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UPDATE 1-Amazon latest to criticise Microsoft in UK cloud market probe

(Rewrites with context on probe)

By Martin Coulter

LONDON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Amazon has told Britain's antitrust authority its rival Microsoft uses business practices that restrict customer choice in the cloud computing market, the second major company to criticise the U.S. tech giant's operations.

Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into the country’s cloud computing industry in October, following a referral from media regulator Ofcom that highlighted Amazon and Microsoft’s dominance of the market.

In a letter published on the CMA’s website on Tuesday, Amazon said changes to Microsoft’s terms of services had made it difficult for customers to switch to alternative cloud providers, or run competitors’ services alongside.

“To use many of Microsoft’s software products with these other cloud services providers, a customer must purchase a separate license even if they already own the software,” Amazon said. “This often makes it financially unviable for a customer to choose a provider other than Microsoft.”

Last week, Reuters reported Google had submitted a similar letter to the watchdog, claiming Microsoft’s business practices had left its rivals at an unfair disadvantage.

Google made six recommendations to the CMA, including forcing Microsoft to improve interoperability for customers using its Azure service and alongside other cloud programmes, and banning it from withholding security updates from those that switch.

In its own submission to the CMA, Microsoft said Britain's cloud computing market remained competitive.

"There are many sources of competition in the cloud market in the UK. Google, Oracle, IBM and many other cloud players are also investing billions of pounds in cloud infrastructure globally to satisfy demand and are competing strongly for each customer workload where they operate," it wrote. (Reporting by Martin Coulter Editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)

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