Russian computer scientists at ParaGraph International Inc, which has its US base in Campbell, California have not allowed the vicious and derisory comments made about the early versions of its handwriting recognition software used in the original Apple Computer Inc Newton MessagePad get them down. Instead they knuckled down and improved the script recognition software to the point where the latest Newton gets far more bouquets than brickbats, and a fair few floral tributes have been going Paragraph’s way. And the company’s persistence has really paid off with a contract from Microsoft Corp to develop a virtual reality world for the Microsoft Network. Paragraph will supply content for the new site, which is code-named Magic Resort, and will license its technology for three-dimensional environments to Microsoft. Needless to say, terms were not disclosed, but ParaGraph said the project will enable users to create avatars that can stand in for themselves and visit on-line versions of world cities, beginning with Moscow and Paris. A similar project by Paragraph is planned to go live later this year on People World, Japan’s number two on-line service. A further earnest of the progress Paragraph has made with its handwriting recognition software is that according to Reuter, the software will also be used in handheld computers running Microsoft’s Windows CE. Privately-held Paragraph was founded in 1989 by chairman and chief executive Stepan Pachikov, world chess champion Garry Kasparov and several engineers from the Russian Academy of Sciences. It currently employs about 150 people, most of them back home at the firm’s Moscow development center. The company looks for revenues to double this year over last, to $14m.