Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is on a mission in Malaysia to help the government improve computer proficiency and cultivate technology specialists who could transform this Southeast Asian nation into an innovation hub.
The billionaire software magnate was scheduled to hold a half-hour meeting Tuesday with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Gates also was expected to visit a school to launch a state-backed program to promote information technology by providing computer training for teachers in thousands of public schools.
"We are excited about the potential Malaysia has and we continue to see growth in Malaysia's IT competitiveness," Microsoft Malaysia said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Gates "will share Microsoft's vision of seamless computing, emphasizing the role of Malaysia's information technology industry to build local talent to actively participate in the digital age," the company said.
Microsoft announced last week it will offer a version of its Windows operating system geared toward beginning computer users in Malaysia and neighboring Thailand starting in September.
The offering, dubbed Windows XP Starter Edition, will be part of government-sponsored programs meant to provide more affordable personal computers in those countries.
Microsoft faces increasing competition from cheaper rivals - such as those based on "open source" Linux technology - in developing markets, and faces a continual challenge to combat piracy of its products.
Gates, who last visited Malaysia in 2000, sits on an multinational advisory panel that helps the government formulate information technology policies, especially regarding the Multimedia Super Corridor, a business zone offering tax breaks and grants to attract companies and researchers.
Malaysia's high-tech industry centers on labor-intensive processes - such as assembling and testing components - that rank low in terms of know-how. Analysts have said the education system needs to be revamped to attract more investment and spur research and development.
Gates has already visited Australia and heads next to China.
Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"