Chris Atkinson, president, South-East Asia region, Microsoft Asia Pacific, repeatedly urged strict implementation of the Intellectual Property Law in the country in order to expect increased activity and investment from the world’s reigning software corporation.
Acknowledging the delay in efforts to localise computing good-humouredly, he said: ‘Everywhere I went (in Bangladesh) everyone was talking about why Microsoft has been so late to come to Bangladesh. All I can say is, well, better late than never.’
In an exclusive interview with New Age following the launching ceremony of the Bangla Language Interface Pack (LIP) for the upcoming Windows Vista operating system and Office 2007 suite, he revealed that a version of Microsoft’s flagship Operating System software geared at first-time Bangladeshi computer users would be released as soon as in a few months’ time.
Dubbed the ‘Windows Vista Starter Edition’, the OS will have the Bangla LIP pre-installed and is expected to dominate the country’s PCs. Microsoft is also hoping the raise amount the revenue earned from the land with the software — which currently is nowhere near the company’s yields in the West. Atkinson urged, however, that Bangladesh would have to work harder on implement IPL in order to expect increased investment from Microsoft.
‘There is this idea that developing countries can’t pay for software,’ he said. ‘But developing countries cannot but pay for software. If you don’t pay for software, there won’t be any software industry.’
‘Countries like Korea and Malaysia have made significant progress in reducing piracy in the last few years and venture capitalists are going there. In a study in Indonesia, we found that if you reduce piracy by 10 points, the software industry increases threefold, the tax amount paid is increased 5 times and the number of jobs is increased by 7 times.’
He also downplayed any possibilities of Open Source initiatives forcing Microsoft to resolve to such collaborative measures. ‘Microsoft is a company that is 31 years old and we are maturing. Choices are good. People can check out their options and find out what is best for them. People like our software for their quality,’ he said.
When asked how important the Bangladeshi ICT market was to Microsoft, he said that it is a populous country and there are many opportunities. He cited the fact that there are around 400 software companies here and was in high praise of local developers. ‘When talking about this region, most people only talk about India, but there are many skilled people and there are also many opportunities here.’
The venture, partnered with BRAC University and Bangladesh Computer Council, is geared at making computing a more relevant experience for the local population and creating opportunities for education, public and private services and addressing the digital divide.
The LIPs will also be available for download for genuine Windows XP (service pack 1 required) and Office 2003 Standard editions.