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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Microsoft’s Cambodia team asks for help with Khmer language translator

Microsoft’s Pily Wong and Piseth Chhourm show a new Microsoft Surface computer
Microsoft’s Pily Wong and Piseth Chhourm show a new Microsoft Surface computer. Stuart Alan Becker

Microsoft’s Cambodia team asks for help with Khmer language translator

Microsoft’s Cambodia office is promoting the development of a “Translator Hub” so that software developers and others may have free, quick online access to translation between the Khmer language and other languages.

Pily Wong, Country Manager, Microsoft, Chief Representative, says Microsoft is providing the servers and the bandwidth to operate the system, but needs universities and students to provide their time to make sure the transaction is as accurate as it can possibly be.

“We have a program called Microsoft Student Partner, and we empower students by giving them free software and online training,” Wong said. “Now we come up with the Microsoft Translator Hub Project to help Cambodia preserve the language.”

Wong says the project is targeted for completion by the middle of next year and was seeking partners including government entities and universities.

“We want the universities to contribute some time from their students to do the data entry and we want the government entities to do the review of the translations and Microsoft will provide the project management, the technology, hosting all the servers and the connectivity,” Wong said.

“This is for Cambodia. Even for Microsoft, this is not a commercial venture. After the tool is ready, it is free for the community.”

Applications include programmers who need translations and can use the hub interface to integrate a translation engine. People can visit the site at

“We are doing this for the community,” Wong said. “If anyone wants to build a translator to translate all the documents of the Khmer Rouge trial, for example, they would have good quality translation from either direction.”
Wong said Microsoft wants the universities and the government to be of service to Cambodia people.

“That’s why we are putting money into this. Microsoft contributes all the server capacities, the back end software and the project management.”

Wong said as a software company Microsoft had a commitment to quality products and wanted to make a high quality translator hub that could be used by all.

Wong said the Microsoft online search engine called Bing, was becoming a platform which would integrate tools for IT developers making things simpler for them.

Wong said the translator hub would be able to cater to millions of queries each minute with high quality translation.

“That’s why we need the government to support the project, including the Ministry of Education, the young people, the students and the universities,” he said.

Microsoft holds 95 per cent of the operating system software market in Cambodia, Wong said, with almost that same percentage being pirated copies.

He said the next successor operating system to Windows 8 would be Windows 8.1 and that all licensed Windows 8 users would get a free copy. Other new products on the horizon include a new version of Windows phone next year and a new version of Xbox 1 in November with the new Kinect home system.

Wong said Windows phone is the third most popular mobile phone operating system in Cambodia after IOS and Android.

“We took the third position from Blackberry,” he said. “People from government and the corporate world like to use Windows phone because it is so much more secure and the connections to the mail server are more convenient than any other phone.”

Other Microsoft product updates will be new versions of SQL server, System Center, Windows Serve, Share Point Server and Exchange Server, all coming in 2014.

Wong said the Microsoft Surface tablet PC, which sold for about $499 in the 32 gigabyte model, was not yet available for sale in Cambodia.

For the Microsoft Translator Hub, Wong said he hoped the same would happen in Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar as well as Cambodia so that people from each country to quickly get answers across languages.

“Depending on how fast and how supportive the government is, they can go ahead,” he said. “We count on the officials to contribute their knowledge and we want quality translation. This platform also needs to preserve the language and offer the correct translation to people who are searching to have a direct translation.”

Wong said it was vital that an official review be conducted by the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

“We want to make sure that the information we provide to the community is correct. We have a different approach. We prefer to have nothing than having the wrong thing.

“We are a representative office of Microsoft. Whatever Microsoft is doing across the world, we are doing the same: business development, but we are also working in education, community, IT developers, industry growth. We participate in the growth of the industry and we also advise people when they need some IT and train our partners,” Wong said.

He added that over the years software piracy had decreased dramatically in Hong Kong, China and Thailand.

“You can’t find software piracy in Singapore,” he said. “This just happened in the last few years. Investments happened from big corporations, once they see that intellectual property rights are well enforced and respected, they pour in investments to create research and development facilities and manufacturing.”

Wong said anti-piracy measures require education and enforcement.

“You don’t need many cases, just one or two and show the people the risk and the rest will fall into place,” he said.

In addition to his work at Microsoft, Wong also serves as President of the ICT Business Association of Cambodia.



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