BRUSSELS - EU antitrust regulators are quizzing Microsoft's rivals and customers about its cloud business and licensing deals, a questionnaire seen by Reuters showed, in a move that could lead to a formal investigation and renewed scrutiny of the U.S. software company.
The European Commission has fined Microsoft a total 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in the previous decade for breaching EU antitrust rules and for not complying with its order to halt anti-competitive practices.
The company found itself on the EU competition enforcer's radar again after German software provider NextCloud, France's OVHcloud and two other companies filed complaints about Microsoft's cloud practices.
"The Commission has information that Microsoft may be using its potentially dominant position in certain software markets to foreclose competition regarding certain cloud computing services," the questionnaire said.
Regulators asked if the terms in Microsoft's licensing deals with cloud service providers allow rivals to compete effectively.
They also want to know if companies needed Microsoft's operating systems and productivity applications to complement their own cloud infrastructure offering in order to compete effectively.
Companies also were asked about the differences in license fees and commercial terms between the licensing deals with cloud service providers and another programme in which they package and indirectly resell Microsoft's cloud services together with their own.
Another focus was potential technical limitations on cloud storage services available on companies' cloud infrastructure.
"We're continuously evaluating how we can best support partners and make Microsoft software available to customers across all environments, including those of other cloud providers," Microsoft said in an emailed statement.
EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager earlier this week said she has no concerns yet about cloud computing and cited the competition from Europe's Gaia-X initiative.
($1 = 0.9060 euros)
(Writing by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Bill Berkrot)