The move, coupled with the broader tech blockade underway as a result of Western sanctions and corporate decisions, will deprive Russia of key tech tools that are vital to its economy.
Computer-chip manufacturers have begun halting deliveries to Russia to comply with US-led sanctions, while Apple this week said it is pausing product sales in Russia and has limited Apple Pay within the country. Google said it would stop selling ads in the country, and paused all search, YouTube and display network ads after the Russian government asked it to block ads related to Ukraine.
Microsoft declined to give further details on business suspensions in Russia.
But it’s likely that companies with existing deals to use Windows and other products will not immediately lose use of the services. Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said he expects to see more restrictions to come from Microsoft in Russia.
“It’s a first step to them ultimately having more of a scorched-earth policy and getting totally out of Russia,” he predicted.
Microsoft added that it was helping cybersecurity officials in Ukraine “defend against Russian attacks, including most recently a cyberattack against a major Ukrainian broadcaster.”
“Since the war began, we have acted against Russian positioning, destructive or disruptive measures against more than 20 Ukrainian government, IT and financial sector organizations,” Smith said. “We have also acted against cyberattacks targeting several additional civilian sites. We have publicly raised our concerns that these attacks against civilians violate the Geneva Convention.”
Smith’s statement concluded, “Like so many others, we stand with Ukraine in calling for the restoration of peace, respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and the protection of its people.”
US dominance of many tech sectors gives the country powerful leverage in geopolitical conflicts. It’s a lever US officials have deployed before, to punish the Chinese tech giant Huawei, which the United States has deemed a threat to national security.
The tech companies’ restrictions will have more of an impact on consumers and businesses within Russia than on the tech giants themselves. Russia’s market does not make up a huge part of their revenues.
“For tech companies, it’s breadcrumbs,” Ives said.