Israel, Microsoft Agree on Strategic Tech Partnership

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The Israeli government and U.S. software giant Microsoft have agreed in principle to a strategic collaboration on a number of subjects related to computer technologies.

Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer met Monday morning with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz in Jerusalem, and later with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss the agreement.  

The agreement will be anchored in a memorandum of understandings, which is expected to be signed within several days between Israel's Chief Information Officer Carmela Avner and Microsoft Israel CEO Danny Yamin.

The agreement will address subjects such as technological innovation, promoting open government policies, use of technological tools to reduce bureaucracy, dealing with large databases, information security and privacy protection, development of online government services, collaborative projects between the sides, projects for the community in Israel and promoting Israeli technologies and start-ups.

Steinitz said Monday that "Global companies should be encouraged to invest in Israeli technologies and set up development centers in the State of Israel." He added that both sides would benefit from the agreement.

Netanyahu called the agreement between Israel and the corporate giant "natural," adding that "the Israeli high-tech industry is among the world's leaders."

"Microsoft was wise enough to see its potential already several years ago, and enjoy the fruits of Israel's quality workforce," Netanyahu said.   

Balmer, who landed in Israel on Sunday for a two-day visit, said, "This is my fourth visit to Israel and I am always excited and inspired by the distinctive inventiveness of the public and the entrepreneurs in Israel – which is a central reason why Israel is such an important market for Microsoft."

"Technological innovation and incubators are the driving force behind Israel's dynamic economy. Microsoft is proud to operate in this environment that nurtures innovation and has created such a large number of successful tech companies. Microsoft continues to be committed to our investments in Israel and our role in helping people and businesses achieve their full potential."     

Also Monday, Microsoft launched its new line of Windows 8 smartphones in Israel. The company hopes its phones can make inroads into a cellular market currently dominated by Apple's iPhone and Samsung phones running Google's Android operating system.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at the launch event of Windows 8 operating system in New York, October 25, 2012.Credit: Reuters
Israel's PM Steinitz with Microsoft CEO Steven Balmer in Jerusalem, Nov. 5, 2012.Credit: Finance Ministry Spokesman