EU regulator asked to probe Microsoft over cloud service


Italian cloud service provider Aruba SpA and a group of Danish cloud service providers are part of a high-level complaint filed against Microsoft Corp. with the European Union's antitrust watchdog.

European cloud service companies have asked regulators to investigate the US tech giant, arguing that Microsoft undermines competition and limits consumer choice in the market for cloud computing services. The complaint was filed last year, but only one of the three cloud service providers listed in it, France's OVH, was named.

Microsoft customers have complained that they pay more to use their must-have programs like Windows and Office when they run through rival cloud computing systems instead of Microsoft's Azure, and practice shows that Microsoft is using its power in one market to undermine competitors in another, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

An Aruba spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg that it is part of OVH's complaint. The Danish Cloud Community, a group of cloud providers in Denmark, is also part of the complaint, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith has promised the company will talk to its customers and rivals, saying in an interview Monday that "there are definitely some valid concerns" and "it's very important for us to find out more and then make some changes." In particular, the company wants to improve relations with European cloud service providers with which it has not collaborated enough so far.

"Especially when it comes to European cloud providers, we haven't had enough direct conversations with them," Smith said. "I don't think there has been anything close to the level of dialogue that we need to solve this problem." One of the lessons for the future is that as a company we need to prioritize a higher level of work and support for these European cloud providers.”

European cloud industry group CISPE said Smith's remarks demonstrate the need for "urgent action, not just vague commitments," and called on European Union officials to hold the company accountable. Among the group's members is Inc., whose Amazon Web Services dominates the cloud computing market, followed by Azure.

"Microsoft's consistent pattern of changing license terms has increased pressure on rival vendors and caused increased costs for customers for several years," a CISPE spokesperson said in a statement. "We urge regulators to vigorously continue to investigate."

Bloc officials have been consulting with regional cloud service companies about Microsoft's practices, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.

A Microsoft spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the CISPE remarks. Danish Cloud Community declined to comment on the issue.

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