CISPE and Microsoft Agree Settlement in Fair Software Licensing Case

Jul 11, 2024 | News, Press release

  • Microsoft offers new product to settle unfair software licensing claims
  • Nine-month deadline established to deliver lasting remedies
  • European Cloud Observatory created to monitor agreement
  • CISPE reimbursed for its litigation and campaign costs

11th July 2024, Brussels. Today, Microsoft and CISPE reached an agreement related to CISPE’s competition complaint filed against Microsoft with the European Commission in November 2022. Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by both parties, Microsoft has committed to make certain changes to address the claims made by European CISPE members and, as a result, CISPE will withdraw its complaint against Microsoft. Amazon Web Services, a CISPE member, was excluded from these negotiations and it, along with Google Cloud Platform and AliCloud, will neither benefit from nor be bound by these terms.

Central to the agreement is a collaboration between the parties to release an enhanced version of Azure Stack HCI for European cloud providers (Azure HCI Stack for Hosters) to offer features that Microsoft customers using Azure Stack HCI enjoy today. These features include:

  • Multi-session virtual desktop infrastructure based on Windows 11
  • Free Extended Security Updates (ESU)
  • Pay-as-you-go licensing for SQL Server.

This collaboration will enable European Cloud providers to offer Microsoft applications and services on their local cloud infrastructures, meeting the demand for sovereign cloud solutions and addressing the disruption experienced by European cloud providers and their customers following Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware.

An independent European Cloud Observatory (ECO) will be established by CISPE to monitor the development and ongoing evaluation of the product. The ECO, which will include Microsoft, cloud infrastructure vendors operating in Europe, and representatives of European customer associations, will make periodic public assessments, reports and recommendations related to the implementation of the agreement and ensuring fair software licensing in the cloud.

In recognition of Microsoft’s commitments, CISPE will formally withdraw its competition complaint with the European Commission and will not initiate or support complaints on these issues in Europe or elsewhere. The agreement does not prevent CISPE or its members from complying with regulators’ requests for information and CISPE will continue to campaign for Fair Software Licensing in the Cloud.

Microsoft now has nine-months to make good on its commitment to deliver the Azure Stack HCI for Hosters product, or to resolve software licensing issues in other ways. If, at the end of that period, CISPE determines that Microsoft has not fulfilled its obligations related to the promised changes it will refile its complaint.

As part of the agreement Microsoft will pay a lump-sum contribution to CISPE to reimburse the cost of litigation and campaigns for fair software licensing over the past three years.

Francisco Mingorance, Secretary General, CISPE, said:

“This is a significant victory for European cloud providers. CISPE has given Microsoft the benefit of the doubt and believes that this agreement will provide a level playing field for European cloud infrastructure service providers and their customers. Microsoft has nine-months to make good on its commitment by offering solutions that allow fair licensing terms for its productivity software European cloud infrastructures.

“To ensure the continued primacy of European members, the CISPE General Assembly has also instructed the Board to revise the governance of the association to ensure that European businesses and SMEs remain in the driving seat for CISPE campaigns should Microsoft or other global hyperscalers ask to become members. Proposed modifications will be presented ahead of the next General Assembly on 18th October 2024.”


For further information please contact:

Ben Maynard

Director of Communications, CISPE

+44 7968 537982