NEW DELHI, INDIA: Microsoft India has unveiled the ‘Unlimited Potential’ in India and has also launched the Microsoft IQ PC and MSN IQ beta education portal.
Announcing the program here to the media, Orlando Ayala, vice president of the emerging segments market development group at Microsoft said: “Our founding vision of ‘a computer in every desktop and in every home’ has reached the first billion people, in the developed countries. With ‘Unlimited Potential’ we are determined to reach the next billion people by 2015.”
Elaborating further, Ravi Venkatesan, chairman of Microsoft India said that the new program was aimed at creating relevant and affordable technology solutions for Indians. “The program is focussed on transforming education, fostering local innovation and enabling jobs and opportunities,” he said.
Microsoft launched its ‘Connected Learning Framework’ called IQ, which will scale-up its existing initiatives such as Project Shiksha and broaden the opportunity.
IQ is a combination of an online and offline content tied to all aspects of students’ learning process and growth. A key offering of the program is the pilot launch of IQ PC in partnership with AMD, a low cost computer with pre-loaded applications for the school going children.
“IQ PC is aimed at school going children from Kindergarten to class 12. The PC is built on AMD hardware in partnership with Zenith as the designated OEM. Additionally, Microsoft and AMD are also working towards collaborating with WIPRO to deliver IQ-PC on Wipro's ultra-value,” Venkatesan informed.
The IQ PC will include Windows, Office / Works, Encarta, Student 2007 and specialized education solutions from a host of key partners. The content focuses on the key concerns of families, be it the learning of English as a language, tutorials for competitive examinations, or ensuring a seamless transition from class work to homework.
Microsoft also announced the launch of the MSN IQ Beta Education Channel which will be a repository of educational as well as edutainment content. Students access curriculum for classes Kindergarten to 12th, avail of online tutoring; competitive exam coaching; online entertainment; referencing and online counseling. Leading industry personalities will also provide some specialized editorial content for the channel.
Initially, Microsoft will launch the IQ offerings – both the PC and the Education Channel - in Bangalore and Pune starting 1st July and will roll out to the rest of the country by November.
The IQ offerings are supported by a host of partners, both hardware and software, who have extensive experience, understanding and are leaders in their area of operations. For content the partners include Brilliant Tutorials, Junior Achievement, Pacsoft, Karadi tales, Gurujiworld, Edurite and TutorVista.
For hardware globally, Microsoft is supported by Intel and AMD through their respective programs, World Ahead and 50/15. The companies are working to align common objectives to achieve maximum impact for ICT growth in India.
Tied into relevance is accessibility, and to achieve that, Microsoft announced a strategic partnership with Sify Corporation: The Sify iWay countrywide chain of internet cafes will have special provision for enabling access to Microsoft’s initiatives for students, job seekers and small businesses.
Enabling Jobs and Opportunities
Microsoft is working with partners in government and industry to build an employability portal that will aid the country’s nearly 400,000 engineering students who graduate each year to improve their technology, business and communication skills through online training and verification. It will aim to address the growing need expressed by the IT and ITEs industry. The portal is scheduled to launch by the end of 2007.
Earlier this month, Microsoft India announced the roll out of Project Vikas, an initiative which aims to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs in twenty three pre identified economic clusters via IT adoption in partnership with NMCC. The program got underway with the launch of an SME portal and a successful IT adoption program in the Tirupur cluster.
These programs are in continuum of the success Microsoft has already enjoyed with the work it has been doing in partnership with non-governmental organizations to help foster entrepreneurship and support job creation.
Fostering Local Innovation
Recognizing the unique need of the Indian market, Microsoft Research and the India Development Centre are working to develop tools, technologies and solutions that will address issues relevant to India and other emerging markets. Some successes in this area include MultiPoint - a simple yet powerful technology which will enable multiple children to share a single PC using multiple mice. For the purposes of primary education, it can multiply the benefit of a single computer by three, four, five, or more.
For this purpose, Microsoft will be launching the Digital StudyHall (DSH), an independent research project primarily supported by Microsoft Research, which aims to overcome both the problems of staff shortage and availability of standardized study material among underserved communities. Simply put, it records and distributes DVDs of subject classes led by India’s best grassroots teachers. Underserved areas can access the DSH database via DVDs, while areas that are more developed will be able to access the content via the Internet.
“The task we have set ourselves – of bringing technology to peoples so far on the other side of the divide – is a mammoth one, and we recognize that. This is just the beginning and we are confident we will succeed; and our confidence stems from the support we get from our partners. By bringing together the creative power of local governments, ISVs, universities, small businesses, investors, individuals, we can help foster an environment for innovative ideas,” Venkatesan added.
According to Microsoft, the ‘Unlimited Potential’ program will draw on the substantial resources and business expertise of Microsoft and its partners to create a model that enables new market opportunities as one billion consumers in India and elsewhere, join the global economy in the next decade.