Antitrust: European companies file a complaint against Microsoft

You may remember the time when Microsoft, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, tried to force Internet Explorer on Windows users. European open source cloud company Nextcloud remembers this.

Together with other European Union (EU) software and cloud organizations and companies that form the “Coalition for a Level Playing Field”, Nextcloud has officially filed a complaint with the European Commission (EC) about Microsoft’s anti-competitive behavior, which aggressively links your OneDrive, Teams, and other cloud services for Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Microsoft creates a barrier for its competitors

According to Nextcloud, by pressuring users to sign up and submit data to Microsoft, Windows is limiting its users’ options and creating an unfair barrier for companies offering competing services.

In detail, Microsoft’s market share in the EU has increased to 66%, while that of local providers has fallen from 26% to 16%.

And for Nextcloud, this evolution is not the result of any technical or commercial advantage. It is said to be due to the fact that Windows strongly favors Microsoft products and services over competing products and services, particularly through self-referencing.

Abuse of dominant position?

If, according to European competition law, self-referencing is not illegal, abusing your dominant position in the market is.

Nextcloud claims that Microsoft is blocking other cloud service providers by leveraging their position to expand their reach to neighboring growing markets and push users deeper into their ecosystems.

Thus, the most specialized European companies cannot compete, whatever their “merits”, because what matters is not offering a good product, but distorting competition and blocking market access.

On this subject, Frank Karlitschek, CEO and founder of Nextloud, recalls that “it is a lot like what Microsoft did when it killed the competition in the browser market, halting almost all browser innovations for more than a decade. ”. Copy an innovator’s product, combine it with your own dominant product, and kill your business, then stop innovating. This type of behavior is bad for the consumer, for the market and, of course, for local businesses in the EU ”. He added that “with the other members of the coalition, we call on the antitrust authorities in Europe to impose a level playing field, giving consumers freedom of choice and giving competition a fair chance.”

Cascade of complaints against Microsoft

Nextcloud is not the first company to attack Microsoft on this issue. In fact, Slack has filed an antitrust complaint against the American giant in the European Union, about the integration of Teams in Office. This case is currently pending.

Nextcloud therefore requests the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission to prevent this type of abusive behavior and maintain a competitive and fair market for all its players.

For this, the company filed an official complaint with this body. In addition, he also filed a request for an investigation against the American giant with the German antitrust authorities, the Bundeskartellamt. With his partners, he also plans to file a similar complaint in France.

“Ensuring Markets Remain Fair”

Nextcloud was joined in its complaint by several open source non-profit organizations such as the European DIGITAL SME Alliance, the Document Foundation (the organization that supports LibreOffice) and the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE).

For Lothar Becker, President of the Document Foundation, “European citizens should be able to decide for themselves which digital tools they use to create, store and share content, including an open document format for their files. Big Tech’s actions, based on its monopoly power in terms of the operating system, force consumers to use proprietary software, thus reducing their freedom and digital rights ”. “We support the complaint about this anti-competitive behavior and urge the EU to take immediate action,” he adds.

“The patented SaaS offerings seriously threaten the freedom of European computer users and their ability to maintain effective control over their devices and data. […] We will continue to support them to ensure that markets remain fair and that proprietary competitors do not engage in illegal anti-competitive efforts to crack down on competitors that empower their users, ”adds Heiki Lõhmus, FSFE Vice President.

Many allies

Many other companies also support the Nextcloud demand. In particular, Abilian, an open source software publisher; DAASI, an open source identity management company; and Mailfence.

Stefane Fermigier, founder and CEO of Abilian, believes that Microsoft hasn’t changed that much, even though the company now likes Linux. “The 90s have just called and find that nothing has changed. Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices remain a major concern for the competitiveness of the European cloud and software industry. As it has done in the past in similar cases, the European Commission must put an end to these practices. “

Allow the consumer to choose freely

Therefore, Nextcloud and its allies ask the European Commission to guarantee:

  • Microsoft’s dominant position in the market for operating systems and related markets is not abused (for example, by bundling, pre-installing or operating additional Microsoft services) while preserving terms of fair competition;
  • but for Microsoft to support open standards and interoperability. This would allow European consumers to choose freely between service offerings that should compete fairly on the basis of their merits.

Will this effort be successful? Respond at some point. But, Google can attest that the European Commission has already ruled that US companies have engaged in anti-competitive behavior in the EU.

Source: .com

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