The European Commission is "actively investigating" possible cases of antitrust within the cloud computing market. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


EC ‘actively investigating’ possible cloud-computing cartels


The European Commission is “actively investigating” possible cases of cartel activity within the “cloud computing” market.

Cloud computing refers to the delivery of services including servers, storage, databases, networking and software over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources and economies of scale, among other benefits.

Responding to a query on the current state of the European Union’s market regarding cloud computing, the EC confirmed it was still looking into claims that Microsoft has been breaking competition rules.

It added that it had more general concerns with the market, which it is also currently examining.

“The Commission recognises the paramount importance of competitive and innovative cloud markets for the European economy,” European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said on behalf of the body.

“It is with a view to ensuring that all European consumers and businesses can reap the benefits of the development of cloud that the Commission is actively investigating antitrust allegations regarding the sector.”

He added such concerns were what was driving the EC’s ongoing “thorough pre-investigations” of Microsoft, adding that its inquiries were not just limited to the US technology giant.

“The Commission continues its investigations in the sector overall, including by assessing the recent licensing changes by Microsoft and their impact, to establish whether EU competition rules are being respected,” he said.

Reynders’ comments follow months of controversy surrounding Microsoft’s cloud computing services and products. For example, the EC has been probing the corporation’s Azure version of the system.

A formal investigation has also been launched by the EC into the company’s Teams product and how that ties in with the firm’s Office 365 and Microsoft 365 cloud services.

According to a press release from the EC in July, the integration of the two products could represent a “threat to competition” within Europe.

“The Commission is concerned that Microsoft may be abusing and defending its market position in productivity software by restricting competition in the European Economic Area (‘EEA’) for communication and collaboration products,” it said.

The investigation was launched after a Microsoft competitor in the market called Slack submitted a complaint that Microsoft’s decision to tie in Office 365 and Microsoft 365 with Teams was illegal.