“We have received the message”, launched the president of Microsoft, Brad Smith, Wednesday, May 18, in Brussels, where the American company is the subject of a complaint for abuse of a dominant position. “Some of the concerns of European cloud players are justified,” admitted the leader. The French company OVH, author of the request to the European Commission, accuses the group of granting, for its market-leading office software, Office 365, more expensive and more restrictive licenses to hosts who, like it, do not do not resell Microsoft cloud services.
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Microsoft therefore announced concessions: “We are changing the terms of our licenses so that European cloud providers can run our software on their servers much like we do ourselves,” Smith said, while acknowledging that certain details – and even other possible measures – would need to be clarified, with the actors of the ecosystem. European cloud companies will also have access to “a dedicated support team”, Smith added. These changes are intended to be extended to the whole world.
“We did not pay enough attention to the smaller players in the sector, pleaded the Microsoft public affairs specialist. One executive told me he felt like a collateral victim of our fight with Amazon. The world number two in the cloud (20%) would have focused on the leader Amazon (33%) and on Google, “on the rise” (10%), while European companies fell back (21% to 16% in four years). The argument joins that of the French OVH or Whaller. For them, Microsoft uses the strong position of Office 365 (Word, Excel, Powepoint, Outlook, Teams, etc.) or Windows to strengthen its position in hosting and “cloud” services.
What does OVH think of accommodations? “Microsoft recognizes the merits of our complaint and we consider it regrettable that it is necessary to go so far as to mobilize the authorities to secure the conditions of a market where competition is both free and healthy, reacts the French company. . We are now waiting to see the concrete conditions for exercising these resolutions and remain determined to defend a fair playing field for the European cloud ecosystem. »
“Open to discussion”
Intended to appease the European Commission, the compromises will not necessarily prevent it from opening an investigation. A fine in compensation for past offenses is possible. More generally, Mr. Smith, veteran of the legal battle between Bill Gates’ firm and Brussels at the turn of the 2000s, assured that Microsoft now “supports regulation”. At the time, the sanction pronounced against the company for favoring its Explorer browser in Windows sounded like a “death warrant”, but “it forced us to improve”, he said.
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