Language focus | 21.12.2009

Window of opportunity for Catalan speakers

At a press conference in Barcelona on 1 December 2009, Microsoft presented its sought-after Windows 7 Catalan version, along with a range of additional products, services and industry collaborations aimed at widening the net of accessibility for Catalan users. María Garaña, President of Microsoft Ibérica, said that its products and partnerships would ‘open up a wide range of possibilities for growth and creation of new jobs for local industries’ within the Catalan speaking community.

Not only can users download a free version of the system which translates the menus into Catalan, it is also the first time that some manufacturers (HP, Dell, Toshiba and Sony) are offering it as a pre-installed programme on computers which are already on sale for the Christmas period. Furthermore, government offices are supposedly planning to invest in the system as well. Microsoft has also struck a deal with TV3 – the Catalan TV channel – to distribute their new netbooks with Catalan as an inbuilt feature, rather than a bespoke tool for the corporate market.

It is believed that around 1.5 million people in the European IT sector will be using Windows 7 by the end of 2010 and in Spain, the Catalan market is responsible for 25% of total market sales of computers – with a projected menu-conversion rate to Catalan of 15%. There are more than 8 million Catalan speakers worldwide who form a strong market force and in the past they have successfully petitioned the social networking site Facebook to provide a Catalan version. Through its products and collaborations, Microsoft is certainly taking language matters seriously – leaving no doubt as to its fluency in more than just computer languages!

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