Microsoft introduces fairer software licensing terms in EU after antitrust complaints

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Microsoft Corp. announced today that amended license agreements and other contractual changes will make it easier for cloud service providers to compete with the company when they take effect on October 1.

The announcement follows a three-year-old complaint about Microsoft’s unfair licensing terms in the European Union.

Write on his Blog on EU politics, Microsoft said it recognizes the importance of a “competitive environment in the European cloud provider market, in which smaller competitors can thrive.” As such, the company says, it is taking steps to “stay mindful” of its responsibilities as a major technology provider.

This decision dates back to 2019, when a number of Microsoft customers based in the EU filed complaints stating that the company’s licensing terms made it much more expensive to run Office and Windows workloads on cloud computing platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. This led to investigations by local antitrust regulators, and Microsoft later admitted the complaints against it were valid.

Microsoft dragged its feet, but almost three years later, in May 2022, it finally announced that it would take steps to ensure customers could run its software on non-Microsoft cloud platforms in the EU to a similar price. The exact details of the plan were announced today.

The company said in its blog post that it will revise its outsourcing and hosting terms within the next two months. As a result of these changes, businesses will find it becomes easier and more cost effective to use Microsoft software on competing cloud platforms.

Microsoft Vice President Nicole Dezen then explained the changes, telling blogger Paul Thurrot that the company is simplify its licensing conditions and the expansion of the range of products that will be offered on a flat-rate basis over longer periods, depending on customer demand. “We also want to provide more opportunities for customers to be able to host Microsoft software on our partners’ infrastructure,” added Dezen.

As part of the plan, Microsoft will also introduce a new flexible virtualization benefit – a new Windows Server Virtual Core licensing option for Software Assurance and subscription licensing – while removing its desktop app add-on licensing requirement. Virtual for Microsoft 365 F3, E3, and E5. Instead, customers will be able to choose from several third-party pre-built hosted desktop and server solutions under the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program. Then they can bring their own license or purchase one directly from the Microsoft partner.

According to Microsoft, the change is intended to make it easier for customers to move their licenses between different clouds, giving them more flexible deployment options for the Microsoft software they rely on.

Photo: ClearCut Ltd/Pixabay

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