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Two small Provo software companies have linked up to convert a foreign language teaching program from the Apple Macintosh to Microsoft Windows that could find a niche in Utah and abroad.

In making The Language Tutor available in Windows format, Taras Development Corp. wants to crack the vast Japanese and European markets. Taras also hopes the new program finds a place in Utah schools. The Language Tutor, a series of interactive software programs that combine sound with graphics and texts, comes in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.Taras entered into an agreement with ViewSoft Inc. to develop the new package, which could be complete in one language as soon as Sept. 15. ViewSoft is a 2-year-old company with fewer than 10 employees, dedicated to changing the way programmers build programs for Windows, Apple Macintosh, Motif and other operating systems.

Giovanni Tata, president of Taras Development, formerly Taras Linguistic Systems Inc., said working with ViewSoft will trim years and dollars from development efforts. The two companies were brought together through the Provo Economic Development Department's ongoing effort to build a network of local businesses. Tata founded Taras in 1991 and employs five people.

The agreement allows the small businesses to upgrade quickly, be competitive and find a place in the market, said Paul Meyers, View-Soft president.

Tata says the Windows versions of The Language Tutor and other Taras software might assist Gov. Mike Leavitt in his efforts to create an "electronic highway" for education. Taras has developed programs that would assist students in concurrent enrollment, rural locations and continuing education.

"We're an integral part of what the governor's trying to push," Tata said. "It's a truly interactive learning tool." Taras has not had direct contact with the governor's office but is working with a Utah university and the state Office of Education.

ViewSoft bases its Editable Object System, or EOS, on the latest human interface theory emerging from university and corporate laboratories. Meyers said it allows programmers to be more efficient in their work than previously possible and claims the EOS product fundamentally changes the way programs are built.

The new ViewSoft technology will be getting its first test as part of the agreement with Taras.

"To our understanding, this is years ahead of any other commercial endeavor," Meyers said.