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Microsoft announces donation plans

Wed 20 Jan 2016

Microsoft Satya Nadella

Microsoft has announced plans to donate US $1 billion in cloud services to non-governmental organisations and researchers over three years.

The announcement was made with a view to providing communities that can’t afford these services with access to the benefits that cloud technology can provide. The plans were discussed online by both Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith.

Satya Nadella’s blog post posed the question of how to make cloud technology accessible to everyone as opposed to wealthy societies who have easier access to cloud computing’s data, intelligence, analytics and insights. Brad Smith, meanwhile, said that Microsoft will look to address 70,000 Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) through one or more of its cloud offerings by the end of 2017, with additional focus on serving more groups after that each year. Smith also wrote that Microsoft is expected to donate near to $350 million in cloud services to nonprofits this year.

The Microsoft Philanthropies arm was established in December 2015 with the task of providing nonprofits with a complete set of the company’s cloud services. These include Microsoft Azure for NGOs to run applications and make use of computing and storage power, CRM online to manage relationships with donors and beneficiaries, and Enterprise Mobility Suite to manage all devices, applications and data.

Another key plan is to expand the present Microsoft Azure for Research programme by 50% of donations. To date, the programme has supplied free cloud computing resources for more than 600 research projects on six continents. There are also plans to donate cloud services combined with last-mile connectivity for under-served communities worldwide. Microsoft has been concentrating on using TV white spaces – unused portions of wireless spectrum in the frequency bands that are commonly used for TV for last minute connectivity.

However, such announcements have been questioned – for example, with respect to tech companies promoting their own business agendas. Facebook’s Free Basics programme has been criticised as a means of promoting its own social networking platform. The Business Insider report also says that the Microsoft donations could bring long-term business as a number of potential long-term users could be won over to the Microsoft cloud platform.

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