It has been fashionable to paint Microsoft as laggards in the race for the world’s mobile users. However, two important developments this month could result in Windows being the dominant technology ecosystem in the developing and emerging markets.

The most significant was Microsoft’s launch of a $20 Nokia phone targeted squarely at aspirant consumers in the developing world. The new product has an affordable price tag and features ideally suited to places with unreliable power and limited connectivity such as a month-battery life and a flashlight. Read more

This week Indian-born Satya Nadella (pictured) became the third chief executive in the history of the world’s largest software maker, Microsoft.It’s a major win for Nadella. It could be a win for Microsoft.

But apparently, it’s also a win for India.

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Nokia, the Finnish telecoms group, asked the Delhi High Court on Thursday to release factory assets frozen by tax authorities this year, as it prepares to hand its mobile devices unit to Microsoft.

Back in September Microsoft announced plans to buy the loss-making business from cash-strapped Nokia for €5.4bn. But in India, the deal faces a small complication: a $321m tax dispute in which Nokia’s local assets were frozen. Bank accounts have subsequently been released but fixed assets – including a factory in Chennai – remain stuck in limbo. Read more

Not long ago, the future for Nokia looked merely bleak. In developed markets, Apple and others were outselling the Finnish company with advanced smartphones, leaving Nokia to play catch-up. In emerging markets, Nokia clung on to its market by selling so-called feature phones – simpler, slimmed down smartphones.

Then things got bleaker. With the advent of cheaper handsets running Android, customers in emerging markets began to buy advanced smartphones, too – and not Nokia ones. So, can Microsoft’s €5.4bn purchase of Nokia’s phone business pay off – and how important are emerging markets? Read more

India, with its expanding population and growing economy, is a tempting market for foreign companies. Stories of multinationals entering Asia’s third largest economy are common. And yet the 25 biggest locally-listed affiliates of multinationals in India contributed just 2 per cent to their parent companies’ global revenues and profits in 2011, according to McKinsey.

Ravi Ventakesan, who has worked as chairman of Microsoft India and of Cummins India, the engine producer, told beyondbrics it is a half-hearted approach to entering the market that really inhibits success here. In his new book, “Conquering the Chaos”, Venkatesan dishes out advice on succeeding in this tricky country. Read more

Africa has the lowest internet penetration rate globally, but some of the world’s tech giants think they may have touched a magic formula for the rollout of broadband on the continent.

The ‘white spaces’ technology being deployed by Microsoft could bring “almost 80 per cent of Kenya’s population online over the next three years,” according to Fernando de Sousa, who heads up the company’s 4Afrika initiative.

Bearing in mind that Kenya’s population has grown to just over 40m, that’s a fairly substantial number. Read more

For technology companies, Africa looks a lot like the final frontier. Mobile operators, search providers and phone manufacturers have all been racing to secure their share of the continent’s famously fast growing market as new undersea data cables and soaring mobile phone subscriptions reshape the continent’s connectivity.

Microsoft might have been operating on the continent for two decades, but it is no different. The world’s largest software maker is launching a comprehensive new strategy to expand internet access in Africa, positioning it to grow its business on the continent. Read more

Squeeze your way into the over-crowded Ambassador mall in central Jakarta and you will find countless shops openly selling cheap, pirated software in clear violation of Indonesia’s intellectual property laws. You can even get hundreds of apps downloaded onto your iPad or smartphone for just a few dollars.

But, although 86 per cent of Indonesian software is pirated, attitudes are starting to change, making the country Microsoft’s fastest growing market in Asia, according to Alvaro Celis, the US company’s vice president for the region. Read more

When Microsoft’s top China executive talks about his host country, he is very diplomatic. “Germany has problems, China has opportunities,” Ralph Haupter, who took over as chief executive of Microsoft Greater China earlier this year after running the software company’s marketing in Germany, told reporters on Thursday.

But ‘opportunity’ is something a euphemism. In a country where there is a vibrant trade in pirated Microsoft software, it’s no easy task for Microsoft to make money. Read more

If last week’s chief executives travel plans were anything to go by, mobile phone makers are getting serious about China.

So which models are selling in China and which way is the market going? Chart of the week takes a look. Read more

While other countries are battling the highest evolutionary form of computer virus, Vietnam is still learning to handle simpler enemies such as software piracy.

Despite regular clampdowns, software piracy remains rampant and now the authorities are fighting back with true Communist guile, encouraging miscreants to “self-criticise” and issue public apologies.  Read more

It may be a bit of a mouthful but “equity-linked broad based black economic empowerment” looks like a step in the right direction for South Africa. And it could be a good thing for investors too.

A new deal announced by Microsoft highlights the potential for more foreign investment in South Africa. Read more