According to today's Times, "It's absurd to give Bill Gates a gong for services to enterprise".

Columnist John Noughton states: "The news will raise hollow laughs from those familiar with Microsoft’s baleful effect on the software industry worldwide. And it will puzzle those who wonder what his precise contribution has been to UK enterprise.

"After all, Microsoft employs only 2,000 people in the UK. To date, the prime effect Microsoft has had is to suck billions of pounds in exorbitant licensing fees out of British companies, schools, universities, hospitals and government bodies."

As for foreign secretary Jack Straw's opinion that Gates "has had a profound effect on the British economy", Noughton agrees, but not that it is a positive one.

"Walk around the business district of any British city at night and peer into the windows of office blocks. What you will see are thousands upon thousands of PCs, each one of them running Microsoft software and each representing an outward flow of up to £440 in licence fees to Mr Gates’s Seattle empire."

He adds: "60 per cent of the cost of a PC system was accounted for by Microsoft licence fees. Multiply these numbers by the millions of PCs bought annually by British companies and organizations and you will get the measure of Mr Gates’s contribution to enterprise in the UK."