Cui bono?

Oct 17, 2022 | News

In May, Microsoft President Brad Smith promised: “We will take to heart the first recommendation in the Fair Software Licensing Principles and will strive to craft revised licensing terms that are more clearly written, better enable customers to readily determine their licensing costs, and permit customers to determine their obligations more easily.”

What we have seen in the past few days is the opposite. Microsoft has layered complexity upon ambiguity and wrapped both in a deluge of papers that use many words but deliver very few answers. Cloud infrastructure vendors, customers, lawyers and procurement experts alike are struggling to ascertain what really has changed. Many are asking; “Who really benefits from these new terms?”

The answer is “Only Microsoft.” Three NEW unfair practices seem to be emerging from the fog of the new licences:

  • It seems that European Cloud providers wanting to offer customers the choice to run Windows, Microsoft 365 and virtual desktop applications on their cloud infrastructure will need to deploy and sell Microsoft’s own cloud infrastructure, Azure.
  • Partners’ customers who had little, if any, commercial relation with Microsoft, are now required to sign a Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA) and become direct customers of Microsoft, if they wish to benefit from these new benefits.
  • The Cloud Service Provider (CSP)- Hoster programme creates new reporting and management overheads for Partners, creating more price discrimination.

From what we’ve seen, not only do these changes do nothing to resolve the pressing concerns of our members over the preferential pricing, unfair tying and bundling and self-preferencing of Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure central to recent anti-trust complaints, they actually exacerbate these concerns leading to less choice and higher costs for European Customers.

No one should be fooled as to who really benefits from these changes. We’ll give you a clue – it’s neither European customers nor European cloud infrastructure service providers!