Building an operating system that works for emerging markets, Lessons from Nigeria that shaped Windows 10

Building an operating system that works for emerging markets, Lessons from Nigeria that shaped Windows 10

What is it like building an operating system for the world? Microsoft Windows Insider chief, Dona Sarkar talks about how diversity helps in the development of the Windows operating system. Sharing how the development team builds an operating system that works for emerging markets like Africa thriving on diversity.

Dona was talking to Mark Smith (nz365guy), about Building a Tech Community: Windows Insider Program on his podacst.

Knowing how people use tech in the world is how we grow and build better products.

Dona Sarkar

Lessons from Nigeria that shaped Windows 10 for emerging markets

Dona talks passionately about how she appreciates diversity in a corporate team. “I appreciate diversity of experience and diversity of background really helps. What people who are diverse bring to the table is open mindedness.”

As someone who helps in building a global product, she says she will have only a specific point of view sitting in Redmond. “I think we need a global thinking. How do people use tech all around the world. What more should we build and invest in.”

Knowing how people use tech in the world is how we[Microsoft] grow and build better products, Dona says.

About three years ago we realized we know very little about how to build a windows that works well in emerging markets. Especially for places where electricity and good wifi is not a given.

So we choose Lagos, Nigeria because there’s are a hundred and eighty million people there. They love technology, they use it all the time but the infrastructure is not quite as reliable as it might be in Redmond.

When we were there i was trying to install insider builds, have skype calls and podcast and it was challenging. We had rolling blackouts everyday, wifi was extremely slow and spotty. The expense of having wireless connectivity is way higher.

We realized having the ability to have longer battery life is extremely important. Having devices that work on cellular like our Windows on ARM PCs is extremely important compared to always relying on wifi. The ability to have a windows download size that’s not 3GB but maybe 2GB is extremely important.

A 2G network on Microsoft campus

We had these realizations only after spending time in Nigeria – with Nigerian Fellows of the Insiders4Good Program – says Dona Sarkar. The “experiences in Nigeria had a wider impact on the company’s development practices. We’re fundamentally changing the way we develop Windows.” Dona says they built a 2G network on Redmond campus to simulate the conditions under which users in ‘occasionally connected’ markets have to use their devices.

Dona and the Windows development team are making Windows better with the help of a diverse Insider community. A community of people across the world who help test pre-relase Windows builds and provide feedback.

Click to visit podcast page and listen to the full conversation with Mark.

Caleb Ndaka, Kenyan Windows Insider, is teaching students and teachers computer basics and how to code in rural Kenya

Caleb Ndaka, Kenyan Windows Insider, is teaching students and teachers computer basics and how to code in rural Kenya

Windows #Insiders4Good East Africa Fellow Caleb Ndaka is changing his world.

Caleb Ndaka

“You’ll see him sometimes, walking village to village in rural Kenya, 5 laptops strapped to his back.” This how Caleb Ndaka conceived Kids Comp Camp. An organization serving remote communities with accessible computer training to empower them to discover new opportunities in technology.

You’ll see him sometimes, walking village to village in rural Kenya, 5 laptops strapped to his back. Years ago, when he was in college in Nairobi, Kenya, Caleb Ndaka and his friends decided they wanted to help those who were less fortunate. They went to a school in a village with no access to computers and spent a few days training students on computer basics. The students were awestruck by these lessons and able to quickly pick up the skills. Caleb was surprised to see such fast progress and realized he could have a real impact on his country with this work. That was the day Caleb’s business Kids Comp Camp was born.”

East Africa Windows Insiders4Good Fellow

Caleb Ndaka
from Left Dona Sarkar, Caleb, Constance, Gomolemo, Michael at Microsoft Build 2019

In 2017 Microsoft asked East Africans with brilliant ideas creating solutions to critical social and economic challenges, to apply for a fellowship program. The Insiders4Good Fellowship. It had been tried in Nigeria and Microsoft was scaling the program up to East African countries. A six-month program that will up open opportunities to the selected entrepreneurs.

Caleb’s Kids Comp Camp was one of 20 ideas selected from entries received from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. As a fellow Caleb received training to develop his business and technology concept, hardware, software, tailored mentorship and support from Microsoft.

So far, Kids Comp Camp has reached over nine thousand students with 90% being first time users of a computer. It has also evolved to include training small rural businesses on how to leverage technology to grow.

Microsoft Build 2019

Caleb Ndaka
Caleb at Microsoft Build 2019

Caleb Ndaka joined other Windows Insiders at Microsoft Build this year. Where he made a presentation about the journey and impact of Kids Comp Camp during the Windows Insiders session. These Insiders, Microsoft says are supporting their local communities and bringing us feedback to build products and services for everyone. Click to read about his journey and experience at Microsoft Build 2019.

Microsoft outdoors 20 Social Businesses in #Insiders4Good East African Fellowship Program

Microsoft outdoors 20 Social Businesses in #Insiders4Good East African Fellowship Program

The East Africa Fellowship of Microsoft’s 2nd cohort of the Insiders4Good program is under way. 20 ideas were selected from as many entrants from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

east africa fellowship aMicrosoft announced the Insiders4Good East Africa fellowship earlier this year during NexTech Africa summit in Nairobi. It came off the success of the first fellowship held in Nigeria.

The past weeks, the fellows have been involved in a boot camp led by Microsoft’s Insider team. The boot camp is to familiarize and prepare them for the six months fellowship program. Meet the East Africa fellows and learn about their ideas here. Below is a video shared by about the fellows and their ideas.

During the fellowship, fellows will be taken through how to build a business out of their ideas. There’ll be mentorship sessions, and fellows will receive technical, hardware and software supports.
Andy Weir spent some time with the fellows during the boot camp and shared a post on it. 

I learnt from Andy’s interview with Jeremiah Marbel, Windows Insider Director that these fellowships will soon be translated as a model for Insiders worldwide. I’ve seen from various interactions, people asking when the Insider4Good program will get to their countries. This seems best as Microsoft might not be able to do the fellowship in each country.

Microsoft is now exploring ways to ‘package’ the Fellowship as a set of resources for Windows Insiders around the world. These will include videos, blogs, and other guides to enable people to ‘help themselves’ in working on their personal and professional projects, and Microsoft intends to expand and refine those resources based on feedback from its Insider community. – Andy – Neowin

What do you think about the Fellowship program and Microsoft’s plan to roll the model worldwide?


#Insiders4Good East Africa Fellowship Announced

#Insiders4Good East Africa Fellowship Announced

Microsoft has announced the second #Insiders4Good fellowship program in Africa.  The fellowship is now opened to citizens of East Africa.

east africa

Bambo Sofola, Director of Engineering at Microsoft announced the fellowship on stage during the keynote session of  NexTech Africa. This is an expansion of the Insiders4Good initiative of the Windows Insiders program launched in Lagos last year. The fellowship will be in partnership with Growth Africa.

The fellowship program is opened today to citizens of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda with innovative and creative ideas. At the end of March 25 fellows will be selected for the program. The program will see Microsoft supporting them with technical mentorship, business guidance, software and open them up to a global network.

We are looking for entrepreneurs like you problem-solvers who think deeply about the issues confronting their communities, visionaries who create solutions that could address these issues, and leaders that grow opportunities for their solutions to thrive in the market. Your work improves the lives of your fellow East Africans and has the potential to impact the world.

So if you believe that’s you head out to the page and apply. Click to apply for the #Insiders4Good Fellowship Program.

For the full terms and conditions of the program kindly visit here.

Deadline for submission of applications is 31st March 2017.

Meet the Nigeria Windows Insiders Fellows PT.1

Meet the Nigeria Windows Insiders Fellows PT.1


The Microsoft Windows Insider Nigeria Fellowship has 25 fellows who will shortly complete their entrepreneurial mentorship. We want to introduce you to the fellows and what they are working on over a five part series.

nigeria Insiders fellows

The Windows #InsiderForGood Insider Nigeria Fellowship selection process took place in September last year with over 5000 entrants. The selected 25 fellows of the program were brought together, mentored and provided with the necessary help to achieve their on paper dream. The six months training ends in February 2017 and they’ll be expected to showcase a feasible product.

Read all about the Windows Insiders4Good program .


nigeria insiders fellows

Bamwase is a platform that connects consumers to small and medium scale business and vice-versa. It provides local artisans, laborers and businesses with an online presence in their communities across Nigeria.
Bamwase wants to help increase their sales better than word of mouth by helping them expand into new markets and access new opportunities.
Click and read the full bio on Banwase and  founder Idowu Bamido     



nigeria insiders fellows

eTrash2Cash is a platform that leverages on ICT to provide positive environmental and social impacts. The waste management company will provide strong and innovative waste collection and recycling schemes.

Click and read the full bio of eTrash2Cash and it’s founder.

Virtual Farm

nigeria insiders fellows

The Virtual Farm platform is an online digital farm that uses optimized online system for users to buy seed, plant, nurture and ultimately harvest crops online. It also use hydroponics to grow within the city and have them delivered to your door step. The Virtual Farm wants to offer cheaper and more convenient fresh produce than the conventional market.

Check out man behind Virtual Farms and what more they offer


nigeria insiders fellows

CIMHostel is an online platform that will like to help students easily find hostel accommodations. The platform will take away situations like hefty agent fees, spending time and being stressed out from moving around the neighbourhood looking for a preferable hostel.

Read more about the CIMHostel

Basmalah Enterprisesnigeria insiders fellows

Basmalah Enterprises is a mobile solar innovation that helps farmers with irrigation using a viable solar alternative to petrol-consuming generator.

Get to know more about this solar alternative that’ll save higher costs of farming.