Microsoft launches Office 365 in Kenya
By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya
Software maker Microsoft will on Thursday launch its newest Windows operating system, Office 365, in Kenya.
Office 365 is cloud-based, meaning that it can be accessed remotely. It brings together Windows operating systems such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft Lync Online, all of which enable computer users to use enterprise email, shared documents, instant messaging, video and web conferencing, portals and more within a short time.
The firm will, however, slap a monthly fee on the new system in line with what it is doing in other parts of the world.
Microsoft says this fee will mainly be determined by use. In other markets, such as the US where the service has been launched, the monthly subscription fees ranges between Sh168 (USD2) and Sh2, 268 (USD27) per user.
Louis Otieno, Microsoft’s general manager for East and Southern Africa, said with Office 365 businesses will not need to invest in internal servers or data storage facilities thereby reducing their IT costs by up to an estimated 50% while boosting productivity.
“With Office 365, businesses or even the government can work on files and documents at the same time and share ideas as easily as they can share calendars it also gives people new ways to work together with ease, on virtually any device,” said Mr Otieno.
Microsoft is targeting, government, corporate and small medium business with this latest product.
“With this product it will be possible for the government to issue its entire staff across the country with e-mail accounts in less than an hour,” said Otieno. Retail prices for Microsoft traditional software are pegged on the user groups, for example students, home users, and NGOs that pay lower amounts compared to enterprise users.
Two weeks ago, Kenya’s Finance Minister, Njeru Githae, removed import duty on software, a move aimed at making it cheaper for users and also to attract foreign investors into the IT industry.
Vendors sell their software either by loading them onto CDs or offering a user licence. Software loaded on CDs attracts a 25% import duty and 16% value added tax (VAT). Customers who buy the user license only pay the VAT.
The Microsoft launch will also include the Nigerian and South African markets, where the firm says this has been made possible by the improved telecoms infrastructure.
Kenya has four undersea cables: Seacom, Essay, TEAMs, and LION, which connect the country to the rest of the world and vast inland fibre optic infrastructure across the country.
This has allowed telecommunication firms such as Kenya Data Networks, Safaricom and Dimension Data to launch storage facilities for electronic documents (data centres) which was not possible before.