The plan is to support a total of about 70,000 nonprofits on Microsoft’s cloud platforms like Azure, Office 365, PowerBI and CRM online through this program.
“Microsoft is empowering mission-driven organizations around the planet with a donation of cloud computing services — the most transformative technologies of our generation,” said Nadella in today’s announcement. “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.”
In addition, Microsoft plans to expand its grants for free access to Azure storage and computing resources for university researchers. Currently, about 600 research programs are in this program and Microsoft plans to expand its donations program by 50 percent.
Microsoft also plans to combine access to these services with “investments in new, low-cost last-mile Internet access technologies and community training.” In practice, this means supporting projects like the use of TV white space for internet access in Africa, for example. The company plans to support at least 20 similar projects in 15 countries by the end of 2017.
Ever the cynic, I can’t help but wonder what will happen after these three years are over. Often, these kinds of programs are also meant to get people on a platform and then hopefully keep them there after the initial free program runs out. The same goes for programs aimed at universities. After students graduate, they are likely to continue using the services they were familiar with in college, after all.