Microsoft offers to change cloud practices to ward off EU antitrust probe -source

FILE PHOTO: Smartphone is seen in front of Microsoft logo displayed in this illustration taken, July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Microsoft Corp has offered to change its cloud computing practices to settle antitrust complaints filed by smaller rivals, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday, a move that will stave off an EU investigation.

French cloud computing services provider OVHcloud, Italian cloud service provider Aruba and a Danish association of cloud service providers had complained to the European Commission about Microsoft's cloud practices and licensing deals.

The U.S. software group has put forward a concrete proposal, building on last year's announcement by its president, Brad Smith, the person said.

The Commission, which acts as the competition enforcer for the 27-country European Union and has fined Microsoft more than 1.6 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in the past decade, will monitor the settlement, the person said.

Microsoft said it introduced changes to its licensing practices in October following feedback from European cloud providers.

"We are grateful for the productive conversations that led us there and appreciate the feedback that we have received since," a spokesperson said.

The EU antitrust watchdog and OVHcloud declined to comment. Aruba and the Danish Cloud Community did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe (CISPE), a trade group whose members include cloud computing market leader Inc, said it was not part of the settlement.

"We've had an initial discussion with Microsoft, but have not seen anything that suggests changes that will ensure that all European customers have the chance to run the software they want in the cloud of their choice free of unfair licence terms or discriminatory pricing," a CISPE spokesperson said.

"As such we will continue to pursue our complaint."

Reuters reported last week that rivals wanted Microsoft to do more to resolve their complaints after an initial offer fell short. The person said this piled pressure on the company to improve its proposal.

Bloomberg first reported on the imminent deal.

($1 = 0.9223 euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jane Merriman and Richard Chang)

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