By Toneo T Rutsito
Yesterday the Microsoft East and Southern Africa Team graced Harare to officially launch the much anticipated windows 8 and a chain of its related products in an Networking conference aptly “Microsoft Open Door”, officially opened by ICT Minister Nelson Chamisa
Microsoft has coincided its second annual technical education and networking conference where more than 300 ICT enthusiasts and trading industrial experts converged.
The General Manager for Microsoft East and Southern Africa, Mr Eric Odipo said “with the launch of windows 8 , Microsoft has unveiled a reimagined Windows to the world, Instead of forcing people to adapt to technology, we focus on consumerisation where technology adapts to the people`s needs.”
Microsoft Windows 8 launch dived deep into the details and practical demonstration of how to get your way round the new operating system platform while it also concurrently unveiled the Microsoft office 2013 and its server version the windows server 2012.
One interesting feature is the pinch to zoom which they have roped in, the same feature at the centre of controversy in the Apple vs Samsung lawsuit.
While officially opening the event , the ICT minister Honourable Nelson Chamisa who gave a no-holds barred speech filled with frankness and openness as they switched the podium with the permanent Secretary Engineer Sam Kundishora were both hard on Microsoft and piracy as they traded the same sentiments.
What was rather shocking was the announcement that 92% of Zimbabweans are using pirated software, a revelation delivered by the Mr Odipo as he gave his keynote address making Zimbabwe one of the highest ranking pirating country in the world.
According to Microsoft` s General Manager, the report was based on the findings by the 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study pitting Zimbabwe amongst the top three pirating countries world wide.
Honourable Nelson Chamisa came hard on the comment stating that he was earlier on discussing with the Media and Information Minister Webster Shamu on lobbying for much stiffer penalties against pirating.
“Pirating is destroying our industry, we need to take this monster head on any form of pirating has to be curbed and much more stiffer penalties would need to be adopted to make sure that we send our message against piracy loud and clear,
We should penalise people with pirated copies , those distributing them and anyone who harbours them”, said Chamisa
Chamisa also said that the Zimbabwe government and Microsoft are in the process of signing a Memorandum Of Understanding. The Microsoft General Manager confirmed the development during the interview but he did not shed any much light of the context.
The permanent Secretary in the ICT ministry Engineer Sam Kundishora added weight to the statement when he confirmed that the government is the largest consumer of Microsoft products in Zimbabwe.
With an all high time rating of 92% it would be actually wiser for Microsoft or other software companies to trade cautiously as only 8% of Zimbabweans are said to be trading on the officially licenced products.
I Personally agree with the high piracy levels in Zimbabwe but a figure of 92% will only leave me questioning the source and the methodology used to ascertain such a terrifying figure as most large entreprises in Zimbabwe insists on genuine software and licences.
In a statement Engineer Kundishora encouraged Microsoft to return back to Zimbabwe and establish official offices as he currently treats it like a brief case business in Zimbabwe.
So much has been happening against the Microsoft software in Zimbabwe and with its absence on ground it virtually has no one in command or to speak on its behalf save for some Microsoft certified partners who merely represents the products they sell.
The ICT minister noted that to fight piracy in Africa, Microsoft also has to implement a pricing system with Africa and the youths in mind who although they may appreciate the Microsoft products, they are forced into piracy due to its steep charges.
He was however quick to mention that poverty is not an excuse to commit any criminal offense as pirating deprives the creators of content off their Intellectual Property (IP) right.
Protecting IP fosters innovation which leads to economic growth, job creation and encourages development of knowledge-based industries . When people invest time and considerable resources into nurturing an idea or product, only to have their ideas stolen it breaks down the research and development cycle resulting in less investment into new ideas . Simply put, piracy stifles innovation said a Microsoft source.
Although the Microsoft event lived up to the expectation, some technology enthusiasts felt the launch failed to do them justice as not much was shown or said on the Windows 8 tablet, the Windows RT and the new Huawei phone Microsoft 4Africa phone.
Hopes of seeing the latest tech gadgets in action sunk low and under as Microsoft gave preference and emphasis on other products including their cloud based system, the new Office package and latest Windows server.
By Toneo T Rutsito