As we mentioned yesterday in connection with Bill Gates’ trip to India, he is, among many other activities, joining the 200 delegates at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum (GLF) Asia today in New Delhi:
During the two-day forum, government, academia and industry leaders from around the Asia Pacific and other regions will explore how they can use information and communication technology (ICT) to help their industries and organizations remain competitive in an increasingly connected, technology-driven world.
Microsoft announced a number of programs to that end, including a Worldwide Network of Software Innovation Centers:
Microsoft Corp. will create a global network of 90 Microsoft® Innovation Centers (MICs) designed to foster strong, self-sustaining local software economies. Microsoft will operate the centers in alliance with local governments, academic institutions, industry organizations and software vendors, with the ultimate goal of fueling long-term economic growth in regions where the centers are located.
These seem to be typical vendor “customer centers” and in fact many of them existed previously under different names – they merely have been renamed and “repurposed.” Microsoft Corporate VP’s Sanjay Parthasarathy and Tim Chen explain more in the press Q&A:
PressPass: What is Microsoft announcing this week?
Parthasarathy: We are teaming up with software venders, governments and academic institutions around the world to create a network of roughly 90 Microsoft Innovation Centers. Sixty are open today. Another 30 are slated to open in 2006. These centers will help build the infrastructure and market for commercial software by offering training, product testing facilities, networking and partnership opportunities and other resources.
Parthasarathy: Right now, many of these facilities are known as XML Centers, .NET Centers or Solutions Centers. Their resources are loosely but not formally aligned. This has lead to partners in some countries requesting resources offered at centers in other countries.
From now on, the centers will not only have a consistent name; they will also offer consistent resources. We’ve leveled the playing field and plan to provide the same experience at all of these centers, while maintaining the flexibility to meet the different needs of different countries.
Parthasarathy: All will offer content and services in three specific areas. One area, intellectual capital, will include software development courses, training in the areas of business skills and market development and employment programs for students. Another area will foster industry partnerships by helping create industry clusters and software quality and certification programs. The other area is innovation; we plan to promote advances in 64-bit computing architecture, Microsoft Windows Vista development and other technologies through hands-on labs and other resources.