John Paul

Microsoft Redeems Itself!

My post last Thursday criticized Microsoft’s potential release of a stripped down version of its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system for emerging markets. I thought this was the wrong approach; rather than strip features out, Microsoft should be figuring out which applications to add in. Apparently the company is!

BusinessWeek reports on some interesting research going on at one of Microsoft’s labs in India:

“Microsoft has developed a prototype of a system that would connect illiterate domestic workers in India with families seeking their services. The system uses pictures, video and voice commands to tell women what jobs are available, how much the jobs pay and where they are.”

Raj Reddy, a Carnegie Mellon professor and Microsoft technical advisor, says that his early research in rural Indian villages showed a disconnect between what people think rural residents need from technology, and what those people really want. To address this, Microsoft is working with a local advocacy group to better understand how their target market perceives the applications they are creating.

Other technology research for emerging markets includes: software data collection and ethnography for rural pc kiosks, research on computer use in agriculture and education, and telemedicine.

Such researchis “the first step toward creating broader tools to help illiterate people benefit from technological advances.” Definitely a step in the right direction!