Microsoft: «The fears of European cloud operators are justified»

Techno 18 May, 2022

Brad Smith, the president of the American giant, announced in Brussels about concessions for its software and hosting services in response to a complaint about abuse of a dominant position.

«We have received a message», – Microsoft President Brad Smith said on Wednesday, May 18, in Brussels, where a complaint was filed against the American company for abuse of a dominant position. «Some of the concerns of European cloud players are really justified», – the leader admitted. The French company OVH, the author of the request to the European Commission, accuses the group of providing more expensive and more restrictive licenses for its market-leading Office 365 office software to hosts that, like it, do not resell Microsoft cloud services.

Therefore, Microsoft announced concessions: «We are changing the terms of our licenses so that European cloud service providers can run our software on their servers the same way we do», – Mr. Smith said, acknowledging that some details – and even other possible measures – need to be clarified with ecosystem participants. European cloud companies will also have access to a «dedicated support group», – Smith added. These changes are intended to spread to the whole world.

«We didn’t pay enough attention to the smaller players in this sector», – admitted a Microsoft public relations specialist. – One executive told me that he feels like a collateral victim of our struggle with Amazon. The second place in the world in cloud technologies (20%) would focus on the leader Amazon (33%) and Google, “on the rise” (10%), while European companies retreated (from 21% to 16% in four years)». The argument joins the argument of the French OVH or Waller. For them, Microsoft uses the strong positions of Office 365 (Word, Excel, Powepoint, Outlook, Teams, etc. d.) or Windows to strengthen its position in hosting and «cloud» services.

What does OVH think? «Microsoft recognizes the merits of our complaint, and we consider it regrettable that it is necessary to go so far as to mobilize the authorities to ensure market conditions in which competition is free and healthy, – the French company responds. We are now waiting for concrete conditions for the implementation of these resolutions and remain determined to protect a fair playing field for the European cloud ecosystem».

Compromises designed to appease the European Commission will not necessarily prevent it from launching an investigation. A fine is possible as compensation for past offenses. In general, Mr. Smith, a veteran of the litigation between Bill Gates’ firm and Brussels at the turn of the 2000s, assured that Microsoft now supports regulation. At that time, the sanction imposed on the company for preferring the Explorer browser in Windows sounded «like a death sentence, but forced us to improve», he said.