back to article Microsoft says hello again to China, goodbye to Russia

Microsoft has opened a fifth Azure region in China with one hand while putting a stop to new sales in Russia with the other. The Redmond software giant declared today that its new Azure region in North China went live with unrestricted access for customers on 1 March, with capabilities including hybrid and multi-cloud …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "China's huge market"

    Make no mistake. Xi can throw as many undesireables he wants into "reeducation" camps, the sheer market potential will ensure that ginormous tech giants will always be at the door, begging to get a slice.

    Russia has less than 150 million people, and they are spread over many time zones. Claiming to support Ukraine is the current fad, and the tech giants will come back later whatever happens saying "now it is time to heal the wounds". They will say that whether Ukraine still exists or not.

    China is a totalitarian dictatorship much like Russia.

    You cannot claim to support freedom and rush to invest into a billion-sized market that is under near-total surveillance.

    Your cupidity belies your words.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Pascal Monett - Re: "China's huge market"

      Don't worry! It's only until US terminates Russia, then they'll get back at knocking China.

      Other than that, I agree with you. It's all about money and nothing to do with human rights or democracy.

      1. Unicornpiss

        Re: @Pascal Monett - "China's huge market"

        While the right thing to do, it is of course also political. You can't simultaneously ban Russia and China. One Autocracy at a time. You don't want to give a nudge towards Russia and China forming further alliances with things as unstable as they already are.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: "China's huge market"

      market that is under near-total surveillance.

      with all the telemetry that Microsoft do on the rest of the world, they'll feel right at home

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "China's huge market"

      Size is big, but China provides less than 2% of Microsoft's revenue, and it has never gone above that, and probably never will. Interesting interview with Microsoft President Brad Smith: ["Microsoft president talks ‘tech Cold War’ with China, which accounts for 2% of company’s revenue", GeekWire].

      Rampant piracy is just one reason that Microsoft has struggled to crack into the Chinese market. Although 18 percent of the world’s population lives in China, it accounts for just 1.8 percent of Microsoft’s global revenue, Smith said. He cited Apple, and to a lesser extent Qualcomm and Intel, as the only U.S. tech companies that have made significant inroads into the Chinese market.

      Apple has "succeeded" because they have effectively committed 100% of their manufacturing to China, which greases the wheels, and is compliant with all China's technical demands about data and services within China.

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Not a microsoft user here, so forgive a possibly foolish question:

    I have read that W11 requires a network connection to MS servers for initial operation. Is this true, and if so, what happens to any new W11 system when either MS or Putin pull the plug on such connections? What happens with older MS OSes?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Neil Barnes - Re: Not a microsoft user here, so forgive a possibly foolish question:

      You can safely assume they'll stop working.

      Nothing can convince me MS did not include a kill switch in their products. You know, just in case some country would dare threaten US but it can come handy in other situations too. It's like you scratch my back and I scratch yours.

      Something tells me China, Iran, India and others are looking closely into this matter. And they will have to make a decision.

    2. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Not a microsoft user here, so forgive a possibly foolish question:

      I am assuming Russia will just got back to using Windows 10 if they had issues with 11. Since you can activate using Windows 10 without a MS account or even requiring activating with a license key. But I suspect activating new Windows 11 PCs is the least of the worries in Russia at the moment

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Not a microsoft user here, so forgive a possibly foolish question:

        You can activate without a licence key if you have an OEM licence saved in your BIOS.

        But if your OEM licence is for home edition, and you want professional edition, then that would be a problem. Lots of businesses have been buying from retail stores recently because they are the only people with stuff in stock, and those machines tend to come with home edition licences.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Not a microsoft user here, so forgive a possibly foolish question:

          On a side note, is there a way to find out what, if any licence is in the BIOS? I got an old "work" laptop and the version of Windows 10 I have doesn't like the licence in it, asking me to enter a licence. It's not a big deal since I rarely use Windows anyway, just a "nice to have" for those odd occasions.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Not a microsoft user here, so forgive a possibly foolish question:

            wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey

            will give you the product key. There are product key checkers out there that will tell you which product it is a valid licence for.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Not a microsoft user here, so forgive a possibly foolish question:

              Thanks :-)

    3. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: Not a microsoft user here, so forgive a possibly foolish question:

      Online DRM always means that you are renting "for an unspecified time limit".

      Though since most decent cracks come from China or Russia, I think they will be just fine when Microsoft pulls the plug.

  3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    It's nothing to do with "freedom". The modern Western view is you can have a "totalitarian dictatorship" provided you keep it within the fringes of your agreed borders and don't launch a wholescale invasion of a country with a charismatic white leader who knows how to work social media and the world stage to his advantage. It's the latter rule Putin broke and is being punished for. Basically, be a dictator, not a dick.

    See icon, since people don't always pick up on it --->

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      See icon, since people don't always pick up on it --->

      You may try to disguise it as a joke, but there is too much truth in it.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        That it's true is what makes it funny...

  4. DS999 Silver badge

    There's an opening for Microsoft, Google and Apple to be really clever

    They should work together and distribute a software update (one of the Google Apps in the Play Store for Google to get it on a lot of phones and allow them to do it with OEM or carrier help) that has a hidden payload that gets triggered say a week later (to get it on as many phones and PCs as possible first) for anyone in Russia or using the Russian language on their device.

    This payload when triggered (this is why they would work together, so it is triggered on all three platforms at the same time) would provide news updates from CNN and the BBC about what is going on in Ukraine. News would be downloaded from an ever changing list of IPs (with updates to the list delivered via the same mechanism so Putin couldn't block this news source, and there would be no way for PC or phone owners to block these news popups.

    Short of making it a crime to possess a Windows PC, iPhone, or Android phone that uses Google he wouldn't be able to prevent all his citizens from getting updates pushed at them whether they want them or not.

    The biggest fear Putin has is Russians getting real news instead of Putin's state run media propaganda. While this would be a pretty shady thing to do, it pales in comparison to what Putin is doing to Ukraine.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: There's an opening for Microsoft, Google and Apple to be really clever

      Great idea, so nobody will ever trust $big_corp.

      After all, if you do it to fight Putin, what's stopping $government to do it to fight child molesters/terrists/other_non-compliant people?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: There's an opening for Microsoft, Google and Apple to be really clever

        Not only that, but we've already seen the evidence of what happens when someone tries a targetted malware attack. The fallout spreads rapidly outside of the targetted area and causes disruption to businesses and people. Remember NotPetya, targetted initially at Ukraine.

        It's not like even a state sponsored malware, created in and by the IT industry is likely to be better built and have more quality control that actual, important patches to an OS. Windows Updates, supposedly benign, are not immune from causing devastation to millions of PCs and businesses around the world, eg October'21 network printing disaster.

  5. innominatus

    Some might say Micros~1 could do more to cripple the Russian economy by reversing their decision to "suspend all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia"

  6. rcxb1 Bronze badge


    > has apparently become the world's fastest-growing cloud market

    Wow. I didn't realize spammers required that many resources.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I suppose Russian businesses will just use those centres.

  8. General Purpose Silver badge

    Microsoft 365, & hotmail?

    At first glance, this would mean that Microsoft will refuse Microsoft 365 subscription payments from Russian users and instead stop providing it when the next payment's due. Have MS ever published sales figures for Russia?

    Likewise they might immediately block access to existing free and email addresses.

    1. Jason Hindle

      Re: Microsoft 365, & hotmail?

      The risk to Microsoft is they push out a lot of perfectly users who then go onto discover that, actually, Libre Office is fine. And Libre Office is absolutely fine. As I’ve written here before, once you have templates that look good enough en either, the exchange fidelity issue stops being an issue. Every silver lining…

      1. General Purpose Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft 365, & hotmail?

        Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, Netflix, Warner, Disney, Sony, Samsung, Apple, H&M, Burberry, Inditex, JCB, Jaguar Land Rover, General Motors and others are taking similar risks.

        To some extent, the decision might be taken out of Microsoft's hands. If Russian-issued Mastercard and Visa cards can't be used to make payments to suppliers outside Russia and SWIFT is unavailable, both personal and corporate SaaS clients in Russia may have trouble.

  9. DropBear

    Well, if all else fails I guess there's always ReactOS...

  10. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Missed headline opportunity

    Microsoft Poo-Poos Pooty-poot, Prefers Pooh

  11. Snowy Silver badge


    <quote>"We are announcing today that we will suspend all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia," wrote president Brad Smith in a blog post.</quote>

    Does this mean already agree sales or ones with a on going agreement will continue?

    <quote>Google, however, cancelled its plans to offer cloud services in China in 2020. As reported by The Register, the project, called "Isolated Region", was initiated in 2018 and set out to address Chinese regulations, but Google was apparently not happy with the requirement to deliver services through a Chinese partner company.</quote>

    They are right to not be happy look how well that as worked for ARM.

  12. MBII

    Pure big tech hypocrisy

  13. Snobol4

    The devil is in the detail

    The lack of detail in many of the announcements from companies regadring operations is worrying. There is a big difference between pulling the plug completely (i.e. curtailing all services) and only stopping "new business". One can see the former having a massive effect on the functioning of the Russian economy. The latter will have virtually zero effect. What is each of these of these companies actually proposing to do and when?

    Clearly for Ukrainians who arte fighting a war right now and need as much assistance as possible right now, knowing which is the actual situation is of paramount importance. Just like the UK government saying it will welcome Ukrainians into the country but then you find out only 50 visas have been issued when 1.5m people have fled the country!

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