Microsoft will get rid of swastikas in software font

A font that ships with the latest version of Microsoft's Office software inadvertently includes two swastikas, Microsoft said Friday.

The symbols of anti-Semitism and Nazism were included by mistake in the "Bookshelf Symbol 7" font that can be used in most of the Office System applications, including the 2003 versions of Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and Excel, a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

"The offensive symbols were included as an oversight. There was no malicious intent behind this," the spokeswoman said.

Microsoft posted an open letter to its Web site apologizing for the inclusion of the swastikas and released a tool that completely removes the font. In January, Microsoft plans to release a utility that just deletes the two swastikas from the Bookshelf Symbol 7 font, the spokeswoman said.

Microsoft is also working to rebuild and rerelease all of the Office products so they will no longer ship with the swastikas. This will take several months, the spokeswoman said.

Prior to making its announcement, Microsoft contacted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and various other organizations about the font. The ADL in a statement praised Microsoft for its efforts to remove the Nazi symbols.

The swastika, an even cross with arms bent at right angles in the same direction, is an ancient symbol that was used widely around the world until Adolf Hitler adopted it as the symbol for his Nazi Party in Germany.

The tool to remove the font can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site.

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Joris Evers

IDG News Service
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