The Greek government and Microsoft last Wednesday signed a strategic agreement offering preferential financial terms for the purchase of software licenses by the Greek state, free software use rights for Greek civil servants (including home use) and training by Microsoft on the use of new technologies. The agreement was signed in Lisbon by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on behalf of the Greek state. It is part of a government plan to promote a new digital strategy in the period 2006-2013 and to forging closer cooperation between the public sector and private enterprises in the IT sector. Under the agreement, Microsoft will set up an innovation centre in Greece with the aim to support the local academic community as well as Greek software companies in developing cutting-edge technologies and to improve their international competitiveness. Microsoft will also set up at least 10 computer labs for the vocational training of unemployed people, seniors as well as offering scholarships or free software to Greek universities. The agreement also envisages the introduction of pilot electronic governance programme and support of small- and medium-sized enterprises. The Greek minister urged Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates to hold a future government officials’ conference on information society in Athens, while stressing that the agreement offers significant opportunities to a new generation of Greek students, researchers and businesspeople.