Microsoft starts settlement talks with European cloud trade organization over antitrust complaints

by Ana Lopez

Microsoft has begun settlement talks with European non-profit industry organization Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe (CISPE), about six months after CISPE filed an antitrust complaint claiming that Microsoft used its dominance in enterprise software to tie customers to its Azure cloud platform.

The news comes less than a month later news emerged that Microsoft was about to resolve a separate complaint with three cloud organizations in Europe, including the French OVHcloud, the Italian Aruba and the Danish industry organization Danish Cloud Community. The trio filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission (EC) last Marchalleging that Microsoft has made it more expensive to run its software in rival clouds compared to its own Azure platform, while also making it technically more difficult to run some programs.

While both OVHcloud and Aruba are members of CISPE, it appears that CISPE chose to launch a separate antitrust case against Microsoft, noting at the time that it wanted to “give a voice to those members without the resources to file their own complaints.” submit, or for whom the fear of retaliation is too great to stand alone.”

It’s worth noting, however, that Amazon’s cloud juggernaut AWS is also a member of CISPE, so this may not be so much of a David against Goliath battle as it first appears.

CISPE anyway confirmed today that Microsoft has approached it with a “scheduled settlement agreement”, with its member companies now beginning negotiations on what CISPE says it hopes will “restore fair competition in Europe’s cloud infrastructure sector”.

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Details are still vague at this stage, with CISPE saying only that Microsoft has made some proposals around licensing terms. But the organization notes it has “multiple red lines” that Microsoft must meet before a deal can be reached. For example, it said that any deal that is eventually reached should apply to all cloud infrastructure providers and customers in Europe, and that it should be implemented in a way that makes Microsoft accountable for any commitments it makes well into the future.

“Every company should have the right to use the software they have licensed in the cloud of their choice, without financial or technical penalties,” notes CISPE. “[And] Any settlement must be transparent and clear, open to scrutiny, future proof and auditable for compliance over time.

Even if Microsoft settles with CISPE, the company will still face heat from other quarters for its cloud practices. Google recently beaten Microsoft’s upcoming settlement with OVHcloud, Aruba, and the Danish Cloud Community, accusing Microsoft of antitrust practices while insinuating that a deal specifically with smaller cloud rivals may not be in Google’s favor.

The UK, meanwhile, is preparing an investigation into the domestic cloud infrastructure market, targeting the practices of Amazon and Microsoft in particular. Regulator Ofcom said it has identified practices that make it more difficult for companies to switch between cloud providers or even adopt a hybrid approach.

Back on the water in the EU, CISPE says there is “a long way to go” before anything is agreed, and that there are “several key issues” that still need to be addressed.

“Our members are reviewing the proposed amendments and settlement agreement and will provide feedback to Microsoft in the coming days, including key elements needed to resolve industry-wide issues,” added CISPE. has reached out to Microsoft for comment and will update here if and when we hear back.

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