AWS sales boss claims Microsoft's softened cloud licensing regime is a sham

Claims Redmond still prices rivals out of the market even after allowances for Euro-clouds

A senior exec at Amazon Web Services has accused Microsoft of making cosmetic licence changes to appease regulators, but continuing to ensure its wares are more expensive when run in rivals' clouds.

Matt Garman, a senior vice president for sales and market at AWS took to LinkedIn to share his opinion that "Customers and policy makers around the world increasingly see MSFT's recent licensing rhetoric as a troubling admission of the same anti-competitive tactics that many companies have been raising with them for years, but went unheeded until they were put before the European Commission."

This is not fairness in licensing and is not what customers want

That's a reference to concessions Microsoft made in May 2022 after OVHcloud, Nextcloud, and other European cloud operators filed a class action lawsuit over issues including the fact that Microsoft charges less to run Windows in its own clouds than in rivals' facilities.

Microsoft president Brad Smith described the software behemoth's change of stance as allowing licence portability into Euro-clouds, plus letting such operators offer a bundle that competes with Microsoft 365.

Garman thinks that effort falls short of real competition.

"MSFT's answer is not to do what's right for customers and fix their policy so all customers can run MSFT's software on the cloud provider they choose; but rather, under the pretext of supporting European technology needs, MSFT proposes to select cloud providers about whom it is less competitively concerned and allow MSFT software to run only on those providers," he wrote.

"This is not fairness in licensing and is not what customers want," Garman added. "We continue to hear from customers around the world that MSFT's discriminatory licensing practices are costing them millions of dollars and the freedom to work with whom they wish."

Garman's post is notable because AWS execs very seldom share such strident opinions in public. The cloud colossus maintains busy and very well-groomed blogs and occasionally uses the main Amazon newsroom to make a point. This post is unusual in its source, medium, and tone – AWS spends most of its energy detailing its own offerings.

Flinging FUD – a vendor blogosphere tactic that's sadly fallen out of fashion – is also not a very AWS thing to do.

But advocating for customers is, so Garman's allegation that Microsoft's practices represent a cost for business has some bite.

Some Microsoft licences are cheapest when users choose to make lengthy commitments to run the company's wares in Azure. The company also bundles its products with extended or managed support when run in its own cloud.

Even if Microsoft offered price parity it would arguably be offering a service that rivals would struggle to match.

Amazon offers its own Linux, which is deeply and uniquely integrated with its own cloud services. Linux support is free in that offering, so AWS is far from a stranger when it comes to creating bundles that undercut rivals. ®

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