Microsoft's research arm will today sign an agreement committing two million yuan (about HK$1.87 million) to help a Beijing university prepare digital media and wireless hook-ups for the 2008 'hi-tech Olympics'. The agreement, which also commits three Microsoft researchers, comes in the fourth year for Microsoft Research Asia, part of a 50-nation laboratory network that is reaching out to media and Chinese university students this week to announce its latest projects. Contrary to expectations, Microsoft founder Bill Gates will not speak at this week's events. Microsoft Research Asia will sign the agreement with the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, chosen for its modern equipment and reputation for designing big projects such as aircraft. In June, Microsoft announced it would invest 6.2 billion yuan in China's software industry, with investments in education, training, manufacturing, outsourcing, exports and domestic software companies as part of a three-year Great Wall Plan. For the past five years, Microsoft has struggled to sell Windows because Chinese consumers think it costs too much, preferring instead to buy CD-Roms on the black market. However, the government has helped persuade the company to lower prices. Other hi-tech giants, such as Oracle and IBM, have also commandeered Beijing conference centres to announce their latest plans. Microsoft will also publicise how its research will make computers friendlier, faster and flashier. Researchers in China, where Microsoft opened a lab so it could hire computer-educated locals, are working on projects such as voice-to-voice language translation software and light-field special effects for video games.