THE world's largest software company, Microsoft, finally launched yesterday the most talked-about piece of software in the short history of personal computing - Windows 95. The full implications of this new system will not be known for several months but for those wishing to use the Chinese version the wait will be longer. At the launch, Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates greeted the citizens of Hong Kong in a taped video and announced the Chinese version of Windows 95 would be ready in 90 days. Laurie Kan, the managing director of Microsoft in Hong Kong, said the Chinese version was in the last stages of Beta testing, the process of letting a selected group of users run the program so bugs can be found. The Chinese version will include the standard input methods for Chinese, including Pinyin and Cangjie. Pinyin is the phonetic system based on the standard pronunciation of the dialect spoken in Beijing. Cangjie was invented in Taiwan and assigns various shapes of the characters to the standard keyboard. The advantage of Cangjie is that the characters can be entered into the computer without knowing how to pronounce them in the Beijing dialect. The product will be called Chinese Windows 95 and will support only the traditional characters used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. A later version, yet to be named, will support the simplified characters used in China and Singapore. Mr Kan was not worried about a report that the Chinese Government would support IBM's rival system, OS/2. He said that in the past two years the IBM system OS/2 was declining. 'When you don't have applications, you can't sell an operating system.' Microsoft has no plans to emmulate Apple's WorldScript, a system that allows Macintoshes to deal with most languages in the world including those that handle Chinese characters such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean and those that are written with non-Roman alphabets from right to left such as Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew. Microsoft's other operating system, Windows NT, which has been available for quite some time, is intended for use in business environments and is usually used over a network. Mr Kan said Windows NT would support Unicode, the system being developed by a consortium of software and hardware companies to handle all the languages of the world. The market for Windows 95 is clearly the home market and these multi-lingual considerations are less important. Nevertheless, Mr Kan said there were serious considerations about adding a Cantonese input method for Hong Kong users.