Microsoft revises software licensing policy amid EU review • The Register


Microsoft is offering a series of concessions on its software licensing policies to European cloud providers in a bid to address their accusations of anti-competitive tactics and chill any interest from local regulators.

OVHcloud, along with several other cloud service providers, including Nextcloud, have filed class action lawsuits with the European Commission calling for a level playing field.

One of the bones of contention for some is licensing – for example, the higher fees to pay when running Windows in clouds other than Microsoft Azure.

Brad Smith, president of Microsoft and a regular in legal battles for the software giant, wrote today that he had listened to the critics, and “while not all of these claims are valid, some are.”

He added that Microsoft is presenting initiatives to solve the problems.

“I think it’s important to recognize up front that these steps are very broad but not necessarily exhaustive. As I said in a video meeting a few weeks ago with the CEO of a cloud provider European Union, our immediate objective is to “turn a long list of problems into a shorter list of problems. In other words, let’s move fast so we can learn fast,” Smith said.

The first concerns five European Cloud Principles adopted by Microsoft across Europe, including:

  • We will ensure that our public cloud meets European needs and serves European values.
  • We will ensure that our cloud provides a platform for the success of European software developers.
  • We will partner with and support European cloud solution providers.
  • We will ensure that our cloud offerings meet the sovereign needs of European governments, in partnership with local trusted technology providers.
  • We will recognize that European governments regulate technology, and we will adapt and support these efforts.

Sounds a little woolly? The second initiative looks more tangible and will see Microsoft allow more European cloud providers to join the Solution Provider program – which isn’t a bad thing for Microsoft itself.

“In short, we will enable and even help European cloud providers host and run Microsoft products on their infrastructure for customers, including products that have traditionally been allowed to run only on Microsoft’s own desktops or servers. ‘a customer,’ Smith said.

This will allow these cloud companies to offer Windows 11 and Microsoft 365 apps for business and enterprise as part of a hosted desktop service that runs on their infrastructure. “This means European cloud providers will have the ability to deliver this complete end-to-end solution to their customers for the first time,” Smith said.

Smith added that something else that came out loud and clear in recent customer meetings in the region was “requests to simplify our licensing.” The new redactions are coming, but Smith said they will include “more clearly written terms” that will make it easier for customers to “determine their licensing costs. And will make it easier for customers to determine their obligations.”

The Software Assurance program is also to be modified to allow customers “to have more flexibility in their deployment options”.

“[W]We will revise and expand our Software Assurance program, where customers purchase new version rights, disaster recovery, failover support, license mobility and many other benefits. Today, Software Assurance benefits do not include License Mobility rights for products such as Windows, Office, or Windows Server, so customers must use this software in more restrictive programs or on hardware dedicated specifically to these customers.

“We will extend Software Assurance to allow customers to use their licenses on any European cloud provider providing services in their own data centers, similar to how they can on Azure today. , whether the hardware is dedicated or multi-tenant. We will then partner more closely with European cloud hosts so that we can make this support experience more seamless for customers.”

Smith also pledged to make Windows Server licensing easier for virtual and cloud environments by “relaxing licensing rules that reflect legacy software licensing practices” in which “licenses are tied to physical hardware.” This means that customers only purchase licenses for the compute capacity they need “without having to count the number of physical cores on which the virtual environment is hosted”.

A new team is being set up in Europe to work with cloud providers, provide licensing and roadmap support, and to “create a tighter feedback loop” so that Microsoft doesn’t finds itself not subject to antitrust complaints.

In a statement sent to The registeran OVCHcloud spokesperson said:

“Microsoft recognizes the merits of our complaint and we can only regret that it has to go so far as to mobilize the competent authorities to guarantee fair conditions of competition in Europe, where competition is both open and fair. We We now wait to see the concrete conditions for the implementation of these resolutions and remain committed to defending a level playing field for the European cloud ecosystem.”

We’ve asked other regional cloud providers for comment and will update this article if they officially respond.

Microsoft is the second largest infrastructure cloud provider in the world, generating $11.7 billion in the first calendar quarter of 2022 alone. ®


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