Microsoft continues to spend billions of dollars as it expands its global footprint with significant investments in certain countries.

Microsoft announced this week its largest investment to date in France, when it pledged to invest 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion) in cloud and AI infrastructure, including a new data centre. The investment will also drive AI skilling and French tech acceleration.

This is the latest AI and skills investment from Microsoft, which since November last year has been announcing major investments in certain countries, during the visits of high-level executives.

Image credit: Microsoft

France investment

Microsoft made the French investment announcement this week at the Choose France summit.

According to Redmond, the broad investment package into France is designed “to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technologies, increase the country’s competitiveness by fostering digital technology made in France and create long-term benefits for the French economy and job market.”

“This major investment demonstrates a steadfast commitment to supporting digital innovation and economic growth in France,” said Vice Chair & President of Microsoft Brad Smith. “We are building state-of-the-art Cloud and AI infrastructure, training people with AI skills, and supporting French startups as they use our technology with confidence to grow in a fair and responsible way.”

Microsoft president Brad Smith. Image Credit: Microsoft

“In this Year II of generative artificial intelligence, and as it has already entered the age of reason, we are proud to announce today a historic investment in France,” said Corine de Bilbao, Corporate VP, Microsoft France. “Through state-of-the-art cloud and AI infrastructure, a major training plan for the French and renewed support for startups in the hexagon, we are pursuing our commitment to sustainable and inclusive growth.”

There are three major components to Microsoft’s investment in France.

Firstly the €4 billion investment will expand Microsoft’s Cloud and AI infrastructure in France and bring up to 25,000 of the most advanced GPUs to the country by end of 2025.

Microsoft will expand its data centre footprint across existing sites in Paris and Marseille regions and will also invest in planning a new data centre campus in the Grand Est Region, in Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération.

Microsoft is also coupling its capital investment by investing in renewable energy, and the cloud giant is pursuing its first renewable energy contracts in France. It has executed its first PPA in May] and it expects to have approximately 100 MW of new renewable energy projects online in France by the end of 2024.

Microsoft’s sustainability commitment involves a 100 percent renewable energy coverage for the company’s operations, including its data centres, by 2025, water positive by 2030, and zero waste by 2030.

The second major part of this Microsoft investment is to create skills, with it saying it will “support skilling for 1 million people to help the country embrace the new AI era, with a specific focus on job seekers, students, SMBs and professional audiences.”

It is also seeking to upskill current IT professionals.

The third part of the French investment is to support the French startup ecosystem and embrace France’s ambitions to develop leading and high growth AI businesses.

Microsoft has been operating in France since 1983 and employs more than 2,100 people in that country.

Global program

Microsoft has been busy over the past six months announcing major investments in Europe and south east Asia, that began with the United Kingdom.

In November 2023 Microsoft made its single largest investment in its forty-year history in the UK, by spending £2.5 billion over the next three years to expand its next generation AI data centre infrastructure in the UK.

The Chancellor visits Microsoft’s West London data centre .
Image credit HM Treasury

Microsoft also said it would train more than one million people for the AI economy, as the UK government highlighted the country’s AI sector, which contributes £3.7 billion to the UK economy and employs 50,000 people.

Then in February 2024 Microsoft confirmed it will invest 3.2 billion euros ($3.44 billion) in Germany in the next two years, mostly in artificial intelligence.

Then the focus shifted to Asia, with Microsoft making investments in Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.

In April Microsoft revealed it would invest $2.9 billion over the next two years to increase its cloud computing and AI infrastructure in Japan.

Then in May Microsoft said it would invest $1.7 billion over the next four years in new cloud and AI infrastructure in Indonesia, as well as AI skilling opportunities for 840,000 people, and support for the nation’s growing developer community.

Soon after that, Microsoft announced significant commitments to build new cloud and AI infrastructure in Thailand, and provide AI skilling opportunities for over 100,000 people. This investment will see it building a new regional data centre in Thailand.

Then Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella announced a $2.2 billion investment to advance new cloud and AI infrastructure in Malaysia during the Microsoft Build: AI Day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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