TECH: Microsoft is halting sales in Russia.

March 4, 2022, 5:05 pm

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.

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