Today's Times newspaper has labelled Bill Gates' knighthood "absurd".

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."

But visitors to PC Advisor's news forum are mixed over their opinion of the knighthood.

"As the bloke who introduced accessible computing to the whole of the planet he richly deserves it," said one visitor.

"The number of firms he has put out of business is considerable," said another.

Noughton goes on to add that: "60 percent 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 organisations."

These press outpourings come the in the same week as the draft findings from the European Commission, which conclude that Microsoft may indeed be guilty of abusing its monopolistic position in Europe.

It is up for debate whether this is a case of extremely bad timing on the part of the Foreign Office or an attempt to avert attention away from the EC's initial findings.