Microsoft inks US$1.7bn Indian investment deal

Microsoft plans to plough US$1.7 billion into India over the next four years and create another 3,000 jobs in the country, chairman Bill Gates revealed on a whirlwind visit to India this month.

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By  Chris Whyatt Published  December 18, 2005

Microsoft plans to plough US$1.7 billion into India over the next four years and create another 3,000 jobs in the country, chairman Bill Gates revealed on a whirlwind visit to India this month. The investment represents the largest sum any software company has committed at one time to India so far, and the move is aimed at deepening its presence in the country’s rapidly growing software market. Roughly half of the US$1.7 billion will be spent on India’s existing research and development centre in Bangalore, its global software delivery unit in Hyderabad — its largest base behind its Washington, US headquarters — plus an expansion spree to 33 more cities where Microsoft will open retail outlets. “We have about 4,000 people (in India). We would be growing that by 3,000 over the next several years,” Gates told a news conference. Microsoft would also focus on research to help spread low-cost computing in India, said Gates, who also talked about setting up a venture firm to invest in startups. “For India to sustain economic growth, it needs to leverage IT as an enabler and focus on rapidly enhancing two key areas: literacy and productivity,” said Gates ,who visited cities including Bangalore and Hyderabad. “India will have to use IT as an enabler for a sustainable and equitable development model to realise the benefits for all of its citizens across the country,” he went on to add. A Gartner report released this month said India would spend US$24.2 billion on software, hardware, telecommunications, and services in 2006, achieving 23% growth. Chipmaker Intel and networking giant Cisco Systems both announced US$1.1billion investments into India in the past two months. On his visit, Gates also announced a contest to identify promising software students in India, offering as a top prize an internship with his technical team for a year. The nationwide talent hunt, called “Code4Bill”, would offer the winner an opportunity to study Microsoft’s product development and innovations, said Gates, who insisted it would showcase the high quality of work being done in amongst India’s one billion-plus population. “Some of the best commercial work is happening right here,” he said. Microsoft also said it would set up the first Microsoft Innovation Centres (MIC) in Bangalore, aimed at helping developers, independent software vendors, students, entrepreneurs, and governments to develop and deploy innovative software, in order to fuel long-term economic growth in the region. Microsoft also announced an industry enterprise readiness initiative with Indian IT giant Satyam this month. The EDGE Initiative will train up to 3,000 of Satyam’s engineers each year to become Microsoft Certified Professionals as Satyam seeks to ensure execution excellence on the Microsoft .NET technology for enterprise solutions, according to a Microsoft statement.

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