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Microsoft to bet on cloud and inter-devices access in 2015

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Microsoft has had a busy calendar year to say the least. From an Indian taking over the reins as CEO in Satya Nadella to the acquisition of Nokia devices business, the IT major has been in the headlines throughout the year.

By Anirban Ghoshal

Revealing the company’s plans for the future, Microsoft India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik hinted that the firm is looking to edge over the competition especially in India using its cloud and inter-devices access.

“We want to be the productivity and platform company for this mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will empower every person and every organisation to do more and achieve more. And we will accomplish this by building incredible digital work and life experiences, supported our by Cloud Operating System, the Device Operating System and Hardware platforms,” Pramanik said.

Microsoft’s commercial cloud revenue hit a $4.4 billion annual run-rate and it has expanded its data centre footprint into Australia, Brazil, Japan and China. The company also launched two cloud-based services—the Enterprise Mobility Suite for handling identity and security on devices, and the Azure Intelligent Systems Service for managing the “Internet of Things.”

Pramanik said that the firm wanted to give users portability and ease of access. “This is why we acquired the Nokia devices and services business so that we can gain from Nokia’s already in place trust and cash in on the brand value to tap the emerging devices market in India.” He added that Microsoft was also expanding the devices group that includes Nokia phones, Xbox hardware, Surface, Perceptive Pixel products and other accessories.

But that is not the genius idea that Microsoft has to capture the market, it is the new Windows 10. According to Pramanik, the new version of Windows will work on all device platforms from Microsoft killing the need of the consumer to switch devices or buy devices from another brand. “We are here to focus on mobility and by mobility we mean the mobility of the individual and not the device. For example, an user can have the same settings on different devices as the OS will be same and configured to a Microsoft Live ID.” Further explaining his stand, Pramanik reminded about the Cortana launch which is a virtual personal assistant that was built into Windows Phone 8.1. The virtual assistant is expected to learn and proactively provides info to users, while protecting their privacy.

When asked about specific plans to India, Pramanik said that Microsoft was actively in talks with the Centre and state governments and is looking to participate more. He also added that the IT major wants to carry out a pilot project in Bangalore that would connect 250,000 panchayats with broadband. He said that the firm wants to offer its White Space technology, which has been launched by the company in many parts of the world, including Kenya and the US. The broadband-connectivity technology deploys unused spectrum between two television channels. The project will be implemented in association with the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore, on its campus. “The scope of the project could be expanded later to cover areas around the campus. All it requires is routers and antennas. However, for any use of spectrum, government permission is required,” he said.

The range of the 200-300 megahertz spectrum in the White Space project is up to 10 kilometres compared to a Wi-Fi network, which can only cover 100 metres in radius. A Microsoft Research study said that 93% of the spectrum in this band is free. It will take around three months to complete the project.

Pramanik said Microsoft was ready to give away the technology for free to whoever was willing to implement the project—it could be telecom operators, banks or self-help women groups. He also said that the IT major would be interested in partnering the government in its citizen interface project— mygov.in where it seeks the citizen views on government initiatives.

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