Even every version of XP Home is fully internationalized....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/03/30 23:06 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/03/30/404007.aspx

Last night, I received the following question in e-mail:

Dear Michael.

I wonder if you can clarify this matter.
I was under the impression that Tamil Unicode was possible only under XP professional, - since regional lang settings are available in the Control Panel.
Yesterday I bought a new laptop that came with XP home edition. The regional language settings  was not available initially. I was disappointed and thought of upgrading to XP pro. But I went to the Help Button and saw a link that installed the regional lang setting. I was able to set up Tamil Unicode settings and I am now happily using Tamil Unicode in the preinstalled Microsoft Works..
The query is how come there is this impression that only Windows 2000 and XP pro support (Tamil)Unicode??

Thank you  for your time


I reassured him of one important fact here -- that every version of Windows 2000, Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional, and Windows Server 2003 contains all of the international support, no matter what localized version the SKU is.

So if you have XP Home then you have the support for Tamil, Georgian, Punjabi, Russian, Greek, Traditional Chinese, Bulgarian, Afrikaans, Catalan, Korean, Basque, Vietnamese, Spanish, Thai, French, Hindi, Japanese, Belorussian, Icelandic, Farsi, Galician, Danish, Ukrainian, Romanian, Simplified Chinese, Swedish, Konkani, Italian, German, Hungarian, Armenian, Konkani, Lithuanian, Divehi, Swahili, Czech, Dutch, Hebrew, Estonian, Gujarati, and all of the rest of them.

You may have to install the proper international support to get the language (and some on this list are only available in XP and later), but they are all there waiting for you to use them. Today!


This post brought to you by "ஶ" (U+0bb6, TAMIL LETTER SHA)
Recently (as of Unicode 4.1) added to Unicode based on a proposal by INFITT (International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil)

# Mike Williams on 30 Mar 2005 10:33 PM:

Perhaps the confusion lies in that only the Pro editions support MUI packs. Also sales-people tend to use *any* technical point to try to upsell folks to a more expensive version.

# Scott Hanselman on 30 Mar 2005 11:42 PM:

So, is the easy way to switch the whole interface is to add a MUI pack on XP pro? And each user can have a preferred language?

# Michael Kaplan on 30 Mar 2005 11:49 PM:

Yes, aslthough obviously this is cooler on Server than on Pro (since you can have many users in at the same time, rather than just one at a time).

I have always wondered how much of MUI on Pro is usually just a marketing feature since multiple people who comforftably speak different languages yet use the same machine BUT WHO WOULD HAVE A VOLUME LICENSING DEAL seems pretty obscure to me.

And swapping languages on the fly is a demo feature -- not really for customers but great for people marketing MUI or demonstrating it at conferences....

While multinational companies with a shared server who log on from different locations or helpdesk people who log on to a server for maintenance and see the server's info in their language seem so much more plausible to me.

I'll talk about this more another day. :-)

# Michael Kaplan on 30 Mar 2005 11:54 PM:

Mike, Mike, Mike -- still so cynical. :-)

I'll tell stories about the salespeople and marketing folks and MUI -- I don't think they are quite smart enough in many cases to have clever/evil schemes about that sort of thing....

# Scott on 31 Mar 2005 6:12 AM:

Why doesn't Microsoft provide multi-language support for the OS out-of-the-box like Unix and Mac systems? I've got Japanese Windows XP installed on my machine and, while most of the time it doesn't cause me too many problems, there are times when I would like to able to change the operating system's base language to English (e.g. when troubleshooting a problem). This sort of thing is possible on ENGLISH Windows XP with the MUI (http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/DrIntl/faqs/muifaq.mspx) as you say but, as far as I know, is not possible with any other language version of Windows XP. Is that correct? Of course, even if it was, the MUI is not available for retail purchase by individual customers! I can't figure out that one either.

The bottom line is, in this day and age, this functionality should be available out-of-the-box as a standard component of the operating system.

# Mike Williams on 31 Mar 2005 6:14 AM:

Just wander into a computer store (anywhere in the world AFAICT) and listen to the garbage these guys tell customers about Windows and Office in order to get them to upgrade.

Having MUI for retail would be a great boon for all those international transplants around the world who prefer or require access to software in their first language. They don't need to swap on the fly: simply being able to change it at log-in time would be very beneficial. The only "solution" at present is to multi-boot different language-versions of Windows, but then you have to reinstall all the apps on the new partition. Of course, you also have to buy the other-language versions from overseas suppliers or go through local grey-market dealers.

# Michael Kaplan on 31 Mar 2005 6:29 AM:

Scott -- I hear you, and a lot of people have heard it before, too. I do have some thoughts about it myself, and I will talk about them another time in a dedicated post (a different one than the one I talk about below in my response to Mike).

Mike -- I wa actually thinking of Microsoft sales and marketing when I said what I did. I totally agree with you about salespeople in stores, who do the same thing with stereos and cars and anything else they can talk up to get higher commissions. I probably won't talk about *that* stuff in the future, since it is almost a natural law for people to act that way when they work on commission. I will talk about the MS thing another day, though....

# Szajd on 31 Mar 2005 8:21 AM:

Didn't you mean SKU when you wrote SKY?

Or am I missing something?

# Michael Kaplan on 31 Mar 2005 8:26 AM:

I did indeed. Corrected. :-)

# Heath Stewart on 31 Mar 2005 8:59 AM:

MUI on XP Pro with Fast User Switching is like MUI on WS03. Every so often I feel like honing my German and switch to the German MUI pack while my wife still uses English on her profile. Throw in a fingerprint reader and it's a load of fun!

# Michael Kaplan on 31 Mar 2005 9:14 AM:

Ah yes, that is true. Easy to forget though (and there are occasionally interesting hiccups here with that feature!).

# Mike Williams on 1 Apr 2005 3:02 PM:

I remember my main grumble was that if you have a roaming profile and log into Windows machine in another UI language, then Windows starts creating a parallel series of new special folders (like My Music) in the new language. They weren't easy to get rid of IIRC. Apparently the problem was known to regular MUI users but hadn't ever been bugged till I sent some screen-shots to one of the Windows architects.

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referenced by

2008/03/27 Hebrew Vistas (aka And that's where I found Vista, was on the way to Jerusalem)

2007/10/10 Core XP user interface languages are not free as in beer, or speech

2007/10/06 Microsoft is evil, aka Proud to be a Vista anti-hero, aka I'm bad to the [CJK RADICAL ]BONE

2005/08/30 Keyboard Convert Service goes Bidi!

2005/05/27 What isn't in the default install for NLS

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