OVHcloud, a French cloud computing company, has filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft to the EU’s top competition regulator, the European Commission.
The complaint, first reported on by the Wall Street Journal, focuses on Microsoft’s licencing of its products, such as its Office software suite. It was filed last summer but has only recently come to light.
OVHcloud says this licencing makes it more expensive to use cloud services that compete with Microsoft Azure and that Microsoft’s software doesn’t work as well on other cloud services either.
A spokesperson for OVHcloud told the Wall Street Journal: “Through abusing its dominant position, Microsoft undermines fair competition and limits consumer choice in the cloud computing services market.”
The French cloud firm added that the complaint was filed jointly with a number of other companies, but chose not to name which.
In recent years, Microsoft has largely avoided government scrutiny whilst other big tech companies have faced plenty. A 2020 report by the US House Antitrust Subcommittee targeted the other four big US tech giants – Apple, Amazon, Meta, and Google-parent Alphabet – in a 16-month market power inquest but left Microsoft alone.
European lawmakers are not being so slack. Whilst Microsoft does not hold a dominant position in Europe’s cloud market, there are worries that the company’s strength in Office and Outlook could propel it forward through unfair advantages.
Microsoft got in legal trouble for bundling practices into its operating system in the 1990s. In 2020, business messaging app Slack complained to the EU about Microsoft’s bundling of Teams’ rival product with its widely used Office software.
OVHcloud, which went public in October last year, has struggled to compete with the dominance of US cloud service providers. According to Synergy Research Group, the Big Three of AWS, Microsoft, and Google account for 69% of the market, with OVH clutching at a meagre 1%.
The EU is currently finalising new rules that would restrict several US companies, including Microsoft, on how they deal with competitors and consumers.
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