According to bne IntelliNews, Microsoft's revenue had gone down from $137mn in 2016 to $90mn in 2020. It's clear that Microsoft's woes related to Russian sanctions pre-date the events of February 2022.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the US Department of the Treasury communicated earlier this year that the company had agreed to a fine of around $3mn, because it sold "software licenses, activated software licenses, and/or provided related services from servers and systems located in the United States and Ireland to Specially Designated Nations, blocked persons, and other end users."
They added that the "majority of the apparent violations involved blocked Russian entities or persons located in the Crimea region of Ukraine."
Causing further headaches, hacker groups operating under names such as 'Midnight Blizzard' or 'Cozy Bear' had been using Teams chats in phishing attacks against governments, NGOs, and businesses, Microsoft acknowledged.
Microsoft Threat Intelligence reported: "In this latest activity, the threat actor uses previously compromised Microsoft 365 tenants owned by small businesses to create new domains that appear as technical support entities.
"Using these domains from compromised tenants, Midnight Blizzard leverages Teams messages to send lures that attempt to steal credentials from a targeted organization by engaging a user and eliciting approval of multifactor authentication (MFA) prompts."
Russia remains defiant
Russia's "import substitution" laws have provided a significant advantage to local technology companies. Recent sanctions have also provided a major boost.
Rusbitech-Astra, which produces a Linux-based operating system called Astra, grew its revenue almost three-fold, from 2.4bn rubles in 2021 to 6.5bn rubles the following year. (The dollar-to-ruble rate has fluctuated considerably since February 2022, but at the time of this article's writing, 6.5bn rubles is equivalent to around $67.5mn.
In August of this year, reports emerged that Microsoft customers had received communications from the company, which stated that existing services would not be eligible for renewal in Russia beyond 30 September.
Forbes Russia reported that Microsoft had confirmed this information, although it was unclear if the decision only related to Microsoft 365 licenses.
Nonetheless, the general market preference for Microsoft products remains strong.
Dmitriy Miroshnik, an industry expert, stated that while there are local substitutes like Astra, RedOS, and BaseAlt, Microsoft's market share for operating systems was still dominant at around 80%. When it came to office products, the company's share was somewhere between 50% and 60%.