Microsoft Campus

Microsoft is planning to give away $1 billion (£700 million) worth of the company's cloud computing services to non-profit organisations and university researchers.

The services will be given to as many as 70,000 non-profits and 900 universities over the next three years as the tech giant updates its philanthropic activities. The plan is to give non-profits and universities, that perhaps do not have the resources available to businesses, the benefits of cloud computing.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella will formally announce the initiative at the World Economic Forum in the ski resort of Davos, Switzerland - an annual meeting of economic, political and business leaders.

Microsoft already donates its more traditional software, and has done for many years. The value of those donations is estimated to be in the region of $750m per year. And the company says those donations will continue alongside the new $1bn package.

In a blog post, Microsoft's chief legal officer Brad Smith said: "Cloud services can unlock the secrets held by data in ways that create new insights and lead to breakthroughs, not just for science and technology, but for addressing the full range of economic and social challenges and the delivery of better human services."

He added: “Our philosophy is that philanthropy, at its best, often combines doing well with doing good.

“One of the defining characteristics of Microsoft in 2016 is the degree to which we’re a mission-driven company. We rely most fundamentally on products and the market to fulfill that mission.”