Google has pressured UK antitrust regulator the CMA (Competitions and Markets Authority) to crack down on Microsoft’s dominance in cloud computing, according to a letter as reviewed and originally reported by Reuters. 

In its letter, Google specifically pointed to Microsoft’s licensing practices were actively making it harder for customers to use competitors. 

“… UK customers are left with no economically reasonable alternative but to use Azure as their cloud services provider, even if they prefer the prices, quality, security, innovations, and features of rivals,” Google’s letter stated. 

The CMA previously launched a UK industry-wide investigation into cloud computing in October this year, following a referral from government body Ofcom. 

The investigation is looking into the competition practices of multiple cloud suppliers on egress fees (fees for customers to move their data out of the cloud), discounts and barriers to switching cloud providers. 

It specifically named Microsoft as one of the main subjects of investigation over software licensing practices in October. 

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By GlobalData

In Ofcom’s published report on the state of the UK’s cloud industry, it stated that Microsoft refuted claims that its licensing practices were discouraging customers from using Microsoft software on non-Microsoft cloud infrastructure. 

Despite this, Ofcom still originally found that Microsoft software was more expensive to run on competitor cloud infrastructures. 

In one example cited in its report, a potential customer reported to Ofcom that it would cost them five-times more to run the same Microsoft software on competing cloud infrastructures compared with Azure. 

In its 2022 thematic intelligence report into cloud computing, research analysis company GlobalData stated that regulators around the world are increasingly concerned about the internet’s competitive ecosystem. 

“Antitrust regulators struggle to keep up with the challenges of the digital economy, where tech giants thrive thanks to their large, established customer networks and low-cost capital,” the report reads. “Existing competition laws were not conceived for the digital era, particularly when it comes to defining significant market power and anti-competitive practices.” 

Microsoft was previously the subject of antitrust scrutiny this July when the EU probed its bundling of work messaging application Teams with Office 365 and Microsoft 365. 

In the past decade, GlobalData found that Microsoft had received more than $2bn in fines from antitrust regulators.