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Google Pushes Antitrust Action Against Microsoft in UK Cloud Market

Google has called for antitrust action against Microsoft in the UK’s cloud computing industry, citing concerns about unfair licensing practices that allegedly discourage customers from using rival services. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK initiated an investigation into the cloud computing sector, following a referral from media regulator Ofcom, highlighting the dominance of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure.

According to Ofcom, AWS and Azure held a combined 70-80% share of the UK’s public cloud infrastructure services market in 2022, with Google Cloud as their closest competitor at approximately 5-10%. In a letter submitted to the CMA, Google argued that Microsoft’s licensing practices created barriers to competition, leaving customers with no economically reasonable alternative but to use Azure.

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Google contended that such practices directly harmed customers and hindered competition in the UK’s cloud computing market. Despite Microsoft updating its licensing rules last year to address concerns, Google claims that the changes did not satisfy rivals. A Microsoft spokesperson responded, stating that the company had collaborated with independent cloud providers to address concerns and foster competition, with over 100 worldwide taking advantage of the changes.

Google Cloud Vice President Amit Zavery criticized Microsoft’s practices and emphasized Google’s commitment to a multi-cloud approach, allowing customers to easily switch between providers based on their needs. Zavery highlighted Microsoft’s decision to update terms for using software licenses in the cloud, resulting in higher costs for customers choosing Google or AWS over Azure.

Google made six recommendations to the CMA, including improving interoperability for customers using Azure alongside other cloud services and prohibiting Microsoft from withholding security updates for those switching providers. The CMA has not yet responded to requests for comment. The ongoing scrutiny of cloud computing giants reflects broader global concerns about market power and competition in the industry.

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