Amazon kicked off its cloud conference by blasting Microsoft for being anti-customer, 2 months after Microsoft won the Pentagon’s $10B contract (AMZN, MSFT)

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy took a jab at Microsoft, saying the company has stopped prioritizing customers and punishes those who choose to work with other cloud providers.

“People are trying to move away from Oracle and [Microsoft] SQL server because they’re expensive, proprietary and the licensing terms are downright punitive,” Jassy said during a keynote for AWS re:Invent 2019, the cloud business’ largest conference of the year.

Jassy is likely referring to changes Microsoft made to its licensing agreements this summer when it raised prices for customers who choose to run certain types of Microsoft software, such as its database running on Windows Server, on another cloud like Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“For many years you were able to take the SQL server licenses that you’d bought yourself and bring your own licenses and run where you wanted to,” Jassy said. “Then one day Microsoft decided they didn’t want to let you do that. Was it good for you? Hell no. Is it good for Microsoft? Maybe. I think they think so. But people are sick and tired of being pawns in this game.”

The move was a “return to the way of old from Microsoft,” Jassy said, perhaps referring to when the company had a less kind and gentle reputation before CEO Satya Nadella. Business Insider heard complaints around the time of the licensing agreement change from a couple of Microsoft partners that the company is still playing hardball when it comes to how it charges for software.

“You see this return to the ways of old from Microsoft where they are not prioritizing what matters to you guys, to customers,” Jassy said.

Jassy also mocked IBM and Oracle with a photo on stage showing Amazon Prime boxes.

Jassy has said AWS is “customer-focused, not competitor-focused” but competition from Microsoft has intensified recently. To be sure, Microsoft still has a lot of catching up to do. Gartner in a report released over the summer pegged the 2018 market share for AWS at 47.8% and that of Microsoft Azure at 15.5%. Meanwhile, Azure and AWS revenue continues to slow, as the overall cloud-computing market matures.

Still, Microsoft Azure has long been considered the No. 2 cloud provider versus dominant Amazon Web Services, but that perception has started to change.

The company gained traction in its recent win of a contentious $10 billion cloud computing contract with the Pentagon. AWS was considered the frontrunner but experts say the win puts Microsoft in the same league as the AWS.

AWS is protesting that decision in the US Court of Federal Claims, citing “unmistakable bias,” and Jassy reportedly told employees at an all-hands meeting when the company filed its challenge last month that Amazon’s cloud business was two years ahead of its competitor Microsoft’s.

According to documents viewed by Business Insider, Amazon Web Services does not allow its partners to mention rivals like Microsoft and Google Cloud in their “high-visibility content” for conferences like AWS re:Invent, but now allows it in data sheets, flyers, and whitepapers.

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at astewart@businessinsider.com, message her on Twitter @ashannstew or send her a secure message through Signal at 425-344-8242. 

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