• Microsoft and Internet for All

    The world is currently in a globalization state of mind so Microsoft thought that it would be good time to go the same way and work with governments around the world to make Internet access available to everyone.

    The company has launched the Shape the Future program, a program that works with national or municipal governments in public-private partnerships, to connect the billions of people that currently don't have Internet, the priority being students and their families as well as educators.

    Dan MacFetridge, business development director for Microsoft’s Shape the Future program said that “education is always a government priority, but changing the conversation from ‘prove that a PC makes for better grades’ to one where you can demonstrate the political and economic value makes these initiatives rise to the top of a government’s priority list.”

    The Shape the Future program has already been launched in several countries, including the Philippines, Georgia, Brazil, Kuwait, the UK and Portugal, and so far it is a win-win-win situation for all parties, as MacFetridge says.

    The governments are improving social and economic development as well as the country’s competitiveness, by easing digital teaching and learning skills for teachers and students, and at the same time, students and their families have access to information anytime and anywhere, which makes studying and a career more successful.

    MacFetridge says that “whether in the suburbs of London or a remote hillside in Mongolia, equal access to quality education is a critical determinant of success and integration to society,” and this program helps people that otherwise would not have had the opportunity of having their own computer.

    He adds that “reaching the next billion users will come as a result of creating these inclusive and sustainable initiatives.

    “It is not about donating software; it is about investing in the future of the next generation of business leaders, consumers and educators.”

    Governments that have already initiated this program are satisfied, because, as the UK has found out, it also has economical advantages.

    Britain has commissioned a report by Price Waterhouse Coopers, less than a year ago, which estimated the overall potential benefit of getting all its citizens online was in excess of £22 billion.

    After this estimation, the one-student, one-laptop program became a reality as Microsoft and other private companies joined forces with the government ion a public-private partnership and managed to deliver laptops to 260,000 students in six months-time.

    The success of the Home Access program triggered an even more ambitious goal: getting 10 million people online by 2012, as part of the Race Online 2012 program.

    The Shape the Future program is adapting to the needs and possibilities of every country and every goal depends on the country’s economy, infrastructure, environment and political agenda.

    For the Philippines program, for example, it was not easy at the country has over 16 million students spread across more than 7,000 islands and had a ratio of 1:25,000 PC-to-student.

    Within a year, the program helped the Philippines develop the Windows MultiPoint Server in thousands of public schools throughout the country, so that even if every student did not have their own computer, at least they could have access to a shared one, along with Learning Suite educational resources, Partners in Learning training, and Microsoft Office.

    In this case, both the country and Microsoft had something to win, because, on one hand, Microsoft got chosen instead of Linux or OpenOffice, and on the other hand the deal satisfied the country's needs.

    Michelle Casio, country education lead for Microsoft Education said that “the key was sitting down with the government with a clear intent of concern and passion that we as Microsoft are trying to address their pains and needs rather than selling products.”

    “The customer recognized that we would be able to help them narrow their digital divide problem, [so]
    it really is like a marriage.”

    The Shape the Future program will not stop until its mission is complete, because as MacFetridge says “access to the Internet and technology should be a right, not a privilege.”

    Source: Softpedia
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Appzalien's Avatar
      Appzalien -
      Sounds more like "BIG BROTHER" to me. An excuse to keep tabs on everyone in the world.