This article has been updated with a comment from Microsoft.
A new complaint has been filed by European cloud players, including the French OVHcloud, with the European Commission to denounce Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices on the market.
French cloud champion OVHcloud has lodged a complaint with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition over the American Microsoft for abuse of a dominant position, the company told EURACTIV, confirming information from the Wall Street Journal.
” We confirm that several companies, including OVHcloud, are taking steps to ensure a level playing field between cloud service providers operating in the European Digital Single Market, by filing a complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission’s DG Competition an OVHcloud spokeswoman told EURACTIV.
” By abusing its dominant position, Microsoft undermines fair competition and limits consumer choice in the market for cloud computing services “, she clarified.
This complaint, filed last summer, relates in particular to the way Microsoft markets its products, such as the Office software suite.
For customers who go through a licensing system, outside of Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure (Azure), these products would be much more expensive. The plaintiffs also point to other more technical barriers preventing the optimal functioning of the American’s software on other competing cloud platforms.
OVHcloud is not alone on the bench of plaintiffs. If the identity of the co-complainants is not yet known, OVHcloud is the only French company within this coalition, made up of Europeans, EURACTIV has learned. It is now up to the European Commission to follow up or not on this referral.
“ Cloud providers have many options for delivering their services to their customers using Microsoft software, whether purchased directly by the customer or through a partner. We continuously evaluate how to best support all of our partners and make Microsoft software available to all customers in all environments, including those of other cloud service providers. a Microsoft spokesperson told EURACTIV.
Complaints are piling up
This is not the only complaint against the American giant to have landed in the hands of Brussels recently. The German software publisher NextCloud filed a similar complaint with the European Commission in early 2021, as well as before the German Bundeskartellamt.
The German company notably criticized Microsoft for pushing its customers to go through its online file storage service in the cloud, OneDrive, by preinstalling it on computers that use its operating system and by encouraging users to help with start-up offers and regular reminders.
” This is quite similar to what Microsoft did when it killed competition in the browser market, halting almost all browser innovation for over a decade. Copy an innovator’s product, bundle it with your own dominant product and kill their business, then stop innovating said NextCloud CEO and founder Frank Karlitschek at the time.
Since then, the German company has succeeded in bringing together many other players in the European ecosystem within a ” coalition for a level playing field which campaigns against Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices and for the interoperability of services provided by digital giants.
These complaints come at a probably pivotal time for the American tech giants, which are increasingly worried about their anti-competitive behavior.
France, at the head of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2022, hopes to obtain an agreement on the Digital Markets Act (DMA) – the future EU legislation supposed to lay down the basic rules on competition for “access controllers” and in particular to prevent “self-preferencing” practices – during the next political trilogue on March 24.
At the same time, the French competition policeman announced at the end of January that he would look into the problems posed by the cloud market and must deliver his conclusions at the beginning of next year.