If you had gotten there first, you might have staked your claim too!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/09/21 03:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2007/09/21/5025885.aspx

I was reading Raymond Chen's blog post Find the Flowers vs. Minesweeper which is a pointer to David Vray's post over on the Shell Blog entitled The UI design minefield - er... flower field?? and it got me thinking about the most recent version of a question that gets asked by someone to one of the various lists I am on at least twice a month, if not more often....

A question that the Shell post did not mention but which does end up getting involved in many cases.

The question?

Is there a difference between running a localized version of Vista and running with the same particular user interface language?

This question is really ill-formed, though. And I don't just mean in the way that the two clauses don't seem to be balanced very well; that part is my fault. :-)

It is just that comparing a UI language to the localized SKU is comparing your right hand to your left index finger to ask if they are the same!

To the conversation I will add the concept of a "mother tongue" for the copy of Windows -- the first language that is installed.

THAT language is special, because there are several items like folder names and account names and so forth that NEVER change from that mother tongue.

In versions of Windows prior to Vista it was almost always English1 but in Vista English really is just another language, so the mother tongue really can be any localized SKU.

Now that mother tongue gets to make a lot of decisions that are pretty much irreversible for the install, things that will be different for any other mother tongue with the matching UI language installed on top of it.

It is fun to think about issues like games and such, but the same technologies come into play when decisions like R.O.C. date formats in Traditional Chinese or other truly contentious issues come up, as well. One never knows where the next geopolitical issue will come from, so being able to have lots of choices is important!

Plus there are additional features cued by user interface language like speech (discussed previously here and here) and some mostly by mother tongue but subtly altered in part by user interface language (like localized paths, as I discussed here).

You can probably find the odd bug here and there where the documentation (which is largely going to be user interface language based) runs afoul trying to document features that change based on SKU.

When you see default font decisions based on that bizarre combination of user interface language, default system locale, and the UI language of the LocalSystem account (which almost never shows UI), it becomes well nigh impossible to know what font will be used sometimes unless you either choose it yourself or are on the typography team like Si.

So in the context of the Flower Field vs. Minefield kind of decision, someone has to decide if the decisions are to be SKU based or user interface language based, and then all of the documentation issues pop up as well if decisions are not based on the user interface language.

So the answer to the perennial question

Is there a difference between running a localized version of Vista and running with the same particular user interface language?

is simple to answer:

Why yes, there is. Because the localized language was there first!


1 - As I pointed out Microsoft, you giving us some LIP?, some of the worst scenarios with the English base solution were addressed in some of the XP SP2 LIPs.


This post brought to you by (U+2698, a.k.a. FLOWER)

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referenced by

2011/02/10 A design flaw not being fixed is not a bug. And it's not "By Design", either.

2011/01/12 Adding a whole new DISMension to an old issue

2008/05/06 By some accounts, the names can be changed

2007/12/17 What's the difference between running a localized version of Windows and running Windows with that user interface language?

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