Did you know that we run a worldwide 'local language programme' which provides language packs for a range of our software? And that if you're in Wales, you can use them to run Windows and Office in Welsh natively?

Welsh is one of Europe's oldest languages, and is growing, with over half a million speakers, especially amongst younger people. Since 1993 public bodies have been required to provide services in both English and Welsh, and so Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Torfaen uses ICT systems running on Windows 7 and Microsoft Office in Welsh. Historically the school had computer labs for lessons across the curriculum, but while students could create documents in Welsh, and look up Welsh websites, the interface of the applications was in English. “The tool bar and menus were in English. I found myself having to use English words to talk about the technology,” said Alun Thomas, Head of ICT at the school. “This was interrupting our practice of immersive learning, and giving the impression that Welsh is not a language used within modern technology.”

Microsoft partnered with the Welsh Language Board to develop the first Welsh Language Interface Packs, for Windows XP and Office 2003, and has continued to develop these as new versions came along - with the latest being Windows 7 in Welsh. Of course, the main benefit is for the students, as they can now stay fully immersed in their Welsh work. Once the interface is implemented, the applications automatically open in Welsh. As Alun said:

Everybody’s accepted the new interface easily. The technology that used to be in English is now in Welsh. Staff have taken to it well because it’s easy to integrate it into more lessons. Even people who were used to working on an English menu are using it more because it supports the ethos of our school—providing an immersive education in Welsh.

If you are interested in using this within your university, you can read more details in the Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw case study, or download the full range of language packs (Welsh packs are available for Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Office 2007, Office 2003, SharePoint 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services).

Here's the quick links for the most recent Welsh packs: