Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer, announced yesterday that Microsoft Corp. has pledged to donate $1 billion in cloud services to nonprofit groups and university researchers over the next three years, a move that it says will help ensure the technology’s benefits are not limited to the wealthy.

Microsoft, though best known for its software, has been competing aggressively in the cloud computing market as of late, and the $1 billion figure is based on the market price of cloud services, not the cost to provide them, the company said. Services that will be donated include Azure, the Office 365 application suite, and services that help manage mobile devices.

The popularity of cloud computing amongst customers and businesses has grown exponentially in recent years - and for good reason. Accessing computing power, back-end software, and applications over the Internet, an alternative to buying and managing the computers and software manually, is seen as the next stage in the evolution of computer software, proving to be much more convenient and cost-effective than traditional methods.

Nadella also noted that he will be discussing the donation further at today's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in his session titled The Transformation of Tomorrow. Within the session, Nadella and other digital thought-leaders will be discussing the convergence of emerging technologies and how they believe this will affect industries and societies.

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