Microsoft bans cryptocurrency mining on its online services • The Register

Microsoft has quietly banned cryptocurrency mining with its online services.

The software and cloud giant included the ban in an update to its universal license terms for online services, which went into effect on December 1 The registry‘s Reading, deals mainly with Azure.

Microsoft’s summary of license changes states, “Updated acceptable use policy to clarify that mining cryptocurrency without prior approval from Microsoft is prohibited.”

Within the license itself there is little more information.

A section titled “Acceptable Use Policy” states, “Neither Customer nor those accessing an Online Service through Customer may use an Online Service: to mine cryptocurrency without Microsoft’s prior written permission.”

Microsoft does not appear to have made this decision public via the Summary of Changes page and in the last few hours in an advisory to partners titled “Key Actions Partners Must Take to Secure Partner Ecosystem” explicitly stopping mining cryptocurrencies in Prohibit all Microsoft online services unless there is prior written approval from Microsoft,” adding, “We recommend obtaining prior written authorization from Microsoft before using Microsoft online services for cryptocurrency mining, regardless of term of a subscription.”

We asked Microsoft why it introduced the ban and under what circumstances, if any, it would issue written permission to mine crypto. We’ll update this story when we get a substantive response.

Microsoft is not alone in banning crypto mining without permission. Google Cloud prohibits this (see Section 3.3) as does Oracle [PDF, see clause 1.3] and OVH. Digital Ocean also requires written approval.

Amazon Web Services doesn’t allow it in its free tier. Microsoft has been doing this for a while, banning student accounts from mining activities.

But there has never been such a blanket ban. So why now?

Presumably Microsoft is concerned that miners will not pay their cloud bills.

With scandals plaguing the crypto sector and many tokens falling well below historical highs, miners’ positions could be… shall we say precarious. The fact that Microsoft has reminded partners not to allow crypto mining supports this hypothesis, since Microsoft does not do business directly with most customers. If anyone knows of crypto miners using Azure, it’s the partners who signed them up.

The registry you often hear rumors about capacity bottlenecks at Azure. Perhaps Microsoft is trying to shed the crypto sector and find more stable customers for the infrastructure it has left over?

We also have a theory about the need for a permit: some crypto mining is done using computationally intensive proof-of-work techniques, while others use the less demanding proof-of-stake method.

Microsoft may be willing to host proof-of-stake operations, but is not willing to offer proof-of-work outfit services.

Hopefully the company is self-explanatory. ® Microsoft bans cryptocurrency mining on its online services • The Register

Rick Schindler

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