Google accuses Microsoft of locking it down
Google in recent developments has levelled accusations against Microsoft, claiming that the tech giant is engaging in anticompetitive practices by locking customers into its ecosystem. These allegations were made in response to the Federal Trade Commission's inquiry into cloud market competition.
According to Google, Microsoft's complex web of licensing restrictions prevents customers, particularly existing on-premises enterprise clients, from choosing alternative cloud providers during the migration process. In essence, Google argues that Microsoft's practices effectively force customers to remain within its Azure ecosystem, limiting their freedom of choice.
As two of the largest players in the cloud computing industry, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) hold significant market shares. Both companies submitted responses to the FTC inquiry, with AWS emphasizing the thriving competition in the cloud and IT provider space, while Microsoft characterized the market as highly dynamic and competitive.
Google's allegations revolve around Microsoft's use of its dominant position in enterprise software to hinder customers from adopting multicloud solutions. The search giant (Google) points to changes in Microsoft's licensing agreements that restrict migrations to other cloud providers. This creates challenges and additional costs for enterprise and public sector customers who have significant portfolios of previously purchased on-premises Microsoft software.
Google's argument lies in whether Microsoft has fairly leveraged its dominance in enterprise productivity and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, such as Office 365, to incentivize customer adoption of Azure.
Market data from indicates that Microsoft holds a considerable market share in email and authoring tools, whereas Google's share is relatively smaller. However, Microsoft's share of the global SaaS revenue is modest, and Google doesn't rank among the top vendors in that category.
In response to Google's accusations, Microsoft asserts that it has revised its policies to address cloud licensing concerns and provide more opportunities for cloud providers. The company claims to have made changes that remove restrictions and promote a more open cloud ecosystem.
Microsoft had previously announced enhancements to its Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partnership program and adopted new policies to address concerns raised by European regulators regarding cloud market competitiveness. However, negotiations with Cloud Infrastructure Service Providers in Europe, including AWS, are ongoing without a settlement yet.
Microsoft's business practices have faced scrutiny from other regulatory bodies as well. Ofcom, the UK telecom regulatory agency, highlighted both the advantages of Microsoft's integration with existing software and concerns about potential lock-in effects. While customers perceive Microsoft as a logical choice due to familiarity and ease of use, the issue of lock-in remains a subject of debate.
For Google Cloud, a multicloud strategy is pivotal. The company advocates for a hybrid architecture that enables customers to adapt quickly regardless of the cloud platform. Despite Google holding a smaller share of the global cloud market compared to Microsoft and AWS, the company's cloud revenues have been growing steadily.
The rivalry between Google, Microsoft, and AWS has reshaped the cloud market landscape. While AWS initially dominated the market, Microsoft and Google have managed to chip away at its lead. However, as the market expands, enterprises are shifting their focus from migrating new workloads to optimising existing deployments. This trend poses challenges for all three cloud providers.
Nonetheless, the overall cloud market is expanding rapidly, with global spending expected to reach nearly $600 billion by the end of the year. SaaS spending, in which Microsoft has a strong position, will account for a significant portion of this expenditure.
Microsoft's longstanding advantage in software has played a crucial role in its success in the cloud market. The company's ownership of operating systems and popular applications like Word and Excel has facilitated its expansion into SaaS and its integration with Azure.
Google's allegations against Microsoft reflect the intense competition and rivalry among major cloud providers. As regulatory bodies continue to investigate and evaluate market practices, it remains to be seen how these accusations will impact the cloud computing landscape and the choices available.