Not ready to trade user experience for cost in devices: Microsoft India chief

Microsoft’s entry in the tablet market with Surface has put some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on a collision course with the tech major. In an interview to Business Line on the sidelines of a seminar in Kolkata, Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India, explains how Surface is likely to fare, and talks about the Windows 8 software and adoption of its mobile OS among Indian handset vendors.

Do you think OEMs are right in being worried that Surface might cause disruptions?

I do not think what they are saying is going to happen. The Surface is an excellent product in terms of design. I think OEMs look at it as a North Star.

A lot of PCs look same. There has not been much innovation around hardware. Now we are saying that we can do innovation on both (hardware and software).

Are you ready to sell your operating system (for tablets) to OEMs?

I do not think that is being done. I think all our OEMs are looking very seriously at coming out with their own devices. Wait till October 26 and you’ll see a whole new bunch of devices. (Microsoft is expected to launch Windows 8 on October 26.)

Are you willing to share the phone OS (Mango) with Indian OEMs or phone-makers?

We are open to anybody, any OEM who would want to build their phones with our OS.

But we are clear about the specifications in terms of the devices. We do not want a situation where you create a device and in order to keep the price low, the user experience is compromised with. We’re clear about that.

So has any Indian handset-maker showed interest in either your tablet or phone OS?

Tell me who is there in the Indian OEM market, even in the phone (category)? Most of them are ODMs (original design manufacturers which design and make a product that is branded by another). There is absolutely nobody now. Therefore, I do not think that the Indian manufacturing industry is still in that stage.

We are hopeful the new manufacturing policy will help have devices manufactured here.

Having applications on your Windows mobile platform was once an issue. Does the problem still exist?

How many apps do you want to see? We already have 1 lakh apps in the market. We are working closely with the developers but not just for the phone, but also for the Windows 8 OS. We are investing huge (amounts) on the application developers.

Are you willing to fund application-developer start-ups?

If it is interesting or requires that level of support, then yes. But at the moment we are providing support, mainly technical support, to all the app developers.

(This article was published on August 10, 2012)
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