Microsoft is in a giving mood this week, launching two separate initiatives to help non-profits and scientists benefit from its cloud services.
On Monday, Microsoft launched Windows Azure for Research, an initiative aimed at helping the scientific community build and use cloud-based data collections and tools.
The program has four components: a research awards program, training, technical resources and curriculum and research community engagements.
Microsoft said it will accept proposals for “sizable grants” of Windows Azure resources, making up to 100 awards available each year. The grants will be handed out to individual or community projects to host scientific data and services. The first deadline is October 15, 2013.
The training component of the program will start earlier in September, and will comprise of a series of at least 20 worldwide training events created specifically for scientific researchers. Technical resources and a curriculum will be available online as well.
Microsoft also plans to sponsor an annual Windows Azure for Research workshop and participate in existing scientific gatherings.
“Science is at an inflection point where the challenges of dealing with massive amounts of data and the growing requirements of distributed multidisciplinary collaborations make moving to the Windows Azure cloud extremely attractive,” Dennis Gannon, Director of Cloud Research Strategy, Microsoft Research Connections wrote in a blog post announcing the initiative. “This is true for the individual researcher who does not want to manage local physical infrastructure and for large teams that need to share their discovery resources and services with the larger research community. Many researchers from many scientific disciplines are ready to benefit from the flexibility and convenience of the cloud.”
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a program offering non-profit organizations access to free or reduced cost Office 365. The Office 365 for Non-Profits Program extends to NGOs in 41 countries, and is expected to be available in 90 countries by July.
Microsoft has donated software before, but this is the first time Office 365 has been offered like this.
Gartner analyst Matt Cain told InfoWorld that Microsoft’s offer is likely a direct hit to an equivalent Google program that launched in 2007. Google’s program is only available in the US, England and Wales, and costs more than the Office 365 program.