Microsoft in talks with CISPE to settle European cloud dispute

Microsoft is in talks with CISPE to resolve a European Union antitrust complaint about the Windows maker cloud computing licensing practices, the non-profit trade association for infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud providers in Europe said on Wednesday.

CISPE is made up of Amazon and 26 small EU-based cloud providers. It opened a complaint with the European Commission in late 2022 which alleged that Microsoft’s newly introduced contractual terms were harming the market’s cloud computing ecosystem.

Resolving the issue directly with the trade body could help Microsoft avoid an EU investigation that could lead to a possible fine and an order to change its business practices. Microsoft is currently the second-largest cloud operator in Europe.

In a statement to Reuters, CISPE said: "Today, CISPE confirms that it has opened discussions with Microsoft aimed at resolving ongoing issues related to unfair software licensing for cloud infrastructure providers and their customers in Europe," the trade body said in a statement.

"Both parties are exploring potential remedies.

CISPE added that the discussions did not mean that effective remedies would be achieved, noting that "substantive progress must be achieved in the first quarter of 2024".

A spokesperson for Microsoft told Reuters: "We continue to work constructively with CISPE to resolve concerns raised by European cloud providers.”

The European Commission has received several complaints about Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform, and said that it is assessing its terms based on the Commission’s standard procedures.

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