With Microsoft now offering Windows on Azure, its critics alleged that the firm now makes it more expensive to do so on rival cloud platforms. Or, in some cases, impossible.
Curiously, Microsoft agrees.
“There definitely are some valid concerns,” Microsoft president Brad Smith told Bloomberg in an interview. “It’s very important for us to learn more and then make some changes.”
Microsoft, to date, has escaped serious regulatory scrutiny in an era that has been defined by antitrust action and related lawsuits against other Big Tech firms like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. But that is starting to change. Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard will likely take years to wind its way through the regulatory process in various jurisdiction, for example. And the EU is currently examining whether Microsoft’s cloud offerings are shutting out smaller rivals from the continent like OVHcloud.
“Through abusing its dominant position, Microsoft undermines fair competition and limits consumer choice in the cloud computing services market,” an OVHcloud statement noted in March.
“We’re continuously evaluating how we can best support partners and make Microsoft software available to customers across all environments, including those of other cloud providers,” a Microsoft statement added in response.
At issue now is the way that Microsoft licenses Windows and Office. It’s usually possible to run these solutions on rival cloud platforms like Amazon AWS and the Google Cloud Platform. But as contracts are being renewed, customers are discovering that the cost of doing so is escalating. And in some cases, Microsoft now prohibits them from doing so. Its solution? Use Windows 365 on Azure instead.
Amazon and Google both complained to Microsoft about this business practice to no avail. But with its customers starting to complain—and with the understanding that heading directly to antitrust regulators is the best way to get a fast response from the software giant—Microsoft will likely make changes to its new licensing restrictions and perhaps lower costs and restrictions for those that wish to use its products on rival cloud platforms.