Microsoft to invest $400 million in India over three years

Microsoft Corp is to invest US$400 million in India over the next three years in areas including computer literacy, localization of its software products, and increasing the size of its software development center, according to an announcement made Tuesday in Delhi by Bill Gates, the company's chairman and chief software architect.

Gates began a four-day visit to India on Monday by pledging $100 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to combat the AIDS menace in India.

A part of Microsoft's $400 million investment will go towards increasing the size of the software development center that Microsoft already operates in Hyderabad, and which currently has about 150 engineers developing key Microsoft products and technologies.

"We will increase the number of engineers we have in development to 500 by 2005," Gates said.

Microsoft's India Development Center (IDC) in Hyderabad is developing key technologies for the .Net platform, including Visual J# .Net, which integrates the Java language into the Visual Studio .Net shell, and enables the Java language to integrate with the other programming languages supported by the .Net framework. The IDC also has responsibility for development of newer versions of Windows Services for Unix (SFU), including its integration with Microsoft's Interix product line to develop a unified SFU product that offers both interoperability and migration from Unix to Windows.

The IDC is also working on a number of Microsoft products including next versions of the Microsoft Office suite. Microsoft announced recently that it was setting up a group at the IDC to work on the development of software for enterprise storage management applications.

Microsoft, of Redmond, Washington, is also investing in computer literacy programs in India. Besides contributing the software, Microsoft will also assist in training about 80,000 school teachers and 3.5 million students in government-run schools in India. With the objective of helping bridge the digital divide in India, Microsoft is also investing in the localization of the Windows XP operating system and Microsoft Office. It will deliver a Hindi language version of Windows XP and Microsoft Office, and is working with local partners to support other Indian languages.

Microsoft also plans to spend on boosting partner support in India for its .Net platform, particularly among Indian software services companies who work for clients abroad. Besides investing in skills development around .Net, Microsoft also plans to work with these companies to develop .Net systems and devise strategies to offer them to the global market. Wipro Ltd. and Infosys Technologies Ltd., two software services companies in Bangalore, have recently set up .Net competency centers in India with Microsoft.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service

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