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Recently, some European cloud providers raised concerns about Microsoft’s software licensing practices that impact competing cloud providers. Following the feedback, Microsoft yesterday announced several changes to address their concerns.

First, Microsoft is announcing the expansion of the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program. As part of this program, Microsoft will enable European Cloud Providers to host and run Microsoft products on their infrastructure, including products that have traditionally been licensed to run only on a customer’s own desktop or servers.

  • This will enable the European cloud providers to offer Windows and Office (including Windows 11 and the Microsoft 365 Apps for Business and Enterprise) as part of a complete hosted desktop solution.
  • The expansion will also enable them to offer this same service to customers who buy Windows and Office software from other Microsoft partners and who may want a European Cloud Provider to host this software for them.
  • Microsoft will offer products to customers at fixed pricing for longer terms to provide more pricing stability and certainty to providers and their customers.

Microsoft also announced improvements to licensing.

  • Microsoft will release a revised licensing terms that are more clearly written, better enable customers to readily determine their licensing costs, and permit customers to determine their obligations more easily.
  • Microsoft will revise and expand its Software Assurance program to enable customers to use their licenses on any European Cloud Provider delivering services in their own datacenters, similarly to how they can do so on Azure today.
  • Microsoft will make it easier to license Windows Server for virtual environments and the cloud by relaxing licensing rules that are tied to physical hardware.

Microsoft will create a new team that will work directly with European Cloud Providers. You can find Microsoft’s European Cloud Principles below:

  • We will ensure our public cloud meets Europe’s needs and supports Europe’s values.
  • We will ensure our cloud provides a platform for the success of European software developers.
  • We will partner with and support European Cloud Providers.
  • We will provide cloud offerings that meet European government sovereign needs in partnership with local trusted technology providers.
  • We recognize that European governments are regulating technology and we will adapt to and support these efforts.