Microsoft to Add 3,000 Jobs in India
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said Wednesday that his company plans to add 3,000 jobs in India over the next three to four years, nearly doubling its workforce here.
We have 4,000 professionals in India today, we will increase it to 7,000 over the next three to four years, Bill Gates told a forum of Indian business leaders.
Microsoft has long viewed India, a country of 1 billion people with a robust economy, as a potentially huge market.
In his fourth trip to the nation, Gates was to meet with senior Indian officials, business leaders and programmers and take stock of a $400-million investment program the company announced for India three years ago.
Gates didn't say if expanding staff in India would also involve new investments, but industry officials expect him to make some announcement later Wednesday.
Earlier this year, the company opened a research center in the southern city of Hyderabad, the fourth such Microsoft facility worldwide. Next month, the company plans to open an innovation center in Bangalore, India's technology hub, that will be part of a global network promoting education, entrepreneurial development and innovations by small businesses.
Gates said the company's efforts in India were aimed at narrowing the digital divide, by creating products that are not only affordable to the poor people but also address their unique needs.
Some of the ideas he raised included making a mobile phone work as a computer, and a television as a monitor. How about developing computers that respond to speech _ and not just in English _ rendering keyboards unnecessary?
These are the challenges of the future, Gates said, and India is a place where breakthroughs like these are necessary and will take place.
Although scores of Western companies have tapped India's large pool of technical workers by increasingly hiring either Indians or Indian firms to handle their software-related work, a large number of people in the country have no access to computers or the Internet.
More than 35 percent of the country's population can't read or write and nearly 400 million people earn less than a dollar a day. Still, a 300-million strong middle class and the country's booming economy make India a big market for western firms, including Microsoft.
Gates' visit comes at a time when many Indian companies are increasingly turning toward open source operating systems, particularly Linux, as a low-cost alternative to Windows.
Open source operating systems allow users to copy, distribute and modify the program's code, and are relatively cheap compared to proprietary systems like Windows, which does not allow users to modify its secret code.
While exact figures are hard to come by, a survey of Indian companies by Network Magazine released in June found that nearly 40 percent use Linux to run their servers.
The magazine polled 340 companies, and offered no margin of error.
However, Microsoft insists its market share in server operating systems grew from 57 percent in early 2004 to 65 percent in late 2005. During his previous visits, Gates has downplayed the Linux threat.