Google, itself a frequent target of anti-competition lawsuits in recent years, has now thrown the anti-trust gauntlet at its long-standing rival, Microsoft. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Google accuses Microsoft of deploying strict licensing terms to monopolize the cloud-computing market, posing a significant cybersecurity threat in the process.
Google’s complaint was submitted in response to a wide-ranging FTC request for input regarding potential anti-competitive conduct within the cloud industry. The FTC has refrained from commenting on the matter further.
In its complaint, Google singles out Microsoft, suggesting that through its control over popular products like Windows Server and Microsoft Offices, Microsoft is able to limit its extensive client base to its Azure cloud infrastructure service. Google painted a picture of Microsoft’s licensing constraints as a complex entanglement that effectively prevents businesses from considering alternative enterprise software vendors.
Furthermore, Google posits that this monopolistic control constitutes a notable national security and cybersecurity risk. The tech giant pointed to successive cyberattacks involving Microsoft products, notably the SolarWinds breach. It should be noted that both Google and Microsoft maintain active cybersecurity practices dedicated to investigating and mitigating cyber threats.
The spotlight of antitrust scrutiny is a familiar one for Google. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) hit the company with its second antitrust lawsuit in just over two years, this time targeting its advertising business. The DOJ’s first lawsuit, initiated in October 2020, accuses Google of leveraging its monopolistic power to stifle internet search competition through exclusionary agreements. That lawsuit is slated for a September trial.
In addition, Google is on the receiving end of three other antitrust lawsuits led by a consortium of state attorneys general, including a lawsuit spearheaded by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which focuses on Google’s advertising business.
In its FTC complaint, Google also called out Oracle for its alleged customer-damaging practices. Google criticized both companies for forcing customers toward a “monolithic cloud model” through “overly complex agreements.” It argued that this conduct restricts choice, inflates customer costs, and disrupts flourishing digital ecosystems globally.
These allegations against Microsoft hark back to the infamous antitrust case of the 1990s, where Microsoft was found guilty of using its desktop software dominance to channel consumers towards its internet browser, extinguishing competition from emerging players like Netscape. In the aftermath, the tech behemoth was compelled by the government to allow PC makers to install browsers from other companies.
Now, it remains to be seen whether Google’s accusations will lead to another high-profile antitrust showdown, redefining the competitive landscape of the cloud industry.