The global economy has been shaken to its core by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Markets are in freefall and governments are scrambling to protect those most at risk.

While it's true that local businesses are the hardest hit, many of the tech giants have been forced to rethink their strategy during an indeterminate period of uncertainty. 

Microsoft's position as a global powerhouse means it is facing challenges not seen since the company was founded in 1975. However, it has responded admirably to the crisis, with the health of its employees and wider community treated as a priority. 

Here are some key ways that Microsoft has lead the way in its coronavirus response.

An early warning

On 26 February, Microsoft indicated that there would be significant disruption to its supply chain as a result of the coronavirus.  This was a full two weeks before the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic, and ahead of many companies in publicly addressing the issue. 

In particular, it said that Windows OEM and Surface lines were among the most significantly affected. While new Surface hardware may still arrive this Spring, it was established early on that there will be clear reasons behind any delays. 

There have been a series of smaller updates since then, as Microsoft seeks to reassure people as best it can in a time of great uncertainty. 

Protecting employees

While Microsoft will be hit financially by the coronavirus outbreak, its position as one of the leading companies in the world is unlikely to change. 

The company have rightly recognised that the safety of its employees is the priority, so quickly moved to protect them from the growing threat of COVID-19. 

As of 4 March, Microsoft has advised all its 148,000+ employees to work from home if it all possible. Only those involved in maintaining server rooms and performing highly specialised tasks would need to frequent their workplace. 

While not as widespread as the likes of Apple Stores, Microsoft do retain a significant bricks and mortar presence. CEO Satya Nadella has confirmed that workers in its retail stores will continue being paid, despite Microsoft closing all 73 shops in the US and its flagship London store (pictured below during its 2019 opening). 

The company has been able to strike a good balance between being sympathetic to the needs of its employees and protecting revenue streams as much as possible. 

Movement of events online

Since the cancellation of MWC in mid-February, nearly every major tech event has either moved online or been cancelled altogether.

Microsoft's Build developer conference, the company's biggest event of the year, is being held virtually in May. 

It has recently been joined by July's Inspire conference, reflecting the expectation that the pandemic will continue for many months. An Office-themed event for 30 March was announced in the midst of the outbreak and so was always going to be a virtual event. 

While Microsoft might not have been the first to move events online, its proactive approach in recent weeks has ensured exciting new updates can be broadcast without putting people's lives in danger.

Dedicated online resources

Microsoft's software has arguably been more recognisable than its hardware in recent years. Millions of people are now using Windows 10 in order to continue their work from home, with Office 365 software enabling them to remain productive away from the workplace. 

Microsoft Teams is one of the most popular online collaboration tools, with an estimated 44 million people now logging in daily to communicate with colleagues and collaborate on projects. 

While there remains fears over its ability to cope with this unprecedented demand over a long period of time, Microsoft are working hard to ensure as many people are able to access the tools it offers. 

A full version of Teams has been rolled for free to NHS workers who need it, while it will be free to users in Germany until 2021. We're hoping this is extended to the UK and other countries around the world as the crisis intensifies. 

Microsoft has also added a dedicated coronavirus tracker to its search engine Bing. This provides a visual representation of the number of current cases, in addition to a curated selection of the latest news. This is more in depth than can be found on Google, despite Bing occupying a fraction of the market.

The company's existing healthcare chatbot is also now being used by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US. Millions of Americans will now be able to check their symptoms for coronavirus and determine whether they need to self-isolate or seek further help. 

While nearly every company on the planet has been plunged into uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft's response has been among the most measured and effective so far. But with an expected peak not expected for many weeks, it remains to be seen how the company will be impacted in the long term.