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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Bhutan gets a taste of Windows
People of Bhutan
What will Bhutanese make of the infamous operating system?
For citizens of Bhutan, a kingdom nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, the world of Bill Gates must seem a long way away.

But the country is about to get its own taste of the world of Windows as its Dzongkha language is integrated into Microsoft's operating system.

Fonts for around 4,500 Dzongkha letters, characters and religious symbols have been developed for the Bhutanese version of Windows that will display the characters in the same way for the first time.

Currently, there are around seven different Dzongkha computer systems in Bhutan, all using different character codes and incompatible with each other.

Monks design fonts

Before now, the Bhutanese people could not perform basic computer tasks such as sending e-mails, saving files, using spreadsheets or writing documents because no native operating system supported them.

But Dzongkha Windows will "make using the computer as easy and comfortable in Dzongkha as in English", President of the Orient Foundation Graham Coleman told Kuensel, Bhutan's official newspaper.

The Orient Foundation, a UK company, has worked with the Dzongkha Development Commission and Microsoft on the project, which was largely funded by the Swiss Development Corporation.

The Orient Foundation specialises in building multimedia applications and digital libraries based around Mahayana Bhuddism.

The fonts are based on characters drawn by Bhutanese calligraphy artists and monks.

The final collection includes the drilbu, dorji and norbu characters which are widely used and important religious symbols.

With this new system, all kinds of religious texts and scripts can now be computerised, including the Bhutanese book of annual astrological predictions, the datho.

The finished version of Bhutanese Windows is due to be available in early 2003.

See also:

17 Jun 02 | South Asia
25 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
24 Sep 01 | Science/Nature
13 Jun 02 | Country profiles
22 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
10 Jun 02 | South Asia
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