Microsoft fans expecting any product announcements from CEO Satya Nadella's keynote address in Mumbai earlier today, would have been disappointed. Nadella's speech and announcements were all about eGovernance and enriching people's lives through technology, especially Mircosoft's.
One of the biggest reveals in Nadella's address was the launch of the Skype Lite app that has been designed specially for India. The app, which works for calling through low latency networks, can be integrated with the Aadhaar ID number. So, a caller's credentials — say, in the course of an online job interview — can be verified through their Aadhaar number and an OTP during the call and the data is wiped out once the session is over. Microsoft has worked on making the app localised, with support for seven languages including Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi and Urdu.
"At Microsoft, we aim to empower every Indian and every Indian organization to achieve more," Nadella said, speaking at the Future Decoded event in Mumbai. "With the transformative power of the cloud, we are enabling Indian start-ups, businesses of all sizes, and government agencies to build new digital capability, find new growth and seize the opportunities ahead."
Nadella also talked at length about the Sangam app, that helps people find jobs and offers them educational services. The app made its debut in Andhra Pradesh and it helps people in low- and medium-skilled sectors find work through verified listings.
While giving a demo of the app, a Microsoft representative also explained how it can be used in the field of education. Users can download lessons and watch them online to learn more about different subjects. Sangam too has been integrated with Aadhaar, allowing a job seeker to enter their relevant details along with their Aadhaar number for purposes of verification. She can also sign up for the popular LinkedIn professional networking site in the process. Microsoft is using LinkedIN Lite in the Sangam app to power job searches.
Earlier this week, Nadella met with Nandan Nilekani, who set up the Aadhaar project in India.
The Microsoft CEO also mentioned at the keynote that his company is working on a bunch of tools which use the India stack or the set of software services developed by the government in partnership with other companies to push cashless and paperless authentications.
At the keynote, Mircosoft also showed off Kaizala, a messaging and collaboration app that is being used by several Indian government bodies, including the government of Andhra Pradesh. The AP government is using Kaizala to manage an annual 12-day mega festival that sees over 20 million participants. Nadella said that the app is also being used in the ongoing Uttar Pradesh elections.
Nadella also met with IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday and the two discussed the success of Harisal, a digi-village initiative undertaken by Microsoft in partnership with the Maharashtra government. "We have appreciated their initiative for digital inclusion in the village," Prasad said after the meeting. "The Harisal pilot project in Maharashtra, where they brought in a lot of technology and connectivity for digital health and digital education." According to reports, during the meeting, the government also explored the possibility of Aadhaar being linked with other services.
While Nadella's keynote mostly focused on Aadhaar and eGovernence services being propelled by Microsoft apps, he talked about a few other products as well. For instance, the State Bank of India has started using Office 365 for its internal work and Tata group companies are using Azure and other services to boost their manufacturing capabilities.
On Monday, Flipkart announced that it is tying up with Microsoft to drive cloud computing based innovation for the company. According to emerging reports, the e-commerce company is also in talks with the Redmond-based tech giant as a potential investor.
During his India visit, Nadella has also focused on pitching Microsoft products to startups, besides partnering with governing bodies in as many ways as possible. The company has also shown a keenness to work on the India stack. With the Aadhaar scheme being pushed by the Indian government in every technological aspect possible in recent times, Microsoft's various Indian initiatives indicate that it is keen to collaborate with the government.