Cloud made in Ireland, says Microsoft, as Office 10 prepares to roll

3 Jun 2010

It will be one of Microsoft’s biggest global product releases yet. However, few people in Ireland are aware that the software giant’s European Development Centre in Dublin has been responsible for the mammoth task of globalising and localising the product for 300 million Office users worldwide in 90 languages.

And, as Microsoft becomes a more internet-centric organisation, global online support for 60pc of the 500 million Office users worldwide will be handled out of the Dublin operation.

Last year, Microsoft opened a US$1bn data centre in west Dublin that will handle all EMEA online services. Derek McCann, head of Microsoft’s European Centre, said that Ireland is becoming the home of the internet cloud for Microsoft.

“When you think of, where people are downloading content, clip art, web applications – it’s all in the cloud. We’ve shifted from being just a presence on a computer desktop to enabling people to bring their desktop everywhere with them. Ireland is not only hosting the cloud, it is making the cloud.”

Work of Dublin staff on Office 10

McCann explained that 180 people in Dublin were involved in engineering more than 90 language versions of Office 10, which has just been released for manufacture and will be available worldwide from June. Of these 90 languages, 19 languages have been included that would surprise people – Irish, Maori, Welsh, Basque and five African languages, including Afrikaans and IsiZula.

“We reckon that with the local language programme we’re enabling one billion people. To achieve this, the team in Dublin worked with universities, governments and language boards.”

In building and testing Office 10, McCann explained that the entire worldwide supply chain of translation, engineering, testing and quality assurance was managed out of Dublin. This involved testing in excess of 80 million words for both software and user assistance across all 90 languages, and involved a global supply chain of translation firms, QA vendors and government language boards across multiple time zones to develop spell-checkers, dictionaries, thesauri and grammar checkers.

Some 30 of the European Development Centre workers were involved in developing three main areas:

– Language screen tip – the ability to use Microsoft Office in two languages at the same time on products such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

– Setup – the experience every user has, the installation of Office, including supporting the new 64-bit versions.

– – everything from training videos and clip art images and enabling user-generated support, including the submission of Office training videos as Gaeilge.

McCann said the operation has evolved dramatically from when, in 1985, people were putting software discs in boxes.

“We’ve moved from manufacturing in the early days to core feature development today and this is strategically important for Microsoft. Dublin is a key component and it’s only going to get better as we move into the cloud,” he said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years