When the meaning of EOL changes

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/02/08 07:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/02/08/9959449.aspx

For years I lived on the East Coast, and because of that when people talked about Portland, they were usually talking about Portland Maine rather than Portland Oregon.

This all changed when I moved to Seattle in terms of what people would usually be referring to when they mentioned Portland.

Though even today it is hard sometimes to wonder why someone would go all the way to Maine for a concert!

And for me the same thing is happening with EOL.

As someone so concerned about backcompat for so long, EOL has always had a specific meaning:

End Of Life

For some this conujtres up images of the fictional "death panels" but for software people and others, the meaning is very different.

The time that the software is no longer supported by a company, which also means no more marketing, no more selling, no more promoting. When it is truly ended it would also mean no more security patches, either.

Anyway, I have been thinking about EOL in those terms for well over a decade now.

But recently I've been talking to different people, in a move not as jarring as the one from one coast to the other.

And by and large they have a very different meaning for EOL:

Extent Of Loc[alization]

This refers to how much of a given product is localized, for a particular language.

In the most extreme case we have pseudo localization, an automated process with the job of 'localizing" every single bit that it is able to do and has not been specifically told not to, working within any limitations it is told.

That would be the maximum amount of localization possible.

And in the least extreme case we have LIP (Language Interface Pack) languages that have even less coverage than other LIPs, due to much of the time/resources of the localizer being spent doing stuff other than localization. Which can happen in some cases....

but the whole time the main issue is that other EOL, aka Extent Of Localization, aka Extent Of Loc.

Generally it is thought of in as more granular sense, with the "fully localized language" like Japanese bring in a category just as Arabic as a "partially localized language" with a fallback to French of English is another.

Now the actual truth is that it ends up a spectrum, with these broad categories being just a convenient way to think about the issue.

The Language Interface Packs (LIPs) have a special place here since they are free in every version of Windows where they have thus far been made available.

The decision to want to localize more is a decision to start charging for them (and in the MUI case for limiting who can download the Language Pack to only certain Windows SKUs). As you can imagine, both decisions about and claims of the EOL can get quite complicated as one tries to make the case for or against those kinds of decisions, with heavy feedback from OEMs and system builders and other interested parties with very firm thoughts on what they can sell and what they cannot.

Much of this is something you can see on the Microsoft site, too (right here):

Language packs and extent of localization

In Windows Vista the number of languages for which Windows was localized was greatly expanded. In order to support that increase, Microsoft introduced the notion of extent of localization (EOL) which defines different localization tiers for the Windows languages.  The same model is used for Windows 7 language packs. This section outlines how the localization tiers are defined and what gets localized for each of them.

UI Categorization

To define the EOL, the UI is divided into three groups denoting how commonly the UI is being used by most users. These UI groupings are:

Localization tiers

Using the defined UI categories, three levels of localization are offered:

Complete language packs can have a level of localization that is “Full” or “Partial”.

The following table summarizes the extent of localization for the language packs shipped by Microsoft:

LP Type LIP Complete language packs
UI Levels EOL LIP Partial Full
Core UI
Most Commonly-Used UI       
Remaining UI          



Provided in the base or parent language

It is important to note that the tiered localization approach may result in a “mixed-language” experience in the languages that are not fully localized. This will be more prominent in languages localized with the LIP language level.

In the end, the decision of whether doling less gives customers using a given language more or whether doing more will give customers who use a given language less and so on ends up being even more complicated behind the scenes then it is out in front.

Anyway, I am slowly getting used to the new meaning of EOL.

Aaron Ballman on 8 Feb 2010 7:15 AM:

Funny, EOL immediately says "end of line" to me, but I also work on compilers.  ;-)

John Cowan on 8 Feb 2010 11:10 AM:

My wife, many moons ago, worked for GTE in Florida as a long-distance operator — this was before, or nearly before, subscriber-dialed long distance. People typically asked for numbers by city and local number, or even city and subscriber name, and she set up the trunk connection. When she moved to Denver, she got the same job with Mountain Bell. One day, a subscriber asked to be connected with such-and-such a number in "Hollywood". He meant Hollywood, California, of course, but out of habit my wife promptly forwarded him to the same number in Hollywood, Florida. And there was much confusion.

Context is all.

Cheong on 8 Feb 2010 5:22 PM:

I thought people use EOL and EOLN interchangably... (why they add the 'N' after an acronym is mysterious, I think...)

Please consider a donation to keep this archive running, maintained and free of advertising.
Donate €20 or more to receive an offline copy of the whole archive including all images.

go to newer or older post, or back to index or month or day