Cambodia has taken part in the global launch of new Microsoft computer software for the first time, with officials hailing the event as a significant step forward for the Kingdom’s IT sector.
In a launch ceremony held at the InterContinental Hotel on July 9, US-based Microsoft Corporation launched a package of new software including Windows Server 2008, the latest of its Windows platforms, which aims to provide businesses with faster and more secure computer networking capabilities.
The launch came following the establishment of a Microsoft Marketing Development Program (MPD) office in Phnom Penh in March, which Microsoft claims has identified clear potential for growth in Cambodia, despite near-endemic levels of software piracy.
“I think that the Cambodian market is ready for [our] arrival here,” said Suon Sroeurn, assistant office manager at Microsoft, adding that the ubiquity of Microsoft products in Cambodia – pirated or not – gives strong hopes of future sales.
Sreourn said that even though Cambodia’s new Copyright Law has not yet come into effect, the company hopes to expand on the back of the personalized IT support that it will offer its paying customers.
“Software products develop very quickly, and users need to update their technology regularly to keep pace with their competitors,” he said.
“If they use illegal products they will lag behind the competition.”
Microsoft has estimated that as many as 98 percent of its products in Cambodia are bootlegs.
Pily Wong, general manager of Microsoft MPD Cambodia, said the new products are reliable, powerful and secure, able to accomplish complex tasks for the world’s largest businesses and institutions.
“Cambodia is a developing country with big potential,” Wong told the Post in May, adding that a market for such products will eventually emerge in the Kingdom.
“Microsoft has had huge successes in Vietnam, and the next logical step was to move to Cambodia. In Vietnam, the office started with five people [in 1996] and now has around 160.”
While some analysts say that many Cambodians will be willing to pay top dollar for Microsoft programs – a licenses version of Window Server costs around $800 – Be Chantra, public relations officer for Open Institute, a local NGO dedicated to producing open-source programs in the Khmer language, conceded that the new Windows products might be important for large companies.
“I think that for a large company like ACLEDA Bank, it may be necessary to use Windows servers… to keep records and control data use,” he said.
Sreourn of Microsoft acknowledged that the company is targeting larger firms that will want the security and support of running on genuine Microsoft servers, and that smaller operations were not likely to purchase genuine software licenses.
“If you are handling thousands of calls, like [telecommunications firm] Mobitel, you need to keep tight control of your databases and records,” he said.
“[But] if you’re a small business, you might only need to buy a $2 copy of Microsoft programs from the Russian Market.” (Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong)