Theresa May has hailed the government's relationship with Microsoft, reserving special praise for the firm's commitment to addressing the IT skills gap.
The prime minister spoke to a group of Microsoft apprentices, interns and graduates during a visit to the vendor's Reading HQ - which is based in her home constituency - praising them for "shaping people's everyday lives" with the work they are doing around artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
May's visit comes after chancellor Phillip Hammond launched the government's cybersecurity programme at Microsoft's Future Decoded event in November, before visiting Microsoft's HQ in January as the vendor pledged to help create 30,000 UK apprenticeships.
The prime minister highlighted Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality and artificial intelligence work as key to the UK's digital future.
Speaking to Microsoft's employees, she said: "I have seen the amazing work going on at Microsoft and all of you have hugely exciting and interesting careers ahead of you.
"You are shaping people's everyday lives with what you do with artificial intelligence and HoloLens. This is an amazingly exciting place.
"Companies like Microsoft are important for the future of the UK economy. In the UK we have a lot of clever people who can do technology well, and that's an area we want to push as a government. We have a valued relationship with Microsoft and I'm sure we will continue to work with them for years to come."
Cindy Rose (pictured), who was made Microsoft's UK chief executive last year, added that young tech professionals are as important for the UK's future as they are for Microsoft itself.
Rose said: "We are delighted that the prime minister was able to visit Microsoft today and see the great work we are doing, especially by our young staff.
"Their personalities and skills are crucial for the future of the company as well as the country, as they will help create the next generation of technology that will empower people and businesses to achieve more.
"I share the prime minister's excitement in seeing how this group of interns, graduates and apprentices will shape their own futures and those of the people around them."
Despite hosting the prime minister, Microsoft found itself at loggerheads with the government after president Brad Smith said the vendor would not help government hack its customers.
In the wake of the London terror attack last week, home secretary Amber Rudd had called on tech firms to be more co-operative with governments looking to decode data relating to terror suspects.
Speaking to ITV, Smith said: "We will not help any government, including our own, hack or attack any customer anywhere.
"We will turn over data only when we are legally compelled to.
"When we get those kinds of requests or warrants, and when they are lawful, we act quickly; we can do so in a matter of minutes. But when governments go too far, we will say no."
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