It may be Inside Baseball, but I've never been so proud to Throw an Elbow as this time....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/02/23 07:41 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2012/02/23/10271491.aspx


The other day, in The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 19: In honor of International Mother Language Day..., I pointed to a blog in Steven Sinofsky's Building Windows 8 Blog written by my teammate Ian Hamilton entitled Using the Language You Want.

My blog focused on one issue Ian covered that i thought was really cool.

But I'll be honest.

Ian's blog has a lot of things in it that I think are really freaking cool!

Today, I want to talk about another of those things.

In fact, it is something that I think is cool for two separate reasons. :-)

It is one of the first things he describes:

In some countries, people can purchase PCs with a variety of languages preinstalled. With Windows 8, users will be able install additional display languages beyond those preinstalled languages. This means that the language of the PC no longer needs to be a major consideration when deciding on which model to buy. If the language you want is not preinstalled on the PC you like, you can now install the one you want.

But for some families, allowing the installation of an additional display language might not be enough, as they also need the ability to switch between languages. To illustrate the point, let’s look at the United States (where historically we have been less sensitive to these issues than in most other places around the world). We know from 2009 census data that 80% of Americans speak English at home. The other 20% speak something other than English. Not surprisingly, 35,468,501 (12.41% of the total) speak Spanish at home. Some PCs sold in the US have had English and Spanish preinstalled on them. On those PCs, the user picks one language or the other, and the one not chosen is wiped off the hard drive after first run. Feedback showed that customers loved having a Spanish language PC, but what they really needed was Spanish and English, and the ability to switch between them. A subsequent study by an outside firm confirmed these results. In many cases, parents in the home spoke Spanish, and their children were speaking English. The ability to have a Spanish user account for the parents, and an English one for the kids—or at least the ability to switch a single account’s display language back and forth between English and Spanish—was the way to delight these customers.

New, easier way to get languages

The new Language preferences section in Control Panel is the new one-stop place to find all Windows display languages in Windows 8. In the past, some languages were available through Windows Update, and others were distributed through the Microsoft Download Center.

The reasons for separating the languages into two groups and their separated distribution channels made no sense to our customers. It wasn’t their fault. This classification of languages only made sense to our internal teams. This confusion was a great motivator for re-imagining Language preferences in Control Panel. We will no longer ask customers to understand these nuances. Looking at the end-to-end experience, it made sense to build an entirely new experience around the acquisition of new languages.

Do you see what he did there?

#1 -- the whole distinction between Language Packs and Language Interface Packs that I described in When terminology affects satisfaction is gone as of Windows 8!

#2 -- people who buy the wrong language version of Windows will be able to get the right one without upgrading to the most expensive SKU!

#3 -- people in two language households who need to be able to easily switch back and forth will, like the folks I mentioned in #2, be able to easily do so without having to buy the most expensive SKU!

Now all three of those items are amazing, they truly are.

In fact, right about now you might be questioning my math skills since I said I was going to talk about two cool things.

Well, I actually was thinking of those three things as ONE cool thing.

So let's think of them as 1a, 1b, and 1c! :-)

The other cool thing is that we will be destroying an soul-free industry that created tools to hack Windows in order to hack 1a and 1b and huge support hit that the "genuine" architecture's consideration of tools that hacked language support forced on users, through no fault of their own (a situation I indirectly and euphemistically referred to in Intended Implicatures Redux, aka On Unintended Genuinosity Negation).

Those bastards will be forced out of business, and customers will no longer be unfairly taken advantage of by unscrupulous hackers who tried to profit from their confusion!

So customers win, and Microsoft wins, and he only people who lose and basically losers who kind of suck as people, and who deserved to lose anyway!

Now I know most of my readers will consider most of my #2 as being a whole mess of "inside baseball". But let me say how pleased I am that Microsoft is "throwing an elbow" and hitting those losers right in the face (sorrry for mixing those sports metaphors!).

Improving language support for all of customers is just the cherry on top of the sundae! :-)


metathinker on 23 Feb 2012 9:09 AM:

> #2 -- people who buy the wrong language version of Windows will be able to get the right one without upgrading to the most expensive SKU!

> #3 -- people in two language households who need to be able to easily switch back and forth will, like the folks I mentioned in #2, be able to easily do so without having to buy the most expensive SKU!

But will you still have to pay extra for extra UI languages? That is the real customer demand (or at least my demand) - to have access to all languages at no extra charge. Right now, Office follows a model where extra UI languages can be applied to any edition/SKU, but you must still pay for each one. That is consistent with the letter of what you say, but not, in my opinion, the spirit.

Michael S. Kaplan on 23 Feb 2012 2:46 PM:

I don't know, but since there is no specific amount they will rasise the price to based on language support, I expect there to be no extra cost for these identified common scenarios, no.


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