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Bill Gates to finally receive Harvard degree

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It's not like he needs it to beef up his resume, but the world's richest college dropout is finally getting his degree.

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Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., will speak at Harvard University's commencement ceremony in June and like all commencement speakers will receive an honorary degree from the institution.

It's hard to guess if Gates, the wealthiest person in the world and co-founder of a company that brought in US$44 billion in revenue last year, cares. But the programming whiz who once dropped out of Harvard will likely feel some sense of satisfaction.

Gates arrived at Harvard as a freshman in 1973 and while there got to know Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, who lived just down the hall. Gates had already discovered his interest in software, having programmed computers since the age of 13. While at Harvard, Gates helped develop a version of the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer, the MITS Altair.

During his junior year, Gates dropped out of the university to work full-time on Microsoft, a company he and his childhood friend Paul Allen founded. In hindsight, it's hard to criticize that decision.

The commencement ceremony takes place June 7. Harvard does award honorary degrees in different subjects but doesn't announce the subject in advance.

In July next year, Gates plans to step down from his day-to-day role at Microsoft in order to devote most of his time to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic organization dedicated to solving global health problems and funding educational programs. He'll remain chairman of Microsoft.

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