AWS joins Google in calling out restrictive Microsoft cloud practices

Multiple cloud symbol vector illustration, 2D cloud, 3D cloud, multi-cloud work connected data
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just weeks after the launch of an official probe into the state of competition in the UK cloud computing market, major industry players have pounced at the chance to criticize restrictive Microsoft cloud practices. 

AWS, which holds the largest market share in the UK cloud computing space, claimed Microsoft is creating challenging conditions for customers, as set out in a statement on the CMA's website.

The cloud giant said that Microsoft licensing practices prevent customers from switching to alternative providers or adopting a multi-cloud approach.

Microsoft changed its licensing terms in 2019 and 2022 following complaints to EU competition regulators. The updated T&Cs were aimed at making it easier for smaller cloud providers to compete in the European cloud computing market.

However, AWS claims these changes have resulted in little change, and are making it “more difficult for customers to run some of its popular software offerings on Google Cloud, AWS, and Alibaba”.

“To use many of Microsoft’s software products with these other cloud services providers, a customer must purchase a separate license even if they already own the software,” AWS said. “This often makes it financially unviable for a customer to choose a provider other than Microsoft.”

AWS specifically cited a July 2023 study which found that requirements for customers to rebuy existing software licenses and use them in conjunction with cloud services resulted in an “estimated expenditure of approximately €560 million”.

The firm added this is equivalent to an 80-100% price increase.

AWS isn’t alone in its criticism of Microsoft practices. Last week, Google Cloud lodged a formal complaint with the CMA over its tactics.

Google Cloud also claimed that Microsoft’s licensing regime has discouraged customers from using competitor services, which in turn is harming customer choice.

"With Microsoft’s licensing restrictions in particular, UK customers are left with no economically reasonable alternative but to use Azure as their cloud services provider, even if they prefer the prices, quality, security, innovations, and features of rivals," the firm said.

Interoperability and consumer flexibility have been key recurring concerns for UK cloud customers in recent months.

Ofcom’s initial probe into the state of the cloud computing market found that egress fees, whereby customers are required to pay to move workloads from one provider to another, have proven highly restrictive for customers.

Microsoft, naturally, has strongly disagreed with both AWS and Google Cloud on the matter, noting that competition in the UK cloud market remains robust.

"There are many sources of competition in the cloud market in the UK. Google, Oracle, IBM and many other cloud players are also investing billions of pounds in cloud infrastructure globally to satisfy demand and are competing strongly for each customer workload where they operate," the firm wrote.

Hyperscaler spat a “distraction” from bigger picture

While hyperscaler cloud providers slug it out in the court of public opinion, alternative providers have looked on with a sense of frustration, according to Civo chief executive Mark Boost.

Boost said the current public disagreement between the hyperscalers is “nothing but a distraction from the big picture”, adding that regardless of their respective positions, smaller providers are still being out muscled and restricted due to the dominant market share of the aforementioned trio.

“Whatever each one may claim, the fact remains that the status quo in the cloud market is unsustainable and anti-competitive,” he said.

“We cannot have a situation where businesses using the cloud are hemmed in with opaque pricing, dauntingly complex services, and data egress fees that make it difficult to move to another provider.”


Revitalize your aging datacenter – the real value of datacenter modernization whitepaper

(Image credit: AMD)

Discover a datacenter revitalization strategy that will help you dominate competitors


Boost suggested that by taking a hard line, the CMA can precipitate change in the UK cloud computing market, improve competition, and ultimately benefit customers.

“The CMA investigation can be a turning point for the UK. We can start building an environment where any company can develop cutting-edge cloud services, and customers have the freedom to find the best solution for them,” he said.

“If we want to truly build a better cloud space here in the UK, we need to focus on addressing the issues that are key to customers. Predictable pricing, simplified services and ease of access can all contribute to a more competitive landscape where cloud realizes its full potential.”

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

For news pitches, you can contact Ross at, or on Twitter and LinkedIn.