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Users of Microsoft Windows and Office can now install an Irish Gaelic version of the software.

The Gaelic Language Interface Pack (LIP) can be downloaded from Microsoft's site or www.gaeilge.ie, free of charge. The packs are supported by Microsoft and Foras na Gaeilge, an agency responsible for fostering the use of Gaelic among the population in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Microsoft and Foras na Gaeilge developed the interface, localising over 600,000 terms across both products. The interface also benefited from extensive consultation with Gaelic speakers and community groups, who helped with vocabulary selection and testing processes. The software was launched by Eamon O Cuiv, the Republic of Ireland's minister for community, rural and Gaeltacht affairs.

"Under the Official Languages Act we made a commitment to ensure better availability and higher standards of public services through Irish," Minister O Cuiv said in a statement. "This initiative will aid that endeavour immeasurably making it easier for our public servants to work through Irish."

The Windows XP pack is available from Wednesday, but only for users who have installed SP2. The LIP that translates Office 2003 into Irish Gaelic will be available from the beginning of the academic year.

Microsoft and Foras na Gaeilge support the product and users can get support by calling 01-4502113 or emailing microsoft@forasnagaeilge.ie.

The initiative is part of Microsoft's Local Language Programme, which aims to increase access to technology to all by enabling people to work through their native language.

The Irish Gaelic version is not a full localisation. Users install the local language version on top of an English-language version of Windows XP and Office and approximately 85 per cent of the programmes are translated.

Ireland is one of Microsoft's localisation hubs and its European Product Development Centre (EPDC) is located in Sandyford in Dublin, translating more than 100 Microsoft products into 27 languages. Microsoft employs 1,600 people in Ireland.

Microsoft launched an Irish Gaelic spell-checking function for Office XP in 2003. The product was developed by Irish software firm Carlow Answers.

© ENN

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