Gates offers free software to Indonesian students

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has said he would help Indonesian students obtain free software and inexpensive personal computers to gain greater access to the Internet.

During a meeting here with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Gates, one of the world's richest men, expressed his commitment to supporting the government's efforts to improve education quality by providing Internet-based national education.

“He (Gates) told the President that Microsoft will continue to train teachers and students throughout Indonesia in software, computer and information and communication technology,” Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie told a press briefing after the meeting.

Yudhoyono told Gates that Indonesia and Microsoft should continue to work together as the cooperation would mutually benefit both parties.

The government is seeking to obtain software from Microsoft for a million computers for educational purposes in an effort to cut the ratio of computers to students from the current 1:1000 to 1:20, Aburizal said.

Gates said he was ready to help Indonesia get high-quality personal computers for a price of less than US$200 per unit, plus free software if Indonesia could make a deal with Intel chairman Craig Barrett, who will meet Yudhoyono in Jakarta next week.

“We will make a deal with Barrett to acquire cheap or even free processors for the computers to be distributed to the students. As a result, we will get a much lower price than $200,” minister of communication and information Muhammad Nuh said.

He expressed optimism that Indonesia could strike a deal with Barrett, who is known as a leading advocate for education improvement in the United States and around the world, and a vocal spokesman for the value of technology.

Gates also praised Indonesia's progress in fighting software piracy, pointing to fact the country had moved out from a priority ranking on a world piracy watch list.

“Gates' visit shows that he trusts we are making progress in fighting piracy. We are now checking government offices and big businesses to make sure they don't use pirated software. We want to get out from the watch list as soon as possible,” Nuh said.

Indonesia ranks as the fourth-worst offender of software piracy in the Asia Pacific after Vietnam, Pakistan and China.

Gates also expressed commitment to expanding the Microsoft Innovation Center program, which now runs at the University of Indonesia, the Bandung Institute of Technology, Gadjah Mada University and the Surabaya Institute of Technology. The center helps students conduct research in the information technology field.

Gates was in Indonesia as a key speaker at the presidential lecture to be held as part of Microsoft's annual Government Leadership Forum. 
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