Apple is not the only tech giant to withdraw its products from the Russian market in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Microsoft is “suspending” all new sales of products and services in Russia and halting “many aspects” of its business in the country to honour US, UK and EU sanctions.
The decision comes days after Microsoft restricted Russian state media on its platforms and after Ukraine’s deputy prime minister called on the company to block Russian Xbox accounts.
Microsoft saw the removal as practically necessary. “Concrete steps” like this would have the most impact, according to company president Brad Smith, and there will be “additional steps” as the situation in Ukraine develops. The Windows creator has been unambiguous in his criticism of Russia, calling the invasion “unjustified, unprovoked and illegal” and highlighting his efforts to identify and counter Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine.
The move could have a significant impact on Russian use of technology. Microsoft products play an important role for computing in Russia, as they do in many countries, including Windows, Office and services such as Microsoft 365 or Azure.
While existing users may not lose access, this could cause problems for anyone who needs to buy a new product or renew a subscription. We asked Microsoft how this might affect Russian PC vendors — they will need licences if they intend to sell Windows computers.
Whatever the exact damage, the sales freeze follows a series of crackdowns on technology companies such as Google, Meta, Reddit and Twitter. Russia will not necessarily fold in response to these actions, but there is clearly concerted pressure on the country to act.