Microsoft Enables Millions More to Experience Personal Computing Through Local Language Program

REDMOND, Wash., March 16, 2004 — As part of its long-term commitment to collaborate with local governments to provide them with the tools and technologies needed to realize the societal and economic benefits of the growing IT industry, Microsoft Corp. today announced the Local Language Program. The Local Language Program is a global initiative that fosters the development and proliferation of regional language groups, enabling them to preserve and promote their language and culture while benefiting from continuing IT advancements. Through this collaboration with local governments to offer citizens the ability to customize leading, value-based Microsoft®
software applications with local language capabilities, people around the world will be able to work with PCs — some for the first time — in their native languages. Individuals will be able to build skills, open opportunities and realize overall IT progress.

Through the Local Language Program, local and regional government participants can localize Windows® XP Home and Professional and Office 2003 to one language interface through a Language Interface Pack (LIP). Language Interface Packs are developed by Microsoft in cooperation with local governments and communities to ensure that the local languages are defined, standardized and agreed on by users of the language, resulting in consistent local terminology across components. With LIPs, users can install one specific language version as a layer on top of an existing installation of Windows XP with Service Pack 1 and the Office Standard Edition 2003 applications, Word, Excel, Outlook® and PowerPoint®
. The Local Language Program provides opportunities to people of all cultures, regions, locales and languages by facilitating access and promoting communication and interaction.

In India, the technology behind the Local Language Program was implemented early on as part of Project Bhasha. As a result of collaboration with local governments, academia and the language community, Microsoft already has localized Windows XP and Office in Hindi and has plans to localize the applications in an additional nine languages this coming year. As part of today’s announcement of the Local Language Program, India furthers this momentum by announcing that four additional languages will be ready by the end of the year: Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Gujarati.

“The Local Language Program is the long-awaited vehicle to take the benefits of Information Communication and Technology to the common people in India,” said Professor N. Balakrishnan, chairman of the Research and Development Working Group for Technology Development for Indian Languages Programs at the Indian Ministry of Information Technology. “For a nation where more than 95 percent of the population is threatened by an information blackout, developments in Indian-language-based computing would give citizens a new lease on life. It would help remove the information asymmetry, positively affect everyone and propel the nation toward prosperity. Project Bhasha, as well as other efforts in India and elsewhere, would help make computers ‘language independent.'”

Before today’s announcement of the Local Language Program, Microsoft provided desktop language coverage for approximately 40 languages. Through the technology available in the Local Language Program and collaboration with local and regional governments, Microsoft plans to add an additional 40 languages in the near future. In Ethiopia, Microsoft will be working with the local government and universities to develop a Language Interface Pack for Amharic.

“We are excited about Microsoft’s Local Language Program, which will enable Ethiopians to use Windows and Office in Amharic. Amharic is spoken by most of the 60 million people in Ethiopia; it is the working language of the nation,” said Andreas Eshete, a professor and president of Addis Ababa University, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “The Local Language Program, we truly believe, will make IT solutions more accessible to the Ethiopian community. It also represents a breakthrough for Ethiopian linguistic and literary studies as well as, more generally, Ethiopian studies. We eagerly look forward to its introduction in our country.”

Microsoft has an ongoing commitment to local software development, and the Local Language Program is the next step to broadening Microsoft’s outreach and empowering customers. The Local Language Program fosters the important development, growth and proliferation of regional language groups, enabling them to promote their language and culture while benefiting from continuing IT advancements.

“State-of-the-art information technology is developing at a rapid rate in Ukraine,” said Andrey Nikolaevich Gurzhiy, first vice minister of Education and Science in Ukraine. “An essential initiative driving this momentum is the alliance between the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine and Microsoft to create a Ukrainian-language computer environment. We are well aware how significant it is for users to be able to work with an interface adapted to their native language — a factor that becomes even more important in the sphere of public education and science. We are extremely pleased to expand and improve the localization of Microsoft®
software together.”The Local Language Program joins Microsoft’s existing initiatives, the Government Security Program and the Partners in Learning program, as part of a significant effort to address the unique requirements of governments around the world.

“At Microsoft, we are committed to working with governments all over the world on programs and initiatives that address their specific challenges and meet the needs of their citizens,” said Maggie Wilderotter, senior vice president of World Wide Public Sector at Microsoft. “Empowering communities and individuals around the world to reach their full potential is a top priority for Microsoft. Through the Local Language Program, we hope to provide opportunities to people of all regions, locales and languages, and enable them to realize that potential.”

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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