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Microsoft this morning pledged to support relief efforts in Japan with donations valued at $2 million, including $250,000 in cash, free “temporary software licenses” to its customers and partners, and free incident support to help its customers, partners and government agencies get their systems back up and running.

The company also said it would appeal to its U.S. employees to make personal donations, which are matched by the company up to $12,000 per employee every year.

We have all been shocked and saddened by the images and reports coming from Japan, Akhtar Badshah, Microsoft senior director of global community affairs in a blog post announcing the donations. “It is a human tragedy on a massive scale.”

The announcement follows a backlash over the weekend involving a tweet in which the company’s Bing search engine said it would donate $1 to Japan quake victims, up to $100,000, for every retweet. The tweet drew harsh criticism as a marketing ploy, even though some social media experts said that criticism seemed unwarranted.

Microsoft issued this statement on the controversy over the weekend. “We apologize that a Bing tweet this morning was negatively perceived.  Our intention was to provide an easy way for people to help the people of Japan.  Thank you to all who responded. We have donated $100,000 to the Japanese Red Cross.”

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