At Microsoft, Seeking the Next Billion Computer Users
Monday, October 15, 2007
Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer got Microsoft its first billion customers. It’s Will Poole’s job to get the next billion. Poole, who co-leads Microsoft’s emerging-markets push, is chartered with enabling the company’s goal of allowing 1 billion more people to access computing technology by 2015.
The company has a number of efforts under way in the area, from the Starter Editions of Windows XP and Vista, to shared computers for classrooms, to research into turning a cell phone into a low-cost computer by connecting it with a large display. Poole said the last effort, which has garnered a fair bit of interest, is moving from the drawing board to reality.
“We’ve got it in development in China right now,” he said during a recent meeting with CNET News.com reporters and editors. “We’ve got a manufacturing partner signed on with us and our group in Beijing is working quite hard on it. It’ll be in trials I think within a year, and we’ll see how people respond to it.”
In the meeting, Poole talked about Microsoft’s approach, as well as some of the challenges, which stretch well beyond the fact that many people can’t afford the latest technology. In actuality, relevance and accessibility are bigger hurdles for the world’s poor, Poole said.
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