05 FEBRUARY 2003

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Malta partners with Microsoft

- Maltese to be standard language in future XP releases

Citing the rapid development of Malta’s information society, Malta’s pending EU Justice Minister Austin Gatt and Bill Gatesmembership bid and a common long-term ICT vision shared by Microsoft and the Maltese government, Microsoft and the Maltese government have signed a long-term agreement intended to transform Malta into an ICT jewel in the Mediterranean.
Meeting in Paris last week, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Justice Minister Austin Gatt – also responsible for the information society – discussed how Microsoft and the government are to co-operate to rapidly transform Malta into an information and communication technology hub for the Mediterranean.
The agreement will see a Lm20 million Microsoft investment in Malta and its students over a three-year time frame.
Interestingly, as part of the agreement the Maltese language will be introduced as a standard language in future releases of Windows XP – the most used operating system in the world.
Discussions were focused mainly on the rapid expansion of Malta as a regional centre of excellence for software development. The move is expected to attract a number of independent software vendors to set up their operations in Malta and create more opportunities for Maltese youths.
Through the agreement, Microsoft will invest heavily in Malta and in Maltese students and employees with a view of being a key player in the further development of the country’s information society and economy.
Indeed, the framework agreement is expected to serve as a launching pad for Malta’s software development industry, with Microsoft uncharacteristically opening up its closely guarded source code of its latest operating systems and a large amount of intellectual property to local and foreign software development companies, along with access to the multinational’s global marketing and technical support networks.
The Maltese government will be one of the first in Europe to enrol in the Government Security Programme, enabling the government to step up the efficiency and security of its internal and e-Government systems.
Microsoft will also be subsidising over 98 per cent of the cost of Microsoft Office XP Professional and Visual Basic Studio software, plus all pertinent upgrades over the next three years. The agreement also covers the installation of the latest version of Microsoft Encarta educational package in each classroom in primary schools, computer laboratory in secondary schools, public libraries and Internet centres at Local Councils.
A Microsoft IT Academy will also be set up in Malta, offering over 25 high-end training specialisations and certifications to Maltese students and employees, while the disabled will be given more widespread access to ICTs through a programme of co-operation in.
Microsoft will also provide direct technical and financial assistance for the development of ICT-Governance within the public administration.
An unprecedented joint effort to establish Malta as a best practice location for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights was also agreed upon, further enhancing Malta’s image and reputation as a software development hub. The protection of IPR is a critical success factor in the positive development of any software development industry. It is mutually agreed that at this specific point in time, in which the global ICT industry is facing budgeting constraints and serious security threats, Malta could be promoted as a country that strongly respects and actively protects intellectual property rights. Microsoft will be providing software, equipment, training and continuous technical support to the key Maltese agencies involved in this effort.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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