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Software Star

When Microsoft is accused of being a giant corporation, all bank balance and no heart, one of the first names the software giant trots out in response is that of Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president for Microsoft Office Live.

The software whiz, who joined the Seattle-based head office in 1990, fresh out of university, heads up the Office Live initiative that, in his words, 'makes complex technology affordable and easy to use for small businesses, empowering them to reach their business goals.'

For Jha, the project is in the nature of natural progression. Armed with a master's in computer science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Jha started off as a software designer, developing five fresh products for the Microsoft Works division. That propelled him into the slot of director of development, where he worked on creating multimedia
in his words
'I am passionate about providing small businesses with affordable tools to build, manage and grow their business.'
Photo: Microsoft
technologies and overseeing development of various internet offerings in the Microsoft suite. Moving up another notch, Jha as general manager of Microsoft Office InfoPath oversaw the 2003 launch of the project, as also planning for and early execution of Office InfoPath 2007.

While his vision remained large, his heart lay with the small businesses, with small people working out of their homes and tiny rentals. Recognizing them as the real bricks and mortar of American enterprise, Jha set out to create something that would facilitate their functioning -- and hit upon OfficeLive, a software suite that permits small entrepreneurs to find cost-effective solutions to their business-software needs.

His feel for this neglected segment was showcased during the Microsoft Office Live launch in 2006, when he spoke of how most small businesses lacked information technology expertise. Office Live, he said, had been developed with a view to level the playing field for companies with 10 employees or less -- the backbone, as he saw it, of America's enterprise.

He had, with OfficeLive, seemingly gone contrary to Microsoft's big is beautiful ethos, but the best test of efficacy is numbers, and by this yardstick, Jha had unerringly pulsed the market. By February 2006, OfficeLive boasted a user base of over 160,000 small businesses -- and another chapter in Rajesh Jha's growing legend had been written.