Economic Times: February 23, 2017
Mumbai: Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella reaffirmed the company's commitment to India by unveiling a slew of India focused product rollouts, including a lighter version of Skype, on Wednesday in Mumbai.
Skype Lite, a lighter version of the video and voice calling software, has been especially designed for use in India's patchy telecom networks. With just a 13 MB footprint, the app allows communication and collaboration over low bandwidth networks including 2G connections and has features specifically designed for India including managing SMS by removing clutter, mobile data and WiFi usage monitoring, India-focussed Skype bots and power saving functionality.
The app will also have Aadhaar based verification feature built-in, with Microsoft partnering with India stack for this feature. “Aadhaar gives India the opportunity to own control over data. It also makes us as an MNC to operate in India responsibly by making sure that our services support the India stack and that’s what we are doing with Skype,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft, who is on the last leg of his three day visit to India. The integration of Aadhaar to the Android app will be complete by June 2017 and will help users verify unknown callers for transactions like job interviews, sale of good and property transactions.
“We see job interviews as being the core use case for Skype. We hope to further expand that to government and technology consumer scenarios. I could imagine Skype Lite being used for application of new licences, permits or a number of different government processes,” Eugene Ho, Director of Products at Skype told ET. Skype Lite will be available in 7 local languages and English.
Project Sangam is another India-first rollout that the company announced. A joint initiative from Microsoft and LinkedIn, Project Sangam allow users to register using Aadhaar to register on LinkedIn and enroll for skill development programs. Once the skills training programs are completed, their LinkedIn profiles will be updated and shortlisted for potential employers.
“Linkedin has a global white collar network globally, and we are now establishing the same at lower levels through Project Sangam. We are backing it up with Aadhaar so that verification of profiles can be done and at the same time, ensure that governments have all the capabilities to understand who’s getting trained and who’s not,” Anil Bhansali, MD – R&D at Microsoft India told ET.
Microsoft has also joined hands with India’s largest lender State Bank of India to bring on board the bank on its Office 365 cloud platform. “It is phenomenal to see the digital transformation where some of the largest banks are now deciding that they want to be able to take advantage of what the cloud gives them so that they can be more of a technology company,” said Nadella. The partnership with SBI follows Microsoft’s strategic cloud partnership with Flipkart which will see the Indian ecommerce giant adopt Microsoft Azure as its exclusive public cloud computing platform.
In keeping with the Indian government’s ambition of enabling smart cities, Microsoft is also looking to leverage its cloud technologies to work with the Maharashtra government on the ‘Smart Villages’ program. With the pilot having begun in the village of Harisal in Maharashtra, Nadella outlined that Microsoft’s vision was to take the program to over 100 villages in the state.
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