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Bill Gates spells out his agenda for India

By , agencyfaqs! | In | September 15, 2000
Global software major Microsoft sees India as crucial to its chairman's vision of a .NET world

Sabil Francis
agencyfaqs!
NEW DELHI, September 15

If 1995-2000 was the .COM era, then 2000-2005 will be the .NET era.
That is the vision of William Jefferson Gates, 43, better known as Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect, Microsoft Corporation, and the world's richest man.
And the company's Indian subsidiary, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd., as well as the Indian software major, Infosys, with whom Microsoft has tied up, will play a key role in making that vision real.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday in New Delhi, on a day's stopover which involved a hectic schedule meeting political and industrial leaders, Bill Gates said, ".NET (pronounced dot net) is the biggest bet, and perhaps the most exciting ever."
Microsoft and Infosys will build up, promote and market a comprehensive portfolio of Infosys business solutions and enterprise services built around the Microsoft Enterprise Server platform.
In the garden city of Bangalore, Microsoft has set up the "first of its kind .NET Lab", to become operational in 2001. At Hyderabad, the Microsoft India Development Centre is working on a product that will provide functional frameworks for the .NET platform. Microsoft will invest $50 million on the centre over the next three years. Gates spend hours closeted with his India technology development team.
The basic idea behind the .NET inspiration is convergence. Computers, devices and services will be able to collaborate on their own instead of through the user, as now. Televisions would be interactive; phones would have screens enabling people to meet face-to-face across continents, and even non-programmers could set up dotcoms in a few hours.
Microsoft and Infosys will cooperate in such cutting edge technologies as e-commerce, financial services on the net, CRM, insurance and retail. Company officials claim that it is the first alliance of its kind in India that covers the global market. Says Narayanan N.R. Murthy, chairman and CEO, Infosys, "I have no doubt that Microsoft will continue to dominate information technology and we are proud to be allied with it."
The idea for a tie-up was born over a quiet dinner that Gates and Murthy had some time ago. Gates then realised that "the destiny of our two companies have a lot in common."
At the press conference, Gates bristled at a hint that the relatively cheap price of Indian software talent played a role in the tie-up. "That is absolutely wrong. World-class opportunity is dependent on world-class talent." Infosys agrees. Company officials point out that while marketing and getting projects will be the task of Microsoft, Infosys will be in charge of the projects.
The Microsoft Corporation also announced the launch of its portal MSN in India. MSN will now be available in India as msn.co.in and the accent will be on local content and services.
Other major portals like Yahoo! have already set up shop in India. All this is recognition of the potential of the Indian market. Information Technology is on an upswing. The Systems Integration business was worth $849 million in 1999, and is expected to grow by an average of 51 per cent till 2004. The software services sector is growing by an average of 16 per cent and the training and education sector by 38 per cent.
All this translates into a huge economic opportunity and manpower opportunity for global software majors. In fact, Microsoft will launch native language software programmes to tap the growing market of non-English speaking Indians. Currently, less than 5 per cent Indians speak English.
Close to 300 million people worldwide use the Internet, and according to market watcher International Data Corporation more than a quarter of a trillion dollars worth of business will be transacted over the net in the year 2000.
Microsoft is still the leading producer of software in the world even as its rivals and the US Government nip at its heels with lawsuits and anti-trust legislation, and a movement called Linux nibbles away at its share of the operating system market.
For the fiscal year ended June 2000, Microsoft revenue was $22.96 billion. Gates has a net worth that is more than $50 billion.
In a .NET world, for Microsoft and Gates, the sky could be the limit.

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