English only! (or how to misuse NLS APIs)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/02/03 18:41 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/02/03/366698.aspx

Remember my conversation about What is my locale? Well, which locale do you mean? And the part where I talked about how people tended to misuse the locales?

There is a new beta available for the MSN Toolbar suite, up at http://beta.toolbar.msn.com (though eventually this link will probably stop working).

If you have an English Windows 2000 and Windows XP, you are all set. If not, then you may see something like this:

(From a machine with a Czech system locale)

Lets ignore the fact that over 50% of Microsoft's products are bought outside of the US, and that between 70% and 100% of those people do not want to use the English language.

And let's also ignore the fact that this is on the INTERNET, which is a world-wide enough fad to suggest that a huge number of people around the world will see it.

Both of those points cause this install to have problems, but we'll deal with those kind of problems another day.

Let's also ignore the fact that they do not allow it to install on Windows Server 2003 (so I could not install on my main machine).

Thats a problem too, as far as I am concerned -- especially since they said "XP or later" when Server 2003 is the only shipping OS that is later!

For now, let's deal with the fact that they detected the LANGUAGE VERSION OF THE OPERATING SYSTEM using a totally inappropriate NLS setting. A setting that anyone can change and find themselvews unable to install without being given a somewhat scary warning.

I'm not going to install for now -- I'll wait until they are a bit more internationally friendly.

Thumbs down for the MSN Toolbar Suite Beta from this developer. :-(


This post brought to you by "N" (U+004e, a.k.a. Latin Capital Letter N)
(A letter that has been a longtime sponsor of Sesame Street and which is used to seeing content outside of the US excluded)

# Michael Kaplan on 3 Feb 2005 4:44 PM:

Note that there is NO valid NLS locale setting to use here -- all of them are changeable and have nothing to do with the location of the machine, or even the "language version" of the machine.

# Chris Lundie on 3 Feb 2005 6:00 PM:

I had the same warning message, and my region is English (Canada). I guess it wanted to see English (United States).

# Jonathan Hardwick [MSFT] on 3 Feb 2005 6:16 PM:

Let's not forget this is a beta, that the MSN toolbar team have promised international support for the release version, and that although it works on Server 2003 they didn't have time to fully test the beta on it, so there's no support. You can use an install-time flag to get around it - see the Channel 9 support wiki for details :)

# Michael Kaplan on 3 Feb 2005 6:30 PM:

Well, perhaps I would be less harsh if they were not misusing my team's APIs to support their cultural limitations (though failing Canadian English is particularly bad here).

Once they prove to be more supportive of my customers, I promise to be more supportive of their product.... :-)

# David Pickett on 4 Feb 2005 9:31 AM:

Speaking of stuff that's broken in other languages, MSN Search doesn't return the nifty encyclopedia definitions at the top of the search results unless you're using English. (The search results are still in English, you're just missing what's probably the most-useful result. On the bright side, they do translate the UI links at the top of the page for you.)

# Martin on 4 Feb 2005 9:40 AM:

The other day all the tables of contents in a 300-page manual I was writing disappeared when I updated the TOC field.
You can imagine how pleased I was. I went back to a backup and discovered that Word 2002 was now set up to destroy all tables of contents, automatically.
To cut a long story short, it turned out to be because I'd switched my copy of Windows XP to a German locale to test some VBScript code. Switching back to English restored the tables of contents.
It would have been more sensible for Microsoft to ditch all this condescending localisation stuff and standardise on a UI language equally understood by everyone - such as Latin. Think of the programming effort saved and the bugs avoided.
The average intelligence of Windows users would go up, too.

# Mike Williams on 4 Feb 2005 5:55 PM:

Most of the Office download pages for English patches/add-ons etc specify that you have to have English(US), not simply "English". This includes for example, the Irish spell-checker. I suppose this means that it's not meant for people who have English(Irish) for a setting.

It's amazing the number of bugs you can find in MS software by having your user locale or keyboard language set to something like English(UK) or English(Australia). It always comes down to a code assumption that for some locale parameter English = English(US).

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referenced by

2005/02/21 Give me a [word-]break!

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