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Microsoft faces antitrust scrutiny in EU

Microsoft faces antitrust scrutiny in EU

A French company claims Microsoft bundling its Office products is harming local EU competition.

A French cloud-computing company has filed an antitrust complaint in Europe against Microsoft, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. This adding to recent criticism of the competitive practices at a company that has largely avoided the recent regulatory scrutiny aimed at rival tech giants.

OVHcloud said it filed the complaint with the European Commission, the European Union’s top competition regulator. The complaint focuses on the way Microsoft licenses its products, such as its Office productivity suite, that may make it more expensive to use cloud services that compete with Microsoft’s Azure cloud, people familiar with the complaint said.

The complaint, which OVHcloud filed last summer but which hasn’t previously been reported, also alleges that Microsoft’s software doesn’t work as well on other cloud services, making it harder for them to compete, the people said.

“Through abusing its dominant position, Microsoft undermines fair competition and limits consumer choice in the cloud computing services market,” said a spokeswoman for OVHcloud.

A Microsoft spokesman wouldn’t immediately confirm whether the company had been notified of the complaint, but said European cloud companies are building successful businesses using Microsoft products.

“Cloud providers enjoy many options to provide cloud services to their customers using Microsoft software, whether purchased by the customer or the partner,” the Microsoft spokesman said in a statement. “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.”

An anti-Microsoft coalition builds in Europe

OVHcloud said the complaint was filed jointly with “several companies.” It wouldn’t name the other companies.

European policy makers and lawmakers have moved recently to more closely regulate the cloud market. Even though Microsoft doesn’t have a dominant cloud market share, there is a concern about the company bundling its historical strength in areas like business applications with its fast-growing cloud business.

Last year, German cloud-storage company Nextcloud made a complaint to the EU about Microsoft’s bundling of its OneDrive storage product with its Windows operating system.

After Nextcloud went public with its complaint, the company created a coalition of other European companies and nonprofits calling Microsoft out.