Microsoft seeks to assist SMEs

HARARE - International technology giant Microsoft says it is committed to assist Zimbabwean small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs with a cloud-based portal that offers various tools for business growth.

The company’s director, Rotimi Olumide, recently told delegates in Harare that Microsoft was willing to allow Zimbabwean businesspeople to use its systems for free as part of the firm’s strategy to play a role in the country’s economy.

“A number of African countries are recognising the role of the SME sector in driving economic growth, social development, youth employability and a key lever in the enhancement of Africa’s global competitiveness.

“As such, we have developed a number of tools that help SMEs to reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to their economies,” he said.

Olumide added that Microsoft will continue working in Zimbabwe despite the country’s deteriorating economic conditions.

“Zimbabwe is an important market for us. It is an emerging market, an area for which there are loads of opportunities for growth with meaningful impact,” he added.

This comes after the global giant recently launched an online hub offering free access to email, web hosting and collaboration tools for established businesses and start-ups alike.

Microsoft also announced its intention to offer Windows 10 operating system for free starting in July this year.

Information technology experts say the decision to offer Windows 10 for free is a major shift for Microsoft, which used to make the majority of its money from selling its operating system.

The first version, Windows 1, was launched by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in November 1985.

Windows 10 will work across PCs, mobile, tablets and the company’s Xbox gaming console.

The new system will also feature Windows Start menu, which was controversially dropped in Windows 8.

The latest development comes after analysts had previously called for Microsoft to make the move to offer Windows for free in order to compete with its rivals, which do not charge for their operating systems.

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