OpenOffice Swahili Launches While Microsoft Fiddles

While Microsoft focuses on its “strategic markets” the rest of the world is making do with open source software. And they’re doing quite well, thank you very much.

There is now an OpenOffice software package available in Swahili. According to the release:

    Swahili is the most spoken of the Bantu languages and conservative estimates indicate that is the first language spoken by more than 70 million people, chiefly in Kenya, Tanzania, Congo (Kinshasa), and Uganda.

I do not expect a Microsoft Office Swahili anytime soon.

Microsoft has the funds to localize its office suite into every human language and still have a few billion in change. But it chooses to focus only on those markets where it can make a big profit. It has no interest in “break even” markets.

Microsoft offers 47 languages the last I checked, a number that has increased only marginally over the past few years. Meanwhile, OpenOffice offers more than 30 localized versions with another 30 or so in the works.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Every culture that Microsoft ignores today is a culture that it will lose tomorrow.

PS: Here’s an earlier related Microsoft rant.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.