The Queen is preparing to knight Microsoft's Bill Gates for his "outstanding contribution to enterprise".

Gates will be made an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. He will received the award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. No date has been set.

Gates is a popular figure with several senior UK politicians. He was described by foreign secretary Jack Straw in a statement as: "One of the most important business leaders of his age."

Straw went on to say: "Microsoft technology has transformed business practices and his company has had a profound impact on the British economy."

Gates will not become Sir Bill Gates though – only British and Commonwealth citizens winning the honour are entitled to add Sir in front of their names.