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MS, Wipro may go hand in hand to take on IBM — To enter into BPO relationship soon

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THE Chief Architect of Microsoft, Mr Bill Gates, thrilled the 1,000-odd strong crowd of Wipro employees when he announced that the two companies had a "great future ahead of them."

He went on to suggest that Microsoft and Wipro could go to the market together, to take on Microsoft's biggest rival, IBM. "IBM is our biggest rival. It is in the technology business as well as the services business," he said. If Microsoft with its technology and Wipro with its services expertise could take a single company approach, they could outdo IBM, he added.

Mr Vivek Paul, Vice-Chairman, Wipro, later told newspersons that Mr Gates had discussed this aspect with him earlier in the morning.

''The "sell with" approach will generate value for both sides," he said. While no formal agreement has been made, Mr Paul said that it was "an opportunity that we both see and can exploit."

Making the other big announcement, Mr Paul said that Wipro was entering into a BPO relationship with Microsoft. "We are in the process of just rolling it out. Give us a week to come out with the details," Mr Paul said.

Mr Gates in his speech heaped praise on India in general and Wipro in particular.

"I often say that India has a role to play as a software superpower. The key to this is the high quality of education here. The country has to be complimented for making those investments in education and continuing to do so," he said. He said that Microsoft was a large and satisfied customer of Wipro and would be investing more in relationship with Wipro. "Soon it will be commonsense whenever there is a complex project of quality to be delivered to say ''How about we talk to Wipro about this?" he said, eliciting another round of cheers.

Wipro has four levels of relationship with Microsoft: It is a customer of Microsoft products, a reseller, undertakes R&D outsourcing and develops products for Microsoft, and finally may sell with Microsoft to the global market.

While Microsoft is not one of its top 10 customers, Wipro has a dedicated near shore facility in Seattle for the Redmond-based giant. Wipro has a total of 150-plus people working on Microsoft projects.

Brindging ties

What would the chief of one of the biggest IT organisations in India have discussed with the CEO of the biggest software company in the world? Business of course, together with charitable efforts x the specific reason for Mr Bill Gates' current visit to India. A third topic was their common personal passion for the game of bridge. Mr Paul said he offered to play a round with him. However, Mr Gates reportedly declined, but invited Mr Paul to play with him online.

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