Microsoft Launches a Startup Incubator in India – Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure

Microsoft India has announced the launch of Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure in India. In a first for any technology company in India, the incubator will host 10 early-stage startups and help them build businesses in Cloud, Internet, and Mobile that can take the advantage of the Cloud such as e-commerce, mobile, media, social applications, gaming, education & healthcare, or even enterprise products.

The four-month incubation program will provide the selected startups with all the support and mentorship as part of a deep immersion program with the elite technical and business leaders in the industry, as well as at Microsoft, and investors with diverse experiences. The selected startups will also have access to all the resources of Microsoft’s BizSpark program and $60,000 in Azure credit through the Microsoft BizSpark Plus program. The program is part of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN), and hence the inducted startups will have access to the global resources of GAN.

Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure is hosted in Microsoft’s state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Bangalore, and you would have to be full-time on the site for the four months. The facility offers everything from work areas, meeting rooms, communications, video conferencing to even a usability lab for filming product demos. The incubator is not open for only Indian citizens/residents, but anyone from anywhere can apply. Of course, you would have to be in India during the program.

At the end of the four month program, Microsoft will organize an Investor Demo Day where Microsoft executives as well as angel investors and venture capitalists will check out your technology and listen to your pitch. Microsoft will also organize informal dinners each week and invite key industry leaders, influencers, and thought leaders to speak on relevant topics.

In a conversation over Skype, Amit Chatterjee(Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt Ltd) mentioned that success of this program will be measured by the success of these startups. Microsoft would not retain any equity or IP from the companies and is not a stakeholder in any way. Although, there are no definite plans, he was optimistic that if successful the program can scale up to include more startups in next phases or extend to other cities with a similar thriving startup ecosystem. A similar program has been announced in Seattle few weeks ago and one has been kicked off in Israel.

Starting today till July 1, 2012, you can apply for the program. Ten applicants, selected through a rigorous process of screening, will be invited to join the program in starting September 3, 2012. Details: http://www.microsoft.com/india/accelerator.

Microsoft launches Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 for Tablets and PCs in India

Microsoft has introduced the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 for the Indian market making it one of the first multi-platform Bluetooth keyboards to be launched in India.

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At less than three-quarters of an inch thick and 400 grams in weight, the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 is a slim and sleek alternative helping you get rid of pesky wires, docks, or trans-receivers. I’ve been using the Microsoft Arc keyboard for several months and have been looking for an alternative that takes away the need for a trans-receiver. The small unit can easily be lost and also occupies a USB port all the time. The Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 is very easy on the hands and has an ergonomic Microsoft Comfort Curve design. The design promotes a more natural wrist position whether you are working on a desk or in a casual posture.

“Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile keyboard 5000 is especially designed for people on the move and as the market for mobile products such as the Tablets and Laptops increases; this is poised to become an accessory consumers would definitely want”.

Mr Satish Parreddi, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Retail Sales & Marketing, Microsoft India

The compact keyboard offers full functionality of a keyboard and is compatible with both tablets and PCs, although it is small enough to slip into a bag. Priced at an attractive price of INR 3350 in India, the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 works equally well with Microsoft Windows (Windows Vista and Windows 7), iPad, iPad2, and many Android devices. Available only in black color, the keyboard requires the standard AAA batteries.

[email protected] for 7.5 Million Users–Microsoft’s Biggest Cloud Deployment Ever!

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the governing body for technical education in India as part of India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, has adopted Microsoft [email protected] as one solution amongst many such initiatives with IT majors and Industries. The cloud adoption with an aim to improve technical education and prepare students for the workforce of tomorrow would see deployment over the next three months to more than 10,000 technical colleges and institutes throughout India.

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[email protected] is a hosted communication and collaboration service that offers email, Microsoft Office Web Apps, instant messaging and storage to AICTE’s more than 7 million students and nearly 500,000 faculty members, for a total reach of 7.5 million users. The numbers clearly make AICTE Microsoft’s largest cloud customer ever. The implementation is managed by Microsoft and a set of [email protected] partners. Full deployment is expected to be complete by summer 2012. In 2010, Microsoft rolled out [email protected] to some 700,000 students in Kentucky, United States which was considered the largest cloud deployment in the US at that time.

“India is seeing rapid economic activity and growth. Developing India’s youth and their skills is going to play an important role in the country’s inclusive growth. The PPP model (public-private partnership) is most essential in running and managing training institutions to address the skill gap most efficiently. I congratulate both AICTE and Microsoft on this significant milestone.”

– Mr. Kapil Sibbal, Union Minister for HRD

[email protected] is the first step in cloud computing for AICTE, as it further plans to deploy Microsoft Office 365 for education when it becomes available later this year. AICTE believes that the cloud deployment will expand students’ access to high-quality technical education and collaboration and is a step in supporting broader educational reforms. In India, both the higher education and IT industry are becoming increasingly vital to the economy.

“Microsoft’s cloud platform will make for a truly progressive ecosystem and contribute to the country’s technical education by providing a better communication and collaboration platform for institutes and students.”

– Dr. S. S. Mantha, Chairman, AICTE

[email protected] is the leading cloud suite for education, with more than 22 million people using the service worldwide (Google’s similar offering has around 14 million users) in more than 10,000 schools in over 130 countries. [email protected] is a no-cost hosted platform for student communication and collaboration. It provides students with the professional tools to prepare them for college or work and is easy to set up, administer, and manage.

Gears of War 3 to Launch in India on September 20; Pre-order Begins

Gears of War 3 is  a spectacular conclusion to one of the most memorable and celebrated sagas in video games. The game is now available for pre-order before the official launch in India  on September 20. You can place your order at the Microsoft India Online Store as well as select retail outlets across the country. There’s more good news: with all pre-orders, you can redeem an additional multiplayer character.

Gears of War 3

Developed by Epic Games exclusively for Xbox 360, Gears of War 3 plunges you into a harrowing tale of hope, survival, and brotherhood. The trilogy comes to an end with this new addition starring Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad. Gears of War 3 features an enthralling cinematic story with an unparalleled gameplay. It pushes the envelope for stunning visuals on Xbox 360. The game will be available in two editions: standard and legendary edition at an estimated retail price of INR 2499 and INR 3499 respectively.

To mark the launch of the game, Microsoft has also announced an online gaming challenge. You need to register your team at http://www.facebook.com/xbox360india. Only two teams will survive the online challenge; and will be a part of an immersive GoW3 gaming challenge in Delhi. The two squads will be flown to Delhi to reveal Gears of War 3 at the launch party. All members of the winning team will get a Kinect sensor each, Gears of War 3 CDs, and exclusive Gears of War merchandize. Runners up will get a GoW 3 CD each with exclusive Gears of War merchandise. The three runner-up teams will win exclusive Gears of War merchandize. Even if you are cheering for one of the teams, you stand a chance to win some Gears of War T-shirts and limited edition posters.

Microsoft Says 86% Indians Buy Genuine Software

Although India may be a among the top countries where software piracy is on the rise but a recent Microsoft study has revealed that a majority of Indians buy genuine software. A global study conducted by software major Microsoft recently points us to the fact that more than 86 per cent of Indian customers purchase genuine software even though they retail at sky-high prices.

Microsoft had conducted this survey on over 38,000 people in 20 countries. According to the results of this survey, data loss and identity theft are the top-most concerns of the Indian consumers. Microsoft also said that more than 6000 Indian customers have reported incidents of pirated or illegal software to Microsoft India in the last two years.

Among other statistics, over 50 per cent consumers feel issues such as stolen password and lost data are more likely to happen with counterfeit software and as many as 75 per cent of   Indian consumers feel that genuine software was more secure and stable.

Image Courtesy

Microsoft India’s Online Store Redesigned, Gets A New Home

With Windows 7, Microsoft unveiled a newly designed online store to complement their brick and mortar stores. The website design is simple, elegant and offers a wide range of products. For quite some time Microsoft India has had an online store at BuyOriginalMS.com, the URL indicated Microsoft’s intentions behind the website — help consumers buy original Microsoft products. Recently, Microsoft India released an updated store at MicrosoftStore.co.in which now sports  the same design as the global website. If one was to visit BuyOriginalMS now, they would be redirected to the new website. My first visit to the new website made me cringe. There were three reasons for this:

  • the logo placeholder has wrong dimensions. And this in my opinion is a horrendous blunder on the web designer’s part.
  • the website has no favicon.
  • some pages don’t have proper titles.

The range of products offered is limited and some products haven’t been added yet eg: Xbox 360. The website seems to be a work-in-progress which makes me wonder as to why would they decide to redirect their visitors to an incomplete website. Having said that, I am pleased and excited that Microsoft has localized the global store website for India and is even offering books for purchase. The website lists ‘Computers’ indicating that Microsoft plans to offer crap-ware free OEM PCs in India as well as Windows phones via the website.

One can shop using Mastercard or Visa card. The prices mentioned on the website are exclusive of taxes and delivery charges, products have varying Delivery charges and taxes.