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Microsoft is trying to appease its rivals and thereby avoid an antitrust probe by the European Commission.

Reuters reports that Microsoft has offered to change its cloud computing practices to settle antitrust complaints filed by smaller rivals. The move is an attempt by the company to avoid a threatened EU antitrust investigation.

At the heart of the problem is a group of EU companies that compete with Microsoft in the area of cloud computing. They have filed formal complaints with the European Commission claiming that the US company’s licensing and bundling practices are anti-competitive.

Microsoft has already made efforts to placate the complainants, which include German software provider NextCloud, French cloud computing services provider OVHcloud, Italian cloud service provider Aruba and the Danish Cloud Community, an association of cloud service providers.

Dispute is already years old

NextCloud and OVHCloud first filed their complaints against Microsoft in 2021. It took until October 2022 for Microsoft to respond, introducing minor changes to its licensing practices based on what it called “feedback from European cloud providers”.

Last week, however, the smaller competitors rejected Microsoft’s offer to modify its licensing practices, saying that the changes proposed did not go far enough. That caused Microsoft to scramble to come up with a better offer. If the company cannot placate its rivals, the European Commission has threatened to launch an antitrust probe, something that Microsoft wishes to avoid.

A looming financial threat to Microsoft

Should the EC decide to investigate, it could lead to a fine imposed on Microsoft equal to as much as 10% of its global turnover. The financial threat is real: the Commission, which acts as the competition enforcer for the 27-country European Union, has already fined Microsoft for more than 1.6 billion euros over the past ten years.

Now Microsoft has put forward “a concrete proposal”, according to the report. “We are grateful for the productive conversations that led us there and appreciate the feedback that we have received since,” a spokesperson said.