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Bill Gates, The Honorary Knight

It was his contribution to U.K. business and education that prompted the Queen of England to give Gates an honorary knighthood.

Bill Gates has been called a lot of things, and now he can add to the list Knight Commander of the British Empire.

Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect has been awarded an honorary knighthood by the Queen of England, Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office revealed Monday. Gates joins U.S. presidential contender Wesley Clark and former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the order.

The honor was granted in recognition of Gates' contributions to business, employment, and education in England, and the charitable work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which in 2000 earmarked $210 million for college scholarships at Cambridge University.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in a written statement, called Gates "one of the most important global business leaders of this age." Straw added, "Microsoft technology has transformed business practices and his company has had a profound impact on the British economy."

Gates was in London to speak Monday at the Advancing Enterprise conference. The knighthood itself will be awarded in a ceremony at a later date.

Given the honor bestowed upon Gates, the city of London recently averted what might have been a public-relations embarrassment when the borough of Newham decided to stick with Microsoft products after looking into the feasibility of open-source software.

"Proposals advanced by Microsoft offer significant benefits, not only for Newham, but also for the wider public sector," a Newham council staff member, Richard Steel, said in a statement issued last month explaining the decision.

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