16 November 2012

Kenyan Corporates Rush for a Piece of Windows 8


Even before its launch in the local market, Windows 8 has already captured the attention of major companies, developers and individuals.

The long awaited Operating System from Microsoft was set to be officially launched in Nairobi last night. But local developers have already taken to develop Applications as demanded in this market.

This is going by one of Windows 8 standout feature that offers local App developers an opportunity to commercialise their products using the Windows Store - available on more than 1,000 Windows 8 certified PCs and tablets.

Kevin Connolly, Windows Business Group Manager at Microsoft in West, East and Central Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, said Windows is going to be a game changer in the market because it allows the consumer to create, work or play with a personalised experience that fits their unique style and needs.

"With the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft is unveiling a re-imagined Windows to the world," Connolly said. Some of those who have taken up Windows 8 include Kenya Commercial Bank.

Its Mobi Bank is a Windows 8 application with functionalities such as sending money directly from a KCB account directly to any mobile number, its accessible anywhere in the world via the internet, direct transfer from KCB account to M-pesa, Airtel Money or Yu-Cash among other services.

Co-operative Bank is also utilising the platform. "This is an app designed to meet the banking needs of any Co-operative Bank customer anywhere, anytime," said Dan Mugo, Managing Director of Software Universe, a local company mandated to develop Co-operative Bank's mobile banking platform.

Safaricom Mobile Broadband App is also a Windows 8 App that helps users manage their mobile world, access their online account, get notifications and other special offers and support.

Virtual City has several Apps in Windows 8 already. These include Hewani Retail, a sub-Sahara's first app that enables consumers to access goods and services from various trading merchants on their phone, pay for them, have them delivered and have receipts delivered via SMS and/or email.

It also has Hewani Ticketing allowing ticketing merchants such as in concerts, sporting events, exhibitions, movie halls, conferences etc to sell tickets and enable consumers to pay for them using local payment instruments and finally manage them. Others are Hewani Utilities and Hewani Transport .

Another brilliant Windows 8 app is Executive Insight, which is a dashboard that allows a business owner, such as an SME in the distributorship business, to collect and transmit data using mobile devices.

The data is stored in a centrally located database and the Windows 8 app interprets the information into business intelligence data at the click of a button.

"Our goal was to revolutionise sales force automation and business intelligence by allowing seamless collection and reporting of data for better decision-making in an organisation. Our system uses the Automated Sales Inventory Management system to achieve this," says Joseph Karanja from Olivine Technology.

Two Windows 8 apps are using Open Data and Crowd-sourcing platforms. The Kenya County Score Card app that provides Kenya-centric data to tell stories in a new way.

It uses data from the Kenya Open Data Initiative and then displays easily interpretable data visualisation tools. The Ushahidi app on the other hand uses the Ushahidi crowd-sourcing platform to gather information from populations in different locations for crisis mapping.

Windows 8 is currently available in three versions - Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise - which offers business customers new possibilities in mobile productivity with features like 'Windows To Go', DirectAccess, and BranchCache, as well as enhanced end-to-end security with features including BitLocker and AppLocker.

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