Vancouver Ethiopian Blog

Ethiopian life in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Microsoft to Release Windows 7 in Amharic, Ethiopian National Language, and Nine Other African Languages

Ethiopia, the second most populous nation in Africa (after Nigeria) has a population of 80 million this year (2009). There are 84 languages (these are totally different languages) and more than 200 dialects in Ethiopia. However, Amharic remains Ethiopia’s national language. It is estimated that 50% of the population speak Amharic (as first language and second language speakers).

Although Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in the world, its languages did not develop fully to express scientific words and phrases. Many attempts to translate text books into Amharic failed miserably.

So, English remains the primary business language of Ethiopia; and all subjects are taught in English from grade 7 and above, including colleges and universities.

Until recently, Geez fonts were not available in Microsoft Office packages. We had to buy and download the fonts from Ethiopian programmers’ websites. The idea of buying Geez fonts has made me very upset over the years. Mind you … when all the rich nations were getting free fonts, but poor Ethiopians, other Africans and Asians were subjected to really expensive charges just to get fonts.

However, Microsoft has added the Geez fonts in its MS 2007 offerings and it is now easier to type in Amharic. And now, Microsoft has promised to make it even easier to all more than 200 million Africans. It has announced the availability of operating systems in Amharic and nine other African languages in Windows 7 in 2011 …

Here is what Microsoft said regarding the launch:

Microsoft will release the Windows 7 operating system in the official Ethiopian language of Amharic, and nine other African languages in 2011 out of which five are South African official languages. The company will make available freely downloadable language interface packs for people who prefer to access programs such as Microsoft Office 2007, Windows Vista and XP in their home languages.

Vis Naidoo, of Microsoft SA, said studies showed that people learnt better in their mother tongues. Providing access to computer technology in local languages would open new worlds for education and economic participation to millions, he added.

The language packs would be available in Afrikaans, Sotho, Xhosa, Zulu, Tswana, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Swahili, and Amharic

Microsoft translation teams have started translating Windows 7 and the upcoming Office 2010 productivity suite into these languages.

I can’t wait for the official release of the Amharic Operating System.

I did a quick search about these 10 languages and found out that Microsoft is opening its technology for a total of 204 million people in Africa:

[click on the links below to learn more about the languages]

  • Afrikaans (6.5 million speakers in South Africa)
  • Sotho (2 million speakers in South Africa)
  • Xhosa (8 million speakers in South Africa)
  • Zulu (10 million speakers in South Africa)
  • Tswana (4 million speakers in mainly Botswana; also in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa)
  • Hausa (39 million speakers in Chad)
  • Igbo (18 million speakers in Nigeria)
  • Yoruba ( 25 million speakers in Nigeria)
  • Swahili (50 million speakers in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Congo DR, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia)
  • Amharic (42 million speakers in Ethiopia – considering second language speakers and Eritreans).

That is great news!!! But, now the question is how many of these 204 million people will ever have access to computers and the Internet? I hope things will change for the better and most of these people will be able to use the Internet in their native language.

Thumbs up for Microsoft for finally doing the right thing!

My next blog entry will be on Thursday January 07, 2010.

Mullkam Samint!

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December 31, 2009 - Posted by | Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian History, Ethiopian Languages, Ethiopian Media, Ethiopian Professors, Ethiopian Socials, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Comments »

  1. […] the original post: Microsoft to Release Windows 7 in Amharic, Ethiopian National … Share and […]

    Pingback by Microsoft to Release Windows 7 in Amharic, Ethiopian National … | Drakz News Station | December 31, 2009 | Reply

  2. […] the original: Microsoft to Release Windows 7 in Amharic, Ethiopian National … Share and […]

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  3. […] the original here: Microsoft to Release Windows 7 in Amharic, Ethiopian National … Share and […]

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  5. […] December 31: Microsoft to Release Windows 7 in Amharic, Ethiopian National Language, and Nine Other African Langu… […]

    Pingback by Ethiopian Vancouver Blog: Looking at My 2009 Posts « Vancouver Ethiopian Blog | January 6, 2010 | Reply

  6. I am really excited to hear about an operating system in Amharic. It is the right time that my nation get and use the new technology easily. I don’t have enough words to express my appreciation to MICROSOFT.

    I have a question: How can I get the Amharic (Ethiopia) windows operating system software?

    Comment by Tamiru | February 9, 2010 | Reply

  7. […] Installing and Using Amharic Software in Windows 7 Microsoft recently released Windows 7, which included Amharic and many other African languages. I did cover that story in my post, entitled, “Microsoft to Release Windows 7 in Amharic, Ethiopian National Language, and Nine Other African Languages“, which you can read by clicking here. […]

    Pingback by Installing and Using Amharic Software in Windows 7 « Vancouver Ethiopian Blog | March 18, 2010 | Reply

  8. My Amharic font cant write easily
    when i press key board coming small window
    to choose the font how can i write easily

    Comment by ytayew | December 2, 2010 | Reply

  9. Hey,the data of Amharic speakers you shown above is not accurate.
    Among these African languages,Hausa had more native speaker than all African languages beside Arabic,and ranked first in Africa & 41 in the world (in 2006) & total speaker = 39 millions ,while Amharic ranked third in Africa & 52nd in the world (in 2006) & total speaker = 32 millions.

    And when it come to the most spoken African language including second speakers in 2011,Swahili ranked first (80 millions ),followed by Hausa (50 millions),Oromo (35 millions),Amharic (32 millions),Yoruba (30 millions).Arabic is not including because its native speakers are more Asian ( Mid Easterners) than Africans.

    Don’t make mistake by putting Amharic as the most spoken African language in Africa,cause there are lot of data on internet that will prove you wrong.

    Comment by harunahussein | February 20, 2011 | Reply

  10. Great job – keep on the good work!

    Comment by Eli | October 21, 2011 | Reply


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