Windows makes Irish easier for civil servants

28 Jun 2005

The introduction of Irish language packs for Windows XP and Office 2003 will make it easier for public servants to work through Irish and will result in higher standards of public services, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon O’Cuiv said this afternoon.

Irish language packs for Windows XP and Office 2003 have been introduced following collaboration between Microsoft and Forás na Gaeilge and a wide number of community groups and native Irish language speakers involved in vocabulary selection and testing.

Both packs will be available to download from and at no charge for all users currently running Windows XP with Service Pack 2. The Windows XP pack is available from today while Office 2003, Standard Edition will be available from the beginning of the academic year.

Over the past year Microsoft and Foras na Gaeilge have undertaken the full localisation, development and translation of more than 600,000 terms across both products. Other partners involved in supporting the work were EGTeo, Dublin City University, eTeams and National University of Ireland Maynooth. The production of Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003 in Irish is part of the worldwide Microsoft Local Language Programme.

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon O’Cuiv TD said the initiative will make it easier for public servants to work through Irish and will raise standards in public services. “I must also commend the partners for their vision and commitment to a programme that will empower the educational sector, businesses and the IT community alike to communicate through our national language. This development coming so soon after the recognition of Irish as an official EU language is a very welcome development.”

Microsoft Ireland’s general manager Joe Macri said a group of employees at Microsoft’s Sandyford operations recognise the impact the availability of Irish products could have on communities around the country. “They have driven this project with both personal and professional passion to a very successful conclusion. I am very proud of the work that has been done and am also proud of the fact that the Irish language versions of these products are being launched in 2005 — the year that we are celebrating 20 years investing in Ireland,” Macri said.

The idea to produce Irish LIPs (language interface packs) originated in Microsoft’s European Product Development Centre in Sandyford where Irish employees drive the development of more than 100 Microsoft products into 27 languages as part of their daily work.

The employees initially volunteered their time and expertise to do the localisation work that would enable versions of the product to be available in Irish. Microsoft subsequently invested considerable employee time from a number of different operations, in Ireland and Seattle, on developing the LIP, testing and localisation to support this work over the past 12 months. Forás na Gaeilge gave employee resources and considerable time on the translation of the technical terms.

LIPs effectively enable users to install a local language version as a “skin” on top of an existing installation of Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003 Standard Edition including Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. The LIPs provide users with an experience that translates approximately 85pc of user elements, enhancing the Windows experience for users who do not work in one of the languages in which Windows is currently available.

Seosamh MacDonncha, chief executive, Foras na Gaeilge said: “The project for Foras na Gaeilge typifies the type of language pioneering work that we see as a core role for our organisation. Through collaboration with industry and academic partners our vision is to drive the demand for use of Irish in a modern context by Irish people living their daily lives.”

By John Kennedy