Redmond is translating Windows 7 into 10 languages from the African Continent, this is to ensure that the computer revolution penetrates the Dark Continent, connects it to the rest of the world by encouraging the use of native languages unencumbered by the limitation of French or English and end software piracy.
Windows 7 is expected to be available in the languages such as Amharic, kiSwahili, isiXhosa, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, isiZulu, Afrikaans, Setswana and Sesotho sa Leboa, by the year 2011.
Mark Matunga, the Citizenship Manager of Microsoft Eastern and South Africa stated that this move was to encourage technical access for the African people what better way than to give it in their own language and in their own frame of reference to demolish the barricade.
In Africa the people who cannot read and write English or French are considered illiterate, also these only the languages the computers operate on therefore most people do not have an access to this technology even though they can read and write their local languages. Now the availability of this operating system will change the scenario.
Francis Hook, the Manager of IDC East Africa is positive that this move by Microsoft will lead to translation, editing and origination of a vast and rich content which the natives will share with the world via their blogs, news, websites and emails.
The only point of contention is the issue of software piracy on the Continent. There is no assurance that the users will stop using pirated copies of the software when the Windows 7 is introduces in the native languages, yet this is a hope for the users of the genuine software to gain Windows updates and facilities.
Matunga added that the issue of piracy is embedded in the culture and hardly has anything to do with the Microsoft or the issue of the new Language Interface; it’s an issue about respecting intellectual property rights.
The availability of these language interfaces will ensure a deeper reach into the African market but it will encourage piracy too, as the opportunists will exploit this product by producing copies of the same. This is not even illegal in some African countries as they do not recognize Intellectual Property rights or consider piracy of software a criminal offence.
The translations are no insurance against piracy for Microsoft but they will definitely give a voice to the African people who speak the native languages and express their issues and opinions at the world platform. The languages are difficult to use online at present as the software do not offer the alphabets, the accents and the editing tools this makes it difficult to use on line for most people.
Hook of the IDC added that the expression in local African languages will increase the content from that region for the world to access; this will support the continuance and importance of the African languages when the world is becoming a small place.
Kiswahili is the native language of Tanzania, Ethiopia speaks Amharic, which has unique software coding and keyboards; the world understanding these languages and vice versa will help to link these countries to the world, and localization will only help globalization, according to Hook.
Matunga of Microsoft firmly believes that the software will not only strengthen the company’s presence in Africa but also help in the local development, while preserving the African heritage bring the continent abreast of present times.
Hezron Mogambi, a linguistics lecturer teaching at the Nairobi University says that the use of local language is the key to drawing more people to use the product and the Internet than advertising. People are only interested in a product if it offered to them in their own cultural parameters and settings.
Creation of content from Africa will see a rise as there will be online tools like the Google Translate which will encourage more people to spend their time exploring this new mode of communicating with the world. Microsoft is working to launch the Windows 7 in most of the African languages like Kiswahili and Amharic by 2011.
Microsoft Windows 7 Will Speak 10 Languages from Africa
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