Microsoft announced on 19th January 2016 that they are planning to donate $1 billion of Microsoft’s Cloud Services to help non-profit organizations and university researchers. This is part of a new three-part initiative to use Microsoft’s profit for the public good, and the project will run over the next three years.
The project has been organized by the non-profit section of the Microsoft business, named Microsoft Philanthropies, which was launched in December 2016.
About Microsoft Philanthropies
Microsoft Philanthropies is a branch of Microsoft dedicated to non-profit work that improves people’s lives through technology; they do this through making various investments into digital inclusion. These investments range from providing Internet connectivity to more people, training people to start their own online businesses, and greater access to computer science education.
A statement on the Microsoft Philanthropies website gives clear insight into their purpose:
One Billion Dollars Cloud Service Donation
The initiative to donate $1 billion of Cloud Services to various causes is aimed at opening up the Internet and its technologies to those who don’t yet have access. It is hoped that by doing so, more people will be able to reap the benefits of this technology: whether the benefits are financial, or communicational.
Microsoft President, Brad Smith, commented:
Microsoft’s three-part project consists of these plans:
- A donation program which is aimed at making Microsoft Cloud Services, especially Microsoft Azure, more accessible to organizations like charities and universities; the company hopes that it will be providing Cloud Services to approximately 70, 000 such organizations worldwide over the next three years.
- A 50% expansion of the Microsoft Azure Research Program which guarantees free Azure storage and cloud computing to university research; even before this program begins, Microsoft already provides free cloud computing to over 600 university faculties.
- A combination of donated resources with increased Internet access and training: Microsoft Philanthropies will join with Microsoft Business Development to support 20 public-private partnerships, all of which focus on opening Internet access to over 15 countries. This project is expected to have widened the Internet’s reach to these 15 countries in 2017.
Microsoft says that their new plans will begin to be enacted in spring 2016, and it also maintains that this is a widening of its donating, and so organizations already receiving free Microsoft services will not have them taken away as the new initiative moves in.
Though the move will be welcome news to many in the charity and higher education sectors, Microsoft may also be thinking of their reputation in launching this project. IDC Research Manager, George Mironescu, said of the donation plan:
Mironescu suggests that there may also be an industry driver behind Microsoft’s new philanthropy by drawing much more attention to the company, and may open up people to their services who may have previously gone to Google.
That being said, the project remains an important one for non-profit and educational organizations and shows Microsoft’s recognition that access to the Internet should be extended to many more people. The Microsoft Philanthropies initiative will give many more people the opportunity to be a part of cloud computing, and to expand their business, education or causes through the Internet.
Investments Made By Microsoft Philanthropies
So far, Microsoft Philanthropies have invested in various projects which further their aims; these range across all the sectors they try to cover and include:
- Microsoft YouthSpark: This is a global initiative to allow more youngsters to learn about computer science. It was launched originally three years ago and has turned into a cross-company project which has created opportunities for more than 300 million youth around the world.
- Work In Washington State: Microsoft has expanded to work around the globe, but with almost 42, 000 employees and their families living in Washington State, they remain interested in their home state’s economy. They have invested in public education projects there, as well as transportation.
- Affordable Access Initiative: Microsoft say on their website, with affordable Internet access, 4.2 billion more people could communicate, further their employment and expand their lives. So, Microsoft offers grants of $75, 000 to companies providing access to regions without Internet connectivity.