Microsoft chief Bill Gates said that India was on course to becoming a global hub for "mission critical activity" in software as it was increasingly earning a reputation for its quality work and delivery on time.
Addressing developers here, Gates, on his maiden visit here, said two-three years back, if companies decided to do their mission critical work in India, it was then considered to involve enormous risk but no longer.
Gates said that in the last couple of years, Indian companies such as NASDAQ-listed Infosys Technologies Limited, based here, had built a worlwide reputation and earned a name for delivering quality work on schedule.
In the next few years, he predicted, firms in the US and Europe would be sure to insist that Indian companies be considered for doing all mission critical work. Later in a brief interaction with reporters, he said respect for intellectual property was an important element for driving the growth of software sector in India, both in services and emerging software product areas.
In the address to the developers, numbering around 2,500, at the event organised by NASSCOM and Microsoft at the Infosys Campus, Gates outlined his vision of a world of XML Web Services and shared his views on developing applications for the "Digital Decade" (2000-09).
"Software is a magic. Working in software is the most exciting business in this world", he remarked.
Nasscom President Kiran Karnik said India currently had a base of four lakh software developers, a number which is projected to grow to 13 lakh in four years.