Microsoft plans to donate US$1 billion in cloud services over three years to nongovernmental organizations and researchers

The donation by Microsoft, the size of which has been calculated at fair market value, could also bring long-term business benefits, as it would help the company win over a number of potential long-term users to its cloud platform.

The new Microsoft Philanthropies arm of the company, set up last month, will provide nonprofits with the full suite of Microsoft cloud services, including Microsoft Azure, so that NGOs can run applications and make use of computing and storage power, CRM Online to manage relationships with donors and beneficiaries, and the Enterprise Mobility Suite to manage all of their devices, applications, and data.

Microsoft has been pushing its cloud services around the world, including setting up data centers in some countries to meet local government requirements that data should be stored locally.

Philanthropy efforts by tech companies have, however, been viewed with skepticism, as they are seen as secretly promoting business agendas. Facebook’s Free Basics, a program to provide select Internet services including Facebook to users without data charges, has been criticized in India as a way to promote the social networking platform.

Microsoft’s program to use TV white spaces for connectivity has also been criticized by the Indian mobile industry, which is demanding that the white spaces should be auctioned rather than given free.

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