back to article Microsoft still prohibits Google or Alibaba from running O365 Windows Apps

Customers and sellers of virtual desktop infrastructure remain frustrated that Microsoft continues to lock out Google and Alibaba from running Office 365 Windows Apps on their cloud platforms, weeks after Redmond made concessions for AWS. From October 2019, Microsoft complicated the licensing picture for many by classifying …

  1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    How this is not monopolist behaviour? Surely this shows that's to break MS in (at least) two - one half to sell software and not allowed to touch cloud services, and the other half cloud services and not allowed to sell software. No common personnel, no favouritism allowed between the two.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Boffin

      re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

      I'm going out on a limb here, but given the article lists 3 other big cloud providers, is it because MS don't have a monopoly?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

        > is it because MS don't have a monopoly?

        You don't need to be a monopoly to be guilty of monopolistic behaviour

        If Tesla bought the company running Golden Gate bridge and only allowed Teslas to use it, that would be monopolistic behaviour even though Tesla aren't the only car company.

        1. Handy Plough

          Re: re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

          > "You don't need to be a monopoly to be guilty of monopolistic behaviour"

          I keep seeing this utter nonsense written in every forum where big tech is mentioned. Firstly, there is no such thing as "monopolistic behaviour". It's a meme started by an ignorant party that's to often ignorantly repeated on the internet. Secondly, monopolies are not intrinsically unlawful. A monopoly happens when one company or entity is the only one offering a particular product or service. The reasons for this can vary – it might be natural, because of location, technology, government rules, or simply because everyone uses it. This is fine and dandy, but now the entity is a monopoly; it has to obey social rules to conduct its business.

          > "If Tesla bought the company running Golden Gate Bridge and only allowed Teslas to use it, that would be monopolistic behaviour even though Tesla aren't the only car company."

          And there would be nothing illegal about it unless Telsa prevented other entities from providing other means to cross San Fransisco Bay. Of course, local or even national governments could take action against them, but it would not be due to monopoly.

          1. Bump in the night
            Alien

            Re: re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

            < "I keep seeing this utter nonsense written in every forum where big tech is mentioned. Firstly, there is no such thing as "monopolistic behaviour". It's a meme started by an ignorant party that's to often ignorantly repeated on the internet. Secondly, monopolies are not intrinsically unlawful. A monopoly happens when one company or entity is the only one offering a particular product or service. The reasons for this can vary – it might be natural, because of location, technology, government rules, or simply because everyone uses it. This is fine and dandy, but now the entity is a monopoly; it has to obey social rules to conduct its business."

            I see your point.

            But restraint of trade is still not allowed in the US AFAIK, however I don't see this as what is happening in this case. My understanding is that some regulated monopolies have been allowed to exist like AT&T, until it was decided they would no longer have that status, perhaps due to changing technology or circumstances. I would also add that there is one thing companies really hate - competition - which is understandable when you consider how hard it is to have a successful company. The problem is when they become predatory.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

              This is in no way a restraint of trade.

              MS are totally within their rights to sell a

              There is no legal obligation to sell to all comers, it has no obligation to license software with no restrictions, and it has no obligation to help Google make money.

              There is no monopoly, in fact Google has it's own full competitive vertical stack from the custom cpus up to an office suite.

              You are free to use Google for your office needs, and MS are not using dirty tricks to stop you doing so.

              But they don't feel any need to enable Googles cloud business at the expense of their own.

              That's how competition works.

              1. GioCiampa

                Re: re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

                "That's how competition works."

                By your logic therefore, the EU had no right to fine Google for monopolistic behaviour in search, given that you can use other search engines (etc)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

            "I keep seeing this utter nonsense written in every forum where big tech is mentioned. Firstly, there is no such thing as "monopolistic behaviour". It's a meme started by an ignorant party that's to often ignorantly repeated on the internet."

            You might want to tell this to the US FTC because they very much seem to think that monopolistic behaviour is a thing:

            https://www.ftc.gov/advice-guidance/competition-guidance/guide-antitrust-laws/single-firm-conduct/monopolization-defined

            These ignorants even went so far as encapsulating this "meme" into law:

            https://www.ftc.gov/advice-guidance/competition-guidance/guide-antitrust-laws/antitrust-laws

            Quote: The Sherman Act outlaws "every contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade," and any "monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize."

            And then there's the EU:

            https://competition-policy.ec.europa.eu/antitrust_en

            Quote: "Article 102 prohibits abusive behaviour by companies holding a dominant position on any given market."

            I suggest to write them immediately and setting them straight.

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

          If Tesla bought the company running Golden Gate bridge and only allowed Teslas to use it

          Don't encourage the Chief Twit[Twix]

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

        They pretty much have a monopoly on desktop operating systems and office applications, and they are using that to get into a different market.

        Same as when they used their monopoly on Windows to push Netscape Navigator out of the way in favour of Internet Explorer.

      3. TReko

        Re: re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

        It has a monopoly on O365

      4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: re: How this is not monopolist behaviour?

        The suggestion is that MS *have* a (near) monopoly on "office software" which they are leveraging to try to increase their share in the cloud provider market. If so, that would be illegal. It is (with different products) something they have been penalised for in the past.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      MS does not care one little bit

      They have just as deep pockets as Google and afford to buy off all of Congress to have their way. Do it the MS way or not at all. That's how it has always been and if SatNad has his way, it will be their way forever.

      If you are locked into Orifice 350 in the cloud, then I feel sad for you.

      The same goes for all Google bovine excrement.

      Personally, I hope they end up in a MAD situation. The world will be a better place without them in their current forms.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: MS does not care one little bit

        Same here.

        Both of them are bloated garbage barges that chains your data to the cloud.

        Not to mention their crap-tastic UX.

    3. Kiss

      The monopoly is just associated with the O365 apps Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

      Break Microsoft into two with Word/Excel/PowerPoint being the monopolistic weapon into a separate company. This will level the playing field in Hyperscalers, and also break out the ever-increasing O365 application echo system.

      How do Anti-malware (e.g. Crowdstrike), MDM (e.g. Airwatch), and collaboration apps (e.g. Slack) compete with O365 that bundle copies of most of these features on top of O365 subscriptions? The IT industry is the loser as innovative companies just get driven out of town and we are left with poor imitations of the innovative thoughts. Where did Intune come from - look to Airwatch, same for MS Defender ATP - look to Crowdstrike, the same for MS Teams look to Slack. The MS policy of starting off with a "free" poor imitation bundled into e.g. E3/E5 with roadmap promises to copy features from the other products is the root of the monopoly.

      With the amount being spent on end user device management and Windows applications - who can blame corporates from moving this functionality to MS if they can get a discount on their M$ ELA.

    4. steviebuk Silver badge

      They clearly haven't learnt from their 1999 court case. They need to be taken back to court again for this shit.

  2. Cloudy Day

    The thing i want to know is…

    What, exactly, are Microsoft going to do if you ignore their rules about not running Office 365 on GCP, Alibaba or even EC2 come to that?

    Usually, when you break a Microsoft licensing ‘rule’, they hit you up for a ‘compliance’ order. You are forced to buy the licenses that allow you to do what you have been doing.

    But in this case, there are NO licenses you can buy that allow you to run on GCP, Alibaba or EC2.

    So, what are they going to do? Turn off O365? Most organisations (banks, governments, healthcare etc) would not be able to operate without running Microsoft Office. Is this really what Microsoft are threatening?

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: The thing i want to know is…

      Would not be able to operate without running Microsoft Office or won't even consider doing it?

      We let MSOffice become the de facto standard of business, now we pay the price.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The thing i want to know is…

        There don't seem to be any technical limitation on the use of Office 365 products on these platforms, based on my current experience.

        It is like a few years ago when MS said you couldn't use on the same computer O365 at the same time as a perpetual license of Visio or Project.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, the old monopoly is back?

    Have the seven years passed already?

    I'm guessing that Satya Nadella getting a puff piece in Wired was all that was needed to finally drop the pretense then and return to the old habits of yesteryear. After all, they not only made a lot of money but also b(r)ought enough influence to maintain their monopoly.

    Or, in other words, finally enough money was spent on dinners and other delights in Brussels for them to stop paying attention.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: So, the old monopoly is back?

      These days Cloud vendors are like "Farmers" while Hackers are just "Hunter Gatherers" ... You wonder why I see it like that? "One drink is too many for me and a thousand not enough when I'm using Cloud services"

  4. Reaps

    vdi is shit and a stupid idea anyway so nothing of value is lost.

    bosses who chose this shit deserve the problem and extra costs.

    1. 43300 Silver badge

      It may or may not be a stupid idea - depends on the circumstances and the specific requirements.

  5. benslinux70

    There's no longer a need to depend on the Microsoft Office Suite - Open Office, Libre Office, WPS Office and many open-source software solutions are perfectly workable. Also related - Microsoft plans to make its future operating systems completely dependent on their cloud. As a Linux user, I demand control of my own machine and will never agree to pay Microsoft a service for their cloud simply in order to use MY computer. Thus I have already made these changes years ago. Stop fearing Linux and open-source - it's an easy and pleasant transition - explore and support them instead of being owned by Microsoft.

    1. 43300 Silver badge

      To you, as a technically-minded user, the various alternatives are workable. To many businesses, who have used Microsoft for years, they simply aren't practical - the users know the Microsoft products and training them in somethign else, especially as some may not be very computer literate, is time consuming and costly. They may well also use the Microsoft cloudy services, and only the Microsoft products integrate well with those. And they may well use assorted plugins, esepcially those used with SaaS financial and CRM products.

      It's bizarre that so many IT people seem to think that just because they can do something on their own personal computer, that means it will also work well at scale in a business environment.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >> To you, as a technically-minded user, the various alternatives are workable. To many businesses, who have used Microsoft for years, they simply aren't practical - the users know the Microsoft products and training them in somethign else, especially as some may not be very computer literate, is time consuming and costly.

        That's nonsense. We have several clients who migrated away from MS365 to Google Workspace, and guess what, their users were just fine using Google Docs instead of MS Word. Yes, a few things are different, but that's not something an at least moderately intelligent employee can't deal with.

        Besides, in 2023, I think we should be able to expect that an employee can deal with different kind of office applications. After all, MS Office itself has undergone notable changes through past versions, and since being in the cloud this has only accelerated, and yet people seem to manage (which, according to your theory, wouldn't be the case).

        Today not being "computer literate" isn't really good enough as an excuse, and if the mountain that operating a computer presents is too high for you then there are a wide range of other jobs more appropriate, like flipping burgers. There isn't really a place for someone who can't be arsed to learn computer basics in knowledge working.

        Also, the only one who benefits from this idiotic idea of people being overwhelmed by a non-MS Office application is Microsoft.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Just because one company does it doesn't mean that all can - seems a hard concept for some on here to grasp! If's going to vary widely depending on many factors, including what the users are actually doing - e.g. typing basic letters and emails is very different to complicated spreadsheets pulling in data from SaaS services via plugins.

          And your comment about people who "can't be arsed" is frankly just ignorant. People can be very good at their job, which doesn't require advanced computer use, but find the computer element a struggle.

          And Google workspace - so you trade one controlling mega-corp for another. Not sure how that's an advantage! In the case of Google the office programs are also cloudy only, and anything requiring Office plugins is going to be a problem.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            >> Just because one company does it doesn't mean that all can - seems a hard concept for some on here to grasp!

            The thing is, it's not just one company, we're now at a digit number of corporations which migrated, with some of them large enterprises operating around the globe.

            >> If's going to vary widely depending on many factors, including what the users are actually doing - e.g. typing basic letters and emails is very different to complicated spreadsheets pulling in data from SaaS services via plugins.

            And yet all these things can (and are) be done without Microsoft Office, and especially SaaS services tend to come with their own tools anyways.

            Of course, there's still a ton of (usually branch specific) legacy software which is built on top of MS Office, and if your business made the mistake of buying into something like that then, yes, you have to stick with Microsoft Office, and if there's no SaaS alternative which does away with the local software and Office dependency then you're forked. But that is an increasingly smaller pool of cases because pretty much everything else has already moved to the cloud (which means all you need is a standard web browser) or is in the process of going there.

            As for "only basic letters", amongst our clients there is a large department which authors complex engineering and process documentation, not rarely exceeding 600 pages. They used MS Word before, and while you seem to think MS Word is some kind of gold standard amongst word processors it's notoriously bad in handling large documents, so they often had to split into multiple parts to prevent Word from messing up the formatting (and it still sometimes managed to do that, or to let parts of the text disappear). Now they are writing reports on Google Docs, and are now able to write documents in one piece because G Docs actually handles large documents a lot better than Word.

            The reality is that most of the MS Office alternatives out there are actually more reliable and stable than Microsoft Office. It's not uncommon for businesses to have a copy of LibreOffice around so they can open .docx or other MS Office file formats when MS Office itself shows again unable to open the files it created again.

            Businesses don't use Microsoft because their products are so stellar. They buy into it because there is a huge heard mentality amongst decision makers who see Microsoft as a safe bet. Which is also indirectly supporting the malware and ransomware industry because more often then not the Microsoft platform also makes it easier for bad actors to break into a business network.

            >> And your comment about people who "can't be arsed" is frankly just ignorant. People can be very good at their job, which doesn't require advanced computer use, but find the computer element a struggle.

            It's not, it's simple reality. Fact is that, today, most knowledge worker jobs involve the use of computers, one way or another, so it's an expected basic skill which is necessary to do the job. And if you couldn't be bothered to learn at least the basics of computing then there's a very good chance you're equally ignorant of all the other changes and developments in your industry. As an employer, I can tell you that stating you're not "computer literate" when applying for a knowledge worker position is an instant disqualification (it's like saying you can't read and write). And it's not just about the fact you're ignorant about the most important universal tool of our time, it also tells me that you're generally unwilling to learn or expand your horizon. There's hardly a worse statement you could make during a job interview other than saying "I'm a repeat sex offender".

            You seem to think that employers owe people who are "not computer savvy" to accommodate their ignorance. Well, good luck with that. Aside from some niche specialties which don't require computer, what's open to you are mostly manual jobs that, eventually, will be replaced by automation.

            >> And Google workspace - so you trade one controlling mega-corp for another. Not sure how that's an advantage!

            Microsoft has been replaced because it's a vendor with a horrible track record in security, the most unreliable cloud offering of all cloud vendors, and with a portfolio of bug-ridden products which, increasingly, are plastered with ads and other monetarization components which have no place in a business environment.

            Google has been the replacement in most cases because, after being hacked badly in 2010 or so, has massively beefed up security and now operates one of the world's best independent security teams. And while Azure and MS365 has some kind of outage every other week, Google Cloud Platform and Workspace have been pretty solid over the last ten years. And at least for the business offerings, there are no ads and no nagging to subscribe to other products, or any consumer shit like "shopping with Microsoft" or "Microsoft Rewards" (which has to be manually disabled).

            >> In the case of Google the office programs are also cloudy only,

            Exactly, which means no local software to babysit, patch or fix, and employees can work from (enterprise grade) ChromeBooks which remove all the hassle that comes with having to deploy Windows. No need to maintain corporate images, to devise work arounds for another nonsense that has no place in a corporate environment or stupid bugs introduced by another broken update.

            The migration has lead to a massive drop in support cases (over 80% across the board) for client systems, as all the crap that came with using Windows, Office, SharePoint, Teams and so on is now gone.

            >> and anything requiring Office plugins is going to be a problem.

            You say this as if that's a bad thing, as if it was still 2001. Yes, office plugins going away is a good thing, they are a security nightmare and tend to make the already wobbly MS Office platform even more unreliable. Plugins going away is also inevitable even for Microsoft holdouts as they, too, are working to bring everything to the cloud (Microsoft has already started killing most of its on-prem software).

            Yes, Google Apps don't have plugins, but they have APIs so other applications can use them (like many SaaS offerings do). Using APIs also means better security, no need to install anything locally, and it's difficult for the connecting app to bring down the office application.

            1. druck Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Microsoft has been replaced because it's a vendor with a horrible track record in security, the most unreliable cloud offering of all cloud vendors, and with a portfolio of bug-ridden products which, increasingly, are plastered with ads and other monetarization components which have no place in a business environment.

              This needs to be written in 100pt bold text, as the Microsoft apologists seem to need better glasses.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                To be fair, none of these things don't really matter. There is absolutely nothing Microsoft could do that would prevent a large part of the business world to not chain themselves to their offerings. It's amazing how big the heard mentality amongst c-suite leadership is. They see using anything than what everyone else uses as a risk to their career (and bonus structure).

                1. Test Man

                  Amazing you haven't heard of FAST or the numerous similar licensing organisations who will readily take your business to court for non-compliance.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Google Cloud has pretty much the same compliance approval for a number of regulations (such as HIPAA) as Microsoft Azure.

                    And frankly, any industry where compliance rests on the use of Microsoft products fully deserves to be taken to the cleaners by hacker groups and other bad actors for being utterly incompetent. If you're part of such an industry and have to follow such rules born out of ignorance then you're forked of course, tough luck.

    2. lockt-in

      "Open Office, Libre Office"

      Hi, a couple of corrections which make me wonder where you really sit, you should know this:

      1) It is OpenOffice and LibreOffice, no spaces.

      2) OpenOffice has had no major update in 9 years, LibreOffice receives huge ongoing development. i.e. OpenOffice is a decoy, minimal effort applied to keep it alive, stagnating in increasing incompatibility. Kind of reminds me of the SCO IP legal fights, for the sole benefit of FUD, that went on for decades and was funded by Microsoft.

      If you really don't know this, you're probably not who you would like people to believe you are.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. benslinux70

        lockt-in

        Getting personal? I'm not trying to represent myself as anything but a Linux user suggesting alternatives, so I don't care what anyone believes, least of all you. And trying to diminish my contribution here by pointing out my inclusion of spaces where they don't belong? Settle down.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't seem that bad

    As an user I don't like 365 and cloud solutions.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a good way to encourage

    Google and Alibaba to develop their own alternatives to whatever Microsoft is prohibiting them from running.

    After all, there are several free software programs I might never have written if I had been licensed to use the leading commercial offerings instead. But I wasn't, so I went into competition with them instead. So there :)

  8. Grunchy Silver badge

    Humbug

    I quit Microsoft office long before 365 scam.

    (I got sucked in to their VBA scheme before they obsoleted everything that was done up to XP. Seems to me they had done something similar with OLE 1.0 vs 2.0)

  9. ecofeco Silver badge

    Serendipitous

    I fail to see how that's a bad thing.

    365 everything is garbage. They are doing them a favor. A backhanded favor, but a favor nonetheless.

  10. Kev99 Silver badge

    Isn't that known as "restraint of trade" in legal circles?

    1. Test Man

      Nope. Nothing stopping you from using an alternative suite.

      It's clearly a business decision to get you to use a setup Microsoft likes. Whether as a business you need to, is completely up to the business.

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