Why one LIP and not another?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/10/30 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/10/30/10083402.aspx

Today's blog ties up some unresolved issues from a few prior blogs.

In particular, this blog talks about some issues that I hinted at in 4 out the door, in both 32 & 64 (aka What Irish, Malay, Maltese & Bengali have in common) from about three months ago.

In that blog, I pointed out several commonalities among those four Language Interface Packs.

And then there was a cryptic ending:

Now two of these LIPs (Maltese and Irish) both have something else interesting in common, something that I'll talk about more another day....

Think of that day as being today.... :-)

Now one of the data items I have mentioned every single time I have talked about a new Language Interface Pack being released is the number of speakers of a language.

That number often (though not always) represents the number of people who would consider it either:

Obviously this number alone is not necessarily the driver that decides whether a LIP will be released, and the fact that LIPs see this number all over the place helps to make this point.

For Irish and Maltese, that number is much smaller than most of the other LIPs, in fact. That is what they have in common.

But if it not just this number, then one of the obvious questions that can come up in a person's mind is simply wondering what might be the other factors that drive the decision to make a LIP.

Though if one thinks about it, they may be pretty obvious.

For example, although Language Interface Packs themselves are free downloads, they obviously aren't too terribly useful unless one has a copy of Windows one can use them on.

So the existence of a particular LIP can help encourage adoption of Windows itself!

Or in cases where one will almost certainly have already decided to have Windows, the LIP can really improve the user experience of it -- leading to improved customer satisfaction.

Sometimes there are formal procurement requirements that must be followed.

There might be times that  formal request from a government is involved as a part of its own efforts to enhance support of a language under its jurisdiction. Such requests are often tied to other work that Microsoft can be doing with a country like consulting or partnerships of various kinds. Kind of a win-win for Microsoft and the government and the users -- since everyone gets what they are looking for!

Now one method that as a rule is not a way considered in the complex decision-making process is individual requests from users.

I mean, even though Microsoft makes them free downloads, they are not free to create -- it is an expensive engineering effort, and there must always be a justification for such costs to be approved, for a language to be approved.

This answer of course covers not only the previous ideas I mentioned but probably the next ten I could put on the list, so in a way that answer short-circuits the need to keep listing our reasons.

In the case of individual users, there is no real way to quantify the benefit of supporting the LIP with such a small pool of people (or person!) making the request. There has to be more to it than that before such a large group of people is involved in such a big effort.

People like me and others often have to field such "individual" requests (I have even written about them here on occasion!) and although sometimes it is an idea already in some people's minds and can thus be added to a business case in progress, it is often just as likely to be a new request. And one that not very much can be done with.

Now that I think about it, a lot of the same rules apply to locales on windows too.

Though obviously it is a lot easier to add support for a locale then it is a partial (or full!) localization. I mean even if it is an easier business case to make, someone still has to make it....

One of the things I like about a lot of the work I do in general and the things I do to help out LIPs in particular is that despite the fact that at some level there is a business case and all that other stuff, it is mostly a feature that is at its core free and can really help people out.

It isn't ever just a raw body count....

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referenced by

2011/06/07 Whither アイヌ・イタㇰ (Ainu)?

2011/04/11 One of my colleagues is the "Pseudo Man" (a rich source of puns in conversation!)

2011/03/08 Lackng official influence frees me up somewhat to talk about things that interest me

2011/01/30 Even in India, the language is actually known as Bangla (not Bengali)

2010/11/25 One Uyghur walked into a Blog, and...

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