Microsoft is deepening its presence in India’s IT infrastructure with a new Aadhaar-ready version of its Skype video call service and other collaborative efforts with the government and private sectors.
Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising development to come out of this week’s Future Decoded event in Mumbai is Skype Lite, a small, 13MB version of the app that can function on slower connections, and also leverages Aadhaar authentication, using the country’s national biometric ID program to verify the identities of users. At any time during a call, a user can request the Aadhaar credentials of another user on the same call, with the system prompting that subject to enter her Aadhaar number along with a one-time-password sent to her phone.
Microsoft has evidently taken the Unique Identification Authority of India up on its invitation to collaborate on Aadhaar-ready services as the government seeks to digitize Indian society. While other companies appear to have been more reluctant to open their technologies to government actors, Microsoft would seem a good fit for Aadhaar, given its embrace of biometric authentication with Windows 10’s Windows Hello security system.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has also established a partnership with e-commerce marketplace platform Flipkart, which will use Microsoft Azure for its cloud computing; and it has launched an app called Sangam that’s meant to connect low- and medium-skilled workers with educational resources and potential employers. Together with a rural digitization initiative with the Maharashtra government and the development of a messaging and task management app already being used by multiple government agencies, it all points to a deep investment in the Indian market for Microsoft, with an emphasis on technological innovation.
February 23, 2017 – by Alex Perala