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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 13, 2010 at 2:25 PM

Microsoft signs Indian vendor contract, conspiracy afoot?

Tech journos from California to New York are plunging into the breaking story of Microsoft’s new help-desk vendor signing a three year contract.

Microsoft and other big companies have used outside companies to provide their employees help-desk services for years.

But if Microsoft’s $175,000-a -year engineers know so much about Windows, shouldn’t they be able to stop what they’re doing and help their less technically inclined co-workers configure printers and recover lost passwords?

Seriously, what kind of place are they running over there?

What’s really sinister about Microsoft’s new contract, though, is that it involves an Indian company known for outsourcing.

Infosys received the contract and called it out with a press release this morning. “The Microsoft of India” has already been providing tech services for Microsoft in some areas. Now it has signed a master agreement to take over all sorts of contracts that had been assigned to various vendors. Infosys will do work that’s now being farmed out to HP, Siemens, Fujitsu, Accenture, Satyam, Wipro, TCS, HCL, Unisys and Infosys.

It gets worse, my friends. Infosys is not only doing work for Microsoft in India and Bellevue, it’s also subcontracting Microsoft’s help-desk work to Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys, which also has a big office in Bellevue.

With outsourcers outsourcing this work, I hope the folks in Redmond can understand the accents. (Unisys is based near Philadelphia, where you can hardly tell what people are saying sometimes …)

Previously much of Microsoft’s help-desk services were outsourced to another foreign outfit — Siemens, a conglomerate based in Germany, won the contract in 2005 to little fanfare.

This checkered story of the globalization of IT services also involves Silicon Valley. Before it used Siemens and Infosys, Microsoft outsourced much of its help-desk services to Hewlett-Packard, which offloads tech support to workers in India and elsewhere. HP’s contract was worth tens of millions when it was signed in 2002, according to tragically overlooked CNET article at the time. Prior to that HP contract, Microsoft used Siemens for much of its help-desk services.

Stay tuned: Next up is an in-depth look at Microsoft’s janitorial and mailroom vendor contracts.

You’d think a company that put a “recycle bin” on millions of desktops would be able to handle this sort of thing internally, but no.

Comments | Topics: HP, India, Infosys

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