The founding member of a coalition of tech corporations that accused Microsoft of anti-competitive behaviour, primarily based on the way it sells and packages its cloud providers in Europe, has claimed the software program big should do extra to handle the antitrust complaints being levied towards it.
Microsoft published a blog post this week acknowledging the antitrust issues which were raised with regulators and authorities about its cloud-related enterprise practices in Europe, which it additionally used to stipulate a collection of “significant” actions it might take to handle the problems raised.
As detailed in a report on Reuters final month, these issues are identified to have prompted the European Fee’s antitrust authorities to ship a questionnaire to Microsoft prospects and rivals, asking for his or her views on Microsoft’s cloud-related licensing offers.
“The fee has data that Microsoft could also be utilizing its probably dominant place in sure software program markets to foreclose competitors concerning sure cloud computing providers,” the questionnaire stated, reported Reuters.
This data is predicated on complaints filed with the European Fee by a number of European cloud service suppliers, together with German file sync and share software program maker NextCloud and French infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) supplier OVHcloud.
Nextcloud’s antitrust criticism, filed in early 2021, takes umbrage on the means Microsoft bundles its OneDrive cloud storage service and on-line collaboration platform Groups in with its flagship Home windows working system. It claims this observe is “aggressively pushing customers to enroll and hand over their information to Microsoft”.
Nextcloud’s criticism has since gained the assist of greater than 50 tech corporations and non-profit organisations, resulting in the formation of a coalition that’s collectively talking out towards how Microsoft sells and packages its cloud software program in Europe. The corporate has additionally filed a criticism towards Microsoft of the same nature with Germany’s personal antitrust authorities.
In a blog post dated 18 May 2022, Microsoft president and vice-chair Brad Smith stated the corporate was taking “significant motion” on the complaints being raised towards it, together with the adoption of 5 pledges that it claims will form its strategy to doing enterprise in Europe in years to come back.
These pledges embody commitments to making sure its “public cloud meets Europe’s wants and serves Europe’s values”, that its platforms are arrange to make sure “the success of European software program builders” and that it’ll present “assist for European cloud suppliers” by partnership.
The remaining two pledges made by Microsoft embody a dedication to “guarantee our cloud choices meet European governments’ sovereign wants, in partnership with native trusted expertise suppliers” and a vow to “recognise that European governments are regulating expertise, and we are going to adapt to and assist these efforts”.
In accordance with Microsoft, these pledges mark the beginning of the work it’s doing to handle regulatory issues, and are meant to “information all features of our cloud enterprise, improve transparency for the general public, and assist us to raised assist Europe’s expertise wants”.
As well as, the corporate stated it was additionally taking steps to make sure European cloud suppliers might “extra simply host a greater diversity of Microsoft merchandise on their cloud infrastructure”.
It added: “This can make European cloud suppliers extra aggressive by enabling them to raised serve prospects.”
Whereas these actions are “broad” they’re additionally not “essentially exhaustive”, continued Smith. “As I stated in a video assembly a couple of weeks in the past with the CEO of a European cloud supplier, our fast purpose is to ‘flip an extended record of points right into a shorter record of points’.
“In different phrases, let’s transfer quickly so we will study shortly. Right now we’re taking a giant step, however not essentially the final step we might want to take, and we sit up for persevering with suggestions from European cloud suppliers, prospects and regulators,” he added.
Talking to Pc Weekly, Nextcloud CEO Frank Karlitschek stated the actions Microsoft was committing to take had been indicative of the stress it’s feeling within the wake of the complaints, however there’s nonetheless extra the corporate needs to be seeking to do.
“The principle problem right here is that we’ve got a super-dominant place from Microsoft… [It is] actually dominating this complete market and this isn’t wholesome,” he stated. “That’s not wholesome for the open market, that’s not wholesome for privateness and it’s not wholesome for digital sovereignty for Europe. We wish the regulators to do one thing towards it to verify there’s honest competitors and a degree taking part in area.”
By way of the follow-up motion Nextcloud and the coalition want to see Microsoft take, Karlitschek stated a dedication from the corporate to make elements of its cloud stack open supply can be a begin.
“Throughout Europe, you could have this motion in the direction of digital sovereignty, the place governments need to be in command of their information and functions. So, if you’re a authorities or an organization and you employ Microsoft or Google or Amazon’s service – even when it’s hosted in Europe – that’s nonetheless underneath US jurisdiction due to the CLOUD Act,” he stated.
“That is what they’re attempting to unravel right here by giving different cloud suppliers the choice to carry this Microsoft stick, however clearly this isn’t sufficient, since you nonetheless have a dependency to Microsoft as a result of Microsoft just isn’t open supply.”
He continued: “Digital sovereignty would solely include open supply software program. What it has proposed up to now is attention-grabbing and is a transfer in the correct path, in response to the stress it’s underneath, however this isn’t sufficient.”
Information from IT market watcher Synergy Research Group in September 2021 shed some gentle on the influence the US tech big’s rising maintain on the European market was having on the fortunes of native cloud suppliers.
Whereas the market itself has grown almost fourfold since 2017 to a price of $8.8bn, European cloud suppliers have seen their share of the market fall from 27% to 16% throughout that very same time interval, though the income these corporations make has doubled throughout that point.
Pc Weekly additionally contacted OVHcloud for its tackle Microsoft’s plans, given it has additionally raised an antitrust criticism towards the corporate with regulators up to now, and acquired the next assertion in response.
“Microsoft acknowledges the deserves of our criticism and we will solely remorse that it has to go so far as mobilising the related authorities to safe a degree taking part in area in Europe, the place competitors is each open and honest,” stated the assertion.
“We are actually ready to see the concrete implementation circumstances of those resolutions and stay dedicated to defending a degree taking part in area for the European cloud ecosystem.”