Maybe they had a really great experience on J-Date, or really liked Jay Leno

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/07/08 07:01 -04:00, original URI:


Unicode has been around for a while.

And Microsoft has been supporting Unicode for a quite a while too.

Sometimes only in interfaces (like VB <= 6.0), sometimes not in newly acquired software (like when we put out that AntiSpyware thing's first rebranded version), but by and large it's been Unicode, Unicode, Unicode, Unicode, Unicode.

Unicode, Unicode, Unicode, Unicode, Unicode.

Did I mention we do lots of Unicode?

With one very very VERY visible exception.

I will quote the prophet Pirillo to explain in his recent J Smiley Outlook Email: Problem and Fix! blog:

You see, for some inexplicable reason, some brilliant engineer thought it wise to correct “:)” as a smiley rendered in a specific font face when composing rich text documents (and/or HTML email). This is why people think you’re crazy for inserting random “J” characters in your emails – they don’t have the same fonts installed on their machine! 

Channeling my inner Dennis Miller here for a moment (Dennis Miller fans can judge said channeling)....

Now I don't want to go off on a rant here, but why the hell is this still happening? Why did they decide to jack us all up with this "dot dash dash dash" reject that looks like an "i" that hooked its pantyhose on something get out of the cab? Did this person even know that there was already a smiley in Unicode at U+263a (WHITE SMILING FACE) and a frowny at U+2639 (WHITE FROWNING FACE)? Perhaps someone just had a really great experience on J-Date or were longtime fans of Jay Leno so they wanted immortalize in this Outlook Easter egg so that even after Microsoft Typography made Segoe UI Symbol available in both Windows and Office they'd still keep using this Wingdings throwback image to be backwards compatible with our friends we send mail to who run Windows 98 can still think I'm smiling when I say something?

Forget about the rest of the world that may not be using rich text for email for a minute, what about mail interoperability with the people running on non-Microsoft platforms. There are a few of those, after all. Oh wait. There are many now. So maybe we could retire this one with a Office Jenuine Hotfix since the whole world is a huge place and most of it (including the very bug database that Office uses and into which people often paste email threads) needs to move stuff in and out of plain text a lot and "J" could stand for all kinds of words one shouldn't be using in bug databases.

Can't we just drown without a "Charlie-Quebec-Delta" this anachronism of a time when a hacky symbol was all we could do for performant little pictures? I mean Romeo has not denied his father and accepted his name just so this particular Juliet could keep her initial in our email. She needs to just wipe that smile off her face that she keeps showing in mail and grow up.

It would have been even better to fix this in Office 2010 which was like the most downloaded Beta ever, but we can settle for a service pack. C'mon Office, give us something to REALLY feel smiley about!

Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong....

Uncle Zip on 8 Jul 2010 8:36 AM:

What about ZIP Folders? When will Microsoft support Unicode there?

Michael S. Kaplan on 8 Jul 2010 9:06 AM:

When they write their own ZIP handler, or a find a better quality 3rd party to give them one that does it right....

John Cowan on 8 Jul 2010 11:20 AM:

Lots of non-old-farts don't even know what :-) and other smileys mean any more, so they are helpfully spelling corrected (or Cupertino'd) into more reader-friendly icons.  Jeepers, it's just a spelling correction.  You can turn it off.

That said, it *is* really stoopit when "(See Paragraph 8)" becomes "(See Paragraph ☺" because someone found "8)" in a list of old bixies.

Random832 on 9 Jul 2010 10:52 AM:

The really odd thing is that the autocorrect settings don't even _allow_ you to specify formatted text for your own entries anymore - yet it still supports the functionality, just for the sake of those ill-conceived defaults.

Yuhong Bao on 9 Jul 2010 4:55 PM:

"What about ZIP Folders? When will Microsoft support Unicode there?"

On that topic, the fact is that zipfldr.dll do use the OEM code page (I have disassembled it and it calls OemToCharBuff), contrary to your blog article, just in case you hasn't seen my comment on it.

Michael S. Kaplan on 9 Jul 2010 5:46 PM:

Those 3rd parties we license the stuff from are not always so Unicode as us.... :-)

Mihai on 10 Jul 2010 3:58 PM:

When I was reading "with one very very VERY visible exception" I thought "oh, another post about MSI" :-)

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referenced by

2012/01/04 If someone blathers on about how Windows supports Unicode, you can suggest they just ZIP it, if you like!

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