At the launch of Windows Vista at the British Library this morning, Bill Gates announced that Microsoft has teamed up with the library to offer key literary works in digitised versions.
Turning the Pages 2.0 , as the project has been dubbed, will allow students and researchers all over the world to access digitalised versions of Leonardo da Vinci's large collections of works. Codex Arundel, the single largest collection of da Vinci's works, is to be included; as is Codex Leicester, which Bill Gates has in his private collection.
For six months from today, both versions will be available from the British Library's website . Users can flick through the pages as they would a printed book, and compare the two versions.
Users can comment on text and images, and search collections, as well as save notes either for private use, or publically for others to see.
Lynne Brindley, chief executive at the British Library, said that by the end of this year 25 million pages of books will have been scanned and added to the Turning the Pages 2.0 service. She said the online service will include key cultural, literary and religious treasures.
Bill Gates, who donated the original Codex Leicester, said the collaboration with the British Library mixes his "love of education and learning".
Gates said that by adding graphics chips originally designed for gamers to Windows Vista, Microsoft has managed to make the experience of accessing literary works online as 'book-like' as possible.
He said: "It has been a tough software challenge to make Turning the Pages 2.0 such a realistic, rich and powerful experience".