Microsoft outlines SA strategy

Microsoft South Africa says it has shifted its strategy to focus on cloud computing, and is working to provide the company’s services across all devices, not just those running Windows. By Nafisa Akabor.

Mteto Nyati

Mteto Nyati

It’s all about the cloud for Microsoft in South Africa. No, not the cirrus and cumulus variety — the software giant is shifting its focus to delivering cloud computing-based services to everyone, on every device.

And that includes non-Windows platforms, says Microsoft South Africa MD Mteto Nyati, citing the recently launched Office for iPad, the Microsoft Azure platform and Nokia X Android-powered smartphones.

“You will notice a big shift in the way we are doing things,” says Nyati. “These are just the first few decisions we’ve made. We are doing things that are not in line with the Microsoft you thought you once knew.”

Cloud services are now driving everything Microsoft does, he says, along with trying to get computing into the hands of everyone.

Of course, Windows remains a key focus, and Nyati says 90% of servers shipped in South Africa today run a Microsoft operating system. He claims, too, that Windows Phone is performing well in South Africa with a market share of 12%. Worldwide, this figure is just under 3%, he says.

On the consumer side, Microsoft has shifted its focus to what it’s calling “retail reinvention”.

Consumer channels group leader Melanie Botha says Microsoft has created “Windows Zones” within retail stores in markets, like South Africa, that don’t have Microsoft stores. Microsoft has set up 19 such zones in South Africa at retail stores such as Dion Wired and BT Games.

According to Botha, Microsoft is also addressing the small and medium enterprise market through a partnership with Vodacom. “We’re working with banks and [telecommunications operators] to get our products to market.”

Despite the new focus on cloud services, Microsoft still hasn’t launched Xbox Music in South Africa, despite promising several years ago that it was working with rights owners to introduce the service here. Botha now says it’s more likely that streaming video services will be launched through the Xbox before music. Microsoft’s next-generation console, the Xbox One, will be launched in South Africa in September.  — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media

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