platform, cloud costs, finops, cloud spending, asset tracking, fines

Microsoft Corp. has reached a deal with European regulators to settle an antitrust complaint over its cloud computing licensing practices, circumventing a potential EU investigation that was likely to lead to a hefty fine.

The confidential agreement, first reported by Reuters, was ratified Wednesday by the Cloud Infrastructure Service Provider of Europe (CISPE) trade group of 26 European firms and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“After working with CISPE and its European members for more than a year, I am pleased that we’ve not only resolved their concerns of the past, but also worked together to define a path forward that brings even more competition to the cloud computing market in Europe and beyond,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement.

As part of the settlement, Microsoft will develop a product that lets CISPE members run Microsoft software on their platforms via Azure cloud infrastructure with prices equivalent to Microsoft’s prices, according to CISPE. The software giant will also compensate CISPE members for revenue lost because of hiked licensing fees over the last two years, CISPE said.

The settlement, which does not include AWS, Google Cloud Platform and AliCloud, prompted a scathing response from AWS. “Unfortunately, this settlement does nothing for the vast majority of Microsoft customers who are unable to use the cloud of their choice in Europe and around the world,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

“CISPE has given Microsoft the benefit of the doubt and believes that this agreement will provide a level playing field for European cloud infrastructure service providers and their customers,” Francisco Mingorance, CISPE’s counselor and executive secretary, said in a statement.

In November 2022, the CISPE filed a complaint with the European Commission. It alleged Microsoft engaged in anti-competitive behavior when its new contractual terms resulted in higher costs to run Microsoft’s software in their datacenters.

Microsoft’s stab in May 2023 at resolving the issue was roundly rejected by CISPE, which called it “pretty paltry and very far short of anything we consent acceptance of… we have minimum requirements.”

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