It also includes a partnership with Chinese phone manufacturer Huawei to introduce a Windows Phone, called Huawei 4Afrika, with features and apps specifically designed for the Africa market.
Getting a foothold in the mobile market is especially important in Africa, where, for many, a PC is too expensive and a feature phone or a smartphone is the first and possibly only computing device for many. Indeed, mobile payments -- using a phone to make payments or do banking -- are common in Africa.
Microsoft has been in Africa since 1992 and now has about 750 employees and 11,000 channel partners there. The company's investment has grown steadily, with a particular focus in the education sector, as well as financial services and oil and gas businesses, said Fernando de Sousa, general manager of Microsoft Africa Initiatives.
But now the company realizes "we need to accelerate adoption of technology, accelerate coverage across the population of Africa," de Sousa said. "Traditionally, while we do well perhaps in urban areas, and in certain countries more than others, our ability to cover the continent has not been as broad as we would have liked or what we think the continent deserves."
Other tech companies have come to the same realization.
Intel launched its first Intel-based smartphone in Africa -- the Yolo -- earlier this year. It's also working to expand the software-development community by investing in mobile apps development and university training.
Google is improving Internet access, including offering technical assistance to Internet providers; granting money to organization working to expand engineering expertise to universities; and offering a fixed amount of free Internet bandwidth for up to three years to certain universities.
"As more Africans get online, we're continuing our work to create an accessible and relevant Internet," said Julie Taylor, a spokeswoman for Google Sub-Saharan Africa.
Eighteen months ago, HP announced it was opening new offices in 10 African countries, adding to the seven it already had, and investing in collaborations with governments, universities and communities to help develop the workforce and spur innovation.
IBM, which has been in Africa since the 1930s, describes it as the world's fastest-growing region in terms of growing GDP, foreign investment, middle class, mobile usage and bank accounts.
In 2009, the company was in four African nations; now it's in more than 20. It opened its 12th research center in the world in Nairobi, Kenya. Researchers there will be focusing on challenges and priorities facing African countries.
"We found we really needed to take our presence in Africa to the next level," said Takreem El Tohamy, IBM's general manager for Middle East Africa.
Indeed, in the 15 years Jyoti Lalchandani has been tracking the Africa market for research firm IDC, the past 12 to 18 months have been among the most hectic and newsworthy in terms of the tech industry, he said.
Obviously, a lot of it is driven by business potential.
"IT (information technology) spending is growing 12 to 15 percent every year across the continent," said Lalchandani, vice president and regional managing director at IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa.
Overall, IT spending across Africa will increase from $30 billion last year to $40 billion in 2016, he said. If telecom is also included, IDC says the spending will increase from $103 billion to close to $130 billion by 2016.
"I think, moving forward, we're going to hear a lot more about Microsoft's focus on Africa," Lalchandani said. "They realize this offers an amazing opportunity for them to grow their business."
BY THE NUMBERS:
--20: Number of African countries Microsoft is in.
--750: Number of Microsoft employees in Africa.
--$75 million: The additional amount Microsoft plans to spend in Africa in the next three years.
--$40 billion: Estimated amount to be spent on IT in Africa in 2016, up from $30 billion last year.
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