Microsoft could make key changes to Windows and Office licensing

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: why Microsoft might be forced to make key changes to Windows and Office licensing, where C3.ai draws the line on working with military customers, and the chip industry’s wafer-thin margins for error.

Twirl up

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Redmond blinked

Microsoft has almost dared U.S. and European regulators to take a closer look at its business in recent years by flaunting its might in the enterprise tech market, a market that just never seems to register with competition authorities. as shenanigans do in consumer technology markets. Maybe that just changed.

Bloomberg reported Monday that Microsoft plans to make unspecified concessions how it licenses its software, including Office and Windows, for customers who want to run it on other cloud providers. The changes come after European competition authorities responded to complaints from French cloud provider OVH by asking Microsoft to provide more details about its licensing practices, which encourage customers to run Microsoft software on its service. Azure cloud.

  • Microsoft is unique among major cloud providers in that it has a long history in enterprise software dating back to the early days of the Internet, and there are countless companies around the world that have built technology operations around old-school licensed versions of Windows and Desktop.
  • The modern business world is, of course, shifting to cloud services rather than building and maintaining its own servers and network infrastructure to run all the software it needs to operate.
  • But some companies want to keep their Office licenses and Windows apps and manage that software themselves on another cloud, and Microsoft isn’t making that easy.

In 2019, Microsoft made some changes how it licenses Office and Windows for other clouds, according to the report.

  • It outright prohibited customers from running their own copies of Office (as opposed to Office 365, which is operated by Microsoft) on AWS or Google Cloud.
  • It also made it prohibitively expensive to run the Windows Server OS on anything other than Azure.
  • If any of these customers wanted to use Amazon Workspaces to run virtual desktops using Office, they were out of luck.
  • And companies that rely on Windows Server apps for critical business functions but want to deepen a relationship with AWS or Google Cloud have already faced additional licensing costs to run those apps on any other cloud. than Azure, which surfaced in mid-2019 to late January 2020. The Windows Server 2008 support deadline is approaching.

Licensed software packages often come with end of support deadlines to encourage customers to upgrade to newer versions, which are generally more powerful and secure, but these delays serve a dual threat function.

  • Companies operating in tightly regulated environments can run into serious problems if they don’t honor software licenses, even lame anti-competitive licenses.
  • Likewise, few companies can afford to operate without technical support for products so critical to their daily workflow.
  • Some customers were able to negotiate signed license extensions before the 2019 changes, according to Bloomberg, but in practice only big spenders will be able to pull off such a trick.

As always, the devil will be in the details proposed changes that Microsoft says will be made to its licensing programs. It doesn’t appear that these changes were in the company’s short-term plans until Bloomberg started asking about OVH’s complaints.

—Tom Krazit (E-mail | Twitter)

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Where C3.ai draws the line on military work

Outspoken C3.ai CEO Thomas Siebel often touts the company’s defense industry work, but there are some military applications the company simply won’t touch. One is to build fully autonomous weapons that don’t require a human to make the ultimate decision to push the button or pull the trigger.

“Yeah, we’re being asked to do things that I would consider unethical,” Siebel said during a recent talk on the “Eye on AI” podcast.

Siebel recalled a defense agency project using deep learning to identify targets. He said that until the military agency client clarified that he wanted an AI-based system that involved a “human in the loop” – or someone involved in the ultimate decision-making process and trigger – the company was not interested in the project.

The project moved forward once the agency claimed it wanted a person to pull the trigger, rather than the software itself.

“When you’re informing a human being, I think you’re in the realm of ethical AI,” Siebel said.

-Kate Kaye (E-mail | Twitter)

Coming to Protocol

It has been almost six months since Congress passed the landmark $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. What progress towards these goals have we seen so far – and what can we expect over the next six months? At this virtual Protocol event on April 21 at 9:00 a.m. PT, we’ll explore how the infrastructure bill rollout is going and what it means for you.

Join Protocol’s Issie Lapowsky in a conversation with Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Public Information, US Department of Commerce; Nicol Turner Lee, Principal Investigator and Director of the Center for Technology Innovation, The Brookings Institution; and Angela Siefer, Executive Director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance. RSVP here.

Null platelets

Of the raw materials needed to make the chips, the silicon wafers on which they are printed are one of the most important – and there may not be enough to satisfy the predicted appetite for thin discs. until 2024, according to research firm Techcet.

Much like the rest of the chip industry, wafer producers in Japan, South Korea and elsewhere have grown by leaps and bounds over the past two years. Data from Techcet indicates that the market will grow by 14.8% to reach $15.5 billion in 2022.

But all that growth has left supply tight, and there’s no excess capacity in the market, let alone enough to meet projected demand for the next two years, Techcet said. For the big wafer suppliers to build new factories, it will take two to three years, and until that happens, prices are likely to rise.

— Max A. Cherney (E-mail | Twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM PwC

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Thanks for reading – see you tomorrow!