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Microsoft Plans to Donate $1 Billion in Cloud Services to Nonprofits

Microsoft announced Tuesday it will donate $1 billion in cloud computing services to nonprofits and university researchers over the next three years. CEO Satya Nadella said the move is part of the company’s commitment to ensuring the cloud can serve the public good.

Through its corporate charity arm, Microsoft Philanthropies, the company will roll out the free cloud services this spring. The aim is to serve 70,000 nonprofits in the next three years.

"Now more than 70,000 organizations will have access to technology that will help them solve our greatest societal challenges and ultimately improve the human condition and drive new growth equally," said Nadella, who was in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.

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Microsoft will also expand by 50 percent a program that gives free Azure storage and computing resources to university faculty, and invest in "last mile" Internet access in developing countries.

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Cloud computing allows for people to store and access data and programs on the Internet (or "in the cloud") instead of their computer's hard drive. On-demand access to immense computational power and shared resources could help lead to solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, said Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer.

"While the marketplace is reaching a rapidly growing number of customers around the world, it is not yet benefiting everyone," Smith said in a blog post. "If we’re going to realize Microsoft’s mission of empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, we need to reach those that the market is not yet reaching."