With unprecedented numbers working remotely amid a global pandemic, demand for cloud services has soared.

Microsoft has revealed that it has experienced huge increase in demand for Microsoft services in regions that have enforced social distancing or shelter in place orders due to Covid-19. The company said that it was rapidly adding new capacity, but said that it would enforce 'soft' restrictions to help manage the sudden spike.

Update: In Microsoft's original blog post, it said that it had seen "a 775 percent increase of our cloud services in regions that have enforced social distancing or shelter in place orders." The company meant to say that it had seen "a 775 percent increase in Teams' calling and meeting monthly users in a one month period in Italy," which is significantly different. We regret our part in perpetuating the error.

That's some jump

Microsoft Cloud
– Sebastian Moss

Microsoft Teams grew by 12 million daily users in a week to more than 44m. They generated over 900m meeting and calling minutes on Teams daily in a week.

Windows Virtual Desktop usage grew more than 300 percent, while government use of public Power BI to share Covid-19 dashboards with citizens jumped 42 percent in a week.

In a blog post, Microsoft said that it is "expediting the addition of significant new capacity that will be available in the weeks ahead."

"Concurrently, we monitor support requests and, if needed, encourage customers to consider alternative regions or alternative resource types, depending on their timeline and requirements. If the implementation of these efforts to alleviate demand is not sufficient, customers may experience intermittent deployment related issues."

So far, the company says that it has not had any major outages (although it has had small Teams and Xbox Live outages), and will enforce restrictions to ensure that service are still able to run.

"We have placed limits on free offers to prioritize capacity for existing customers," Microsoft said. "We also have limits on certain resources for new subscriptions. These are ‘soft’ quota limits, and customers can raise support requests to increase these limits. If requests cannot be met immediately, we recommend customers use alternative regions (of our 54 live regions) that may have less demand surge.

For Teams, the company has made "a few temporary adjustments to select non-essential capabilities such as how often we check for user presence, the interval in which we show when the other party is typing, and video resolution. These adjustments do not have significant impact on our end users’ daily experiences."

As for Xbox services, which run on Azure, Microsoft said that it is "taking proactive steps to plan for high-usage periods, which includes taking prudent measures with our publishing partners to deliver higher-bandwidth activities like game updates during off-peak hours."

The company said that should capacity limits be met, it will stick to its previous promise of prioritizing certain workloads - emergency services, healthcare, and critical government functions.