UPDATE (14th March 22:08 BST): In an emailed statement, Microsoft called previous indications that it was cutting the bitcoin payments option “inaccurate”.
Despite reports surfacing over the weekend that software giant Microsoft is drawing back its support for bitcoin, its website is still processing and crediting bitcoin payments.
A notice posted by the tech giant said that its Microsoft Store online shop was not accepting bitcoin, with the policy applying to Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile in particular.
“You can no longer redeem bitcoin into your Microsoft account,” the page states. “Existing balances in your account will still be available for purchases from Microsoft Store, but can’t be refunded.”
Microsoft made significant waves in late 2014 when it began accepting bitcoin in its online content marketplace by way of payments processor BitPay, which takes the bitcoin payment and credits it to Microsoft. The company had stressed that it was not accepting the digital currency directly, but rather allowing it as an option for adding funds for purchasing Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox content.
Yet, in practice, Microsoft is still allowing users to send in bitcoin to add funds to their user account, which can then be spent on Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile and Xbox products.
In a statement, the firm said that the widely-reported post was inaccurate, telling CoinDesk by email:
“We continue to support Bitcoin for adding money to your Microsoft Account which can be used for purchasing content in the Windows and Xbox stores. We apologize for inaccurate information that was inadvertently posted to a Microsoft site, which is currently being corrected.”
Still taking payments
A customer service representative for Microsoft told CoinDesk that users can still send in bitcoin to add funds to their Microsoft account, and from that point can use those funds to purchase items.
The representative added that their support office has received no official word about the policy change, suggesting that a formal statement could be forthcoming – as well as clarification on the exact policy regarding bitcoin payments.
Notably, Microsoft appears to be classifying bitcoin payments it receives as “prepaid card” payments. CoinDesk sent a payment after following instructions on this FAQ page, and after a single confirmation it appeared on the user control page. CoinDesk subsequently purchased a Windows 10 app using those funds.
At the ‘front edge’
When Microsoft announced that it was accepting bitcoin, it became the biggest brand then to begin taking payments in the digital currency.
At the time, corporate vice president of Universal Store at Microsoft said that it usage of the technology to expand, remarking that “while not mainstream, [the use of digital currencies like bitcoin] is growing beyond the early enthusiasts”.
“We expect this growth to continue and allowing people to use bitcoin to purchase our products and services now allows us to be at the front edge of that trend,” he wrote.
More recently, the firm has begun moving toward offering blockchain technology serves through its Azure cloud computing platform.
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an investment stake in BitPay.
Microsoft image via Shutterstock