Microsoft chief Bill Gates announced an investment of Rs. 2,000 crore in India over the next three years.
This will be Microsoft's biggest investment outside the US, barring the countries where the company has a manufacturing bases, Gates told reporters on Tuesday. Microsoft will channel this investment into four areas — education, partnerships, development and localisation.
About Rs. 500 crore will be spent on expanding infrastructure at the Hyderabad-based Microsoft India Development Centre in the next three years. The company plans to take the staff strength at the centre from the existing 200 to 500 during that period.
The company has also pledged support to accelerate computer literacy for which it has earmarked Rs. 100 crore for Project Shiksha. This will include training 80,000 schoolteachers and 3.5 million students over five years. It will partner state education departments to set up 10 Microsoft IT Academy Centres and collaborate with over 2,000 partner-driven school labs in five years.
Microsoft is also putting its strength behind its partners in India that are leading the way in developing applications on the .Net platform. “We will work together with Indian partners to develop .Net ready solutions and jointly devise go-to-market strategies for global consumption,” Gates said.
Given the threat posed by the Linux movement building up in India, Microsoft is planning to get more aggressive about localising its product suit.
Addressing a query on whether Microsoft is looking at a special pricing strategy for India in order to keep Linux at bay, Gates said in certain areas like education, pricing will only get more aggressive.
Gates met Communications and Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan and pledged Rs. 5 crore for the Media Lab Asia project.