Microsoft Changes Its Cloud Services To Appease EU Watchdog

After complaints from rivals,  Microsoft is relaxing business terms for its cloud computing service in an attempt to avoid a full antitrust probe in Brussels, reported The Financial Times.

The new changes follow concerns from rival cloud providers that Microsoft is using anti-competitive practices to draw customers to its Azure cloud computing platform and away from competitors. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s executive vice-president in charge of competition and digital policy, confirmed last month that Brussels was “actively following up” on a complaint about Microsoft’s cloud service practices. 

Related: Microsoft Responds To Cloud Antitrust Complaints

On Wednesday, Microsoft president Brad Smith said the tech giant was taking steps that were “very broad but not exhaustive” as he sought to address concerns from regulators and competitors.

Smith said the changes being introduced were “grounded in feedback” he had received from multiple cloud providers across Europe. In a blog post, he wrote: “Some of the most compelling feedback for me personally came from a CEO who said that he felt that he ‘was a victim of friendly fire in Microsoft’s competition with Amazon’. It was hard to hear this — but he was right.”

At issue is a set of licensing rule changes that make it more expensive to run Microsoft Windows, Office, Windows Serverand SQL Server on cloud services other than Microsoft Azure. In a report Tuesday, Bloomberg spoke to customers affected by the issue, including one that found switching to Google Cloud would cost an extra $50 million in Windows licenses. It’s unclear exactly how much expense the rule changes add for the typical customer, though.

“While not all of these claims are valid, some of them are, and we’ll absolutely make changes soon to address them,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement. “We’re committed to listening to our customers and meeting the needs of European cloud providers.”

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.