EU antitrust regulators are quizzing Microsoft’s rivals and customers about its cloud business and licensing deals, a questionnaire seen by Reuters showed, in a move that could lead to a formal investigation and renewed scrutiny of the U.S. software company.
The European Commission has fined Microsoft a total 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in the previous decade for breaching EU antitrust rules and for not complying with its order to halt anti-competitive practices.
The company found itself on the EU competition enforcer’s radar again after German software provider NextCloud, France’s OVHcloud and two other companies filed complaints about Microsoft’s cloud practices. The complaint focuses on the way Microsoft licenses its products, such as its Office productivity suite, that may make it more expensive to use cloud services.
“The Commission has information that Microsoft may be using its potentially dominant position in certain software markets to foreclose competition regarding certain cloud computing services,” the questionnaire said.
Regulators asked if the terms in Microsoft’s licensing deals with cloud service providers allow rivals to compete effectively.
They also want to know if companies needed Microsoft’s operating systems and productivity applications to complement their own cloud infrastructure offering in order to compete effectively.
Having been at the center of a historic antitrust case in the 90s, Microsoft has often managed to avoid the close scrutiny levelled at other Big Tech companies, such as Google or Meta (formerly Facebook). However, other recent moves by the company have also been questioned, signalling a tougher stance from regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.
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