Microsoft is under scrutiny from the EU’s antitrust regulators, as its rivals and customers are questioned about practices and licensing deals around its cloud business.
Reuters reported that it has seen a questionnaire issued to firms that scopes out potential areas for concern. If any are identified, it could lead to a formal investigation into Microsoft.
The questionnaire is believed to have been prompted by complaints about Microsoft’s cloud practices from four European companies. Two of them are France-based OVHcloud and Germany’s NextCloud.
The questionnaire said: “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.”
Questions include whether Microsoft licensing deals allow rivals to compete, whether there are differences in licence fees and commercial terms in deals where companies are asked to package and indirectly resell Microsoft’s cloud services, and whether there are potential technical limitations on cloud storage services.
In a statement, Microsoft said: “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 is very much a core focus for Microsoft, especially in the wake of the pandemic which has increased demand for services that enable remote collaboration and communication.
Reuters notes that Microsoft has faced fines totalling at €1.6 million from the European Commission in the past decade for various breaches of antitrust rules, as well as not complying with an order to stop its anti-competitive practices.