Microsoft to reform licensing to please EU regulators



Microsoft is in the crosshairs of European regulators again over its cloud services business.

Reuters reports EU officials have fined Microsoft to the tune of €1.6 billion over 10 years, with a landmark 2007 case that gave the company a taste of what’s in store if it doesn’t reform its practices to better antitrust standards.

“Microsoft (MSFT.O) will revise its licensing deals and make it easier for cloud service providers to compete, its president Brad Smith said on Wednesday, as the U.S. software giant sought to dodge a lengthy EU antitrust probe into its cloud computing business,” a Reuters reporter writes today. “Microsoft was taking the first step, but not the last, to address the concerns, Smith told a conference organised by think tank Bruegel in Brussels. He recounted the ‘extraordinary defeat’ that Microsoft had faced in a challenge to the EU antitrust body in 2007 that had forced it to change. Microsoft wants to listen and act on the complaints, Smith said.”

A lot of what other providers are currently angry about is according to the Reuters coverage, is the customer’s inability to mix-and-match services.

“The initiative announced today fails to tackle in any meaningful way the unfair licensing practices at the heart of complaints and concerns among cloud infrastructure service providers and customers across Europe,” CISPE Secretary General, Francisco Mingorance said in a statement, in response to Microsoft’s new initiative. “It does nothing to end the anti-competitive tying of productivity suites with cloud infrastructure services.”
An article from April goes into more detail about what alternative providers are demanding from the cloud service giant.

“Points of interest include whether Microsoft is making it more challenging or more costly for smaller cloud companies to run some of the programs including Windows and Office on rival clouds or if ‘technical adjustments’ are required,” wrote Paul Kunert at The Register.

With so many types of cloud services in play, it makes sense to reform licensing agreements to allow more flexibility.

To what extent Microsoft will do that to mollify its critics remains to be seen.