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Benioff Joins in Ringing the Microsoft Alarm

Is the Satya Nadella honeymoon showing signs of coming to an end? Since not long after taking the CEO job at Microsoft in early 2014, Nadella has enjoyed praise from the media, many longtime critics and old Microsoft competitors.

Two events in the last week recall old battles, patterns and rhetoric.

Kaspersky Lab chairman and CEO Eugene Kaspersky.

As we noted earlier this week, Eugene Kaspersky recently launched a broadside against Microsoft with new allegations of anti-competitive behavior. The company of which he is chairman and CEO, Kaspersky Lab, filed an application with the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia and is preparing a similar application for the European Commission. The company alleges that Microsoft is misusing its dominant position with Windows to give its Windows Defender an advantage over third-party anti-virus (AV) products from Kaspersky and others.

In a blog post explaining his company's position, Kaspersky said other AV vendors have said privately that they're unhappy with Microsoft's behavior, although no one else has taken action. He also sought to broaden his complaints beyond the security field.

"The trend is clear: Microsoft is gradually squeezing independent developers out of the Windows ecosystem if it has its own application for this or that purpose," Kaspersky wrote. "In doing so, Microsoft is acting against the interests of users since a lot of its products are of inferior quality. Browsers, gaming hubs, image viewing, processing of multimedia files and PDF documents, cybersecurity and many others are already suffering from this and, as a consequence, so are users. And it looks like this is only the beginning. What'll be next in the firing line? Virtual machines? Cloud services?"

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff shared an anecdote at the Code Conference on Monday intended to show why his attitude toward Microsoft lately has changed toward distrust by default. Benioff and Nadella had announced a joint partnership and had reportedly gotten friendly, but that soured when Microsoft outbid Salesforce.com for LinkedIn. Salesforce.com has since raised concerns about the LinkedIn deal with European regulators.

Benioff's anecdote, reported by Business Insider, involved Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group: "The message was, 'Why don't you meet with Scott Guthrie? He runs Azure and would really like to walk you through the details of your business because maybe we could get Salesforce to run on Azure' ... and I'm like OK, and it was clear also that he was someone not in our business, he was running Azure."

But Benioff said he learned through media reports a few weeks later that Guthrie had been promoted to run Microsoft's CRM business, making him directly responsible for competing with Salesforce.com.

"I just came to the conclusion at that point that the new Microsoft is actually the old Microsoft ... And little things like this started stacking up and we put it all together, I don't feel like this is exactly the new Microsoft that we were looking for," BI reported Benioff as saying.

Two incidents don't make a trend. It'll be interesting to see if more vendors start speaking out against Microsoft or if these complaints fade away.

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 16, 2016 at 11:46 AM