Using the Power of Partnerships to Bring Computing to Rural China – Orlando Ayala

I am in Urumqi where, today, we donated two InfoWagons to the province of Xinjiang, which brings the number of vehicles we have donated to eight across China.

In China, this donation is a key component of our focus on rural education and bringing the benefits of technology to the 5 billion people across the world who have not yet been fortunate enough to experience this.

One of the key components behind the InfoWagon donations is that they are designed to be partnerships with local governments, which underscores our belief that the power of partnerships offers the most efficient way to bring rural computing at scale to the people of China.

As I said to the attendees at the InfoWagon donation ceremony today, we at Microsoft are really glad to be able to partner with local government to bring the advantages of technology to rural people.

The InfoWagon program is an important way for us to help enable people, both socially and economically, and we are glad to be able to extend this pilot program to the Xinjiang province for the first time to provide access to rural communities on a broad basis.

Over the past fifteen years , Microsoft has focused on using software to provide opportunities for the advancement of those communities in which we operate.

I hope that the two InfoWagons we donated today will be an asset to provide opportunities for increased education through the use of technology, which will translate into economic opportunities for these rural communities.  (You can see more pictures from the donation event here)

We have donated InfoWagons to five provinces in China since May 2007, and so far some 6,000 farmers have been trained to use technology to help them work more effectively and efficiently. More than half of those farmers trained to date had also never seen a computer before.

I believe deeply that when human potential is enabled, society becomes better, and so Microsoft is looking forward to extending these partnerships to fully enable the provinces and the people of China to realize their full potential.

At Microsoft we are also pushing the boundaries of how to use software and technology to resolve challenges like rural farming. Apart from empowering these communities, it also helps us retain the best talent in the market as many of our employees want to work for a company that allows them to make a difference and be more relevant locally.

Initiatives like these will also help us create new and more relevant software, which will result in a stronger software industry. And, finally, economic advancements in rural areas will ultimately benefit the community, country and Microsoft, since these people could, in the longer term, become our customers.

Yesterday, we also launched the Founder Windows PC for Education with our local OEM partner, Founder, at a school in Miyun County, outside Beijing, which is part of the overall Rural Education PC Program.  You can see a photo gallery with more pictures of the event here.

The Founder Windows PC for Education will have Windows Vista and Windows Live preinstalled, along with new learning software tailored for the Chinese education market. Learning documentation will be provided for both parents and students, as will some basic computing and Windows Vista training especially designed for the first-time PC users and their families.

Giving these children access to the power of technology is a key way in which we can help them realize their full potential.

This partnership underscores our belief that enabling the potential of the community is paramount to its success. I am more convinced than ever before that software is an integral part of helping us all realize this potential, since it enables every aspect of business and those integral parts of our personal lives.

When we talk about human potential and software, the two are intertwined and integral to the community, in both good and challenging times.

At the Founder Windows PC event I expressed my condolences to all those affected by the recent Sichuan earthquake, and I reiterated our belief that every life has value. We have come together as a company to help the earthquake disaster relief efforts.

So far Microsoft and its staff have donated more than $3 million to these efforts, but our assistance has to go beyond just donating cash, it is about our employees coming together and committing to help with whatever else needs to be done.

Our staff in China have already risen to that challenge, and I am proud to talk about two ways they have done that. Staff in Chengdu created a Web site within 24-hours to help those who had lost loved ones in the quake find them.

We also received a request for help from the Red Cross Foundation of China whose Web site was overwhelmed with traffic and not performing as well as it needed to. Over one weekend a Microsoft team redesigned the performance of that site, upgrading it to Windows 2003 and SQL Server 2005, improving response time to less than half a second.

Microsoft, through Unlimited Potential, continues to focus on helping improve the educational opportunities available with the appropriate use of technology. I heard a quote the other day which said that “education should face the future,” and I saw that future in every one of the children at the school outside Beijing.

Finding new and innovative ways to use software to help give these children, their families and the community-at-large, that chance, is what motivates this company and its employees.

Coming from a rural village in Columbia myself, I personally understand how technology can help meet this need and enable potential. I am really happy that the tools we provided at that school will help them do just that.

For more news from my continuing travels through China, check back here or visit for more to-the-moment updates on the trip and the Unlimited Potential team's participation in the Gobi March.



Comments (1)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Today I was privileged to attend the opening of the first Microsoft Partners in Learning (PiL) schools

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