TECH NEWS – A questionnaire sent to rivals and consumers could lead to a formal investigation against the Redmond-based company.
The EU’s antitrust regulators may launch an investigation, but first, they will ask rivals and customers about practices and licensing deals related to the cloud business. Reuters reports that it has seen a questionnaire sent out to firms looking at areas of potential concern. A formal investigation could be launched against Microsoft if any of these are identified.
Four European firms, including France’s OVHcloud and Germany’s NextCloud, are the most likely to have launched the survey, as they have both complained about Microsoft’s cloud practices. “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 says.
The questions asked were whether licensing agreements with Microsoft could create a competitive disadvantage for rivals, whether there are price differences in licensing fees and commercial terms when companies are asked to resell Microsoft cloud services indirectly or not, and whether there are potential technical barriers to cloud storage services.
Microsoft also responded with a statement saying, “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.” Cloud has been essential to the company, especially since the coronavirus pandemic, as it allows employees to collaborate over long distances without physical contact. It’s no coincidence that ID@Azure (a free cloud-based developer kit for indie studios) and Azure Game Development Virtual Machine (access to a game developer workspace without a dedicated device) were unveiled at this year’s GDC. Oh, and Xbox Game Studios Publishing, led by Kim Swift (designer of Portal!), plans to release cloud-native games. Azure, Microsoft’s cloud service, is being used by several companies. SEGA and Sony are among them.
The joke? Reuters noted that the European Commission had fined Microsoft a total of €1.6 million for various antitrust violations over the past decade. The company has failed to comply with a request to end its anti-competitive practices…