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Windows Vista: An Expanded View of Internationalization

Over the years, even before the introduction of Windows 95, each version of Windows has built upon its predecessor to provide improved support for handling the international needs of its users in four basic areas:

Vista Screen

  • Displaying and creating text in different languages
  • Choosing the display format of dates, time, numbers and currency
  • Having access to different languages for the operating system’s user interface [UI] (i.e,. system menus, dialog boxes, messages, etc.)
  • Providing different functionality for different regions

In Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME, partial multi-script document creation was enabled. This included the input and display of languages like Chinese, Japanese and Korean on non-East Asian versions of the operating system.

With the release of Windows 2000, text encoding was moved from code pages to the use of Unicode. This allowed the display and input of any language on any localized version of windows including English. Unicode also allows the support of languages that had very little support in the past, like Hindi, Sanskrit, Georgian and others. Another feature introduced in Windows 2000 was a technology called Multilingual User Interface (MUI), which allowed one computer to display the operating system UI in different languages without having to have different localized versions partitioned on the disk. This meant that you could change the system UI by merely logging off and logging back in. You did not have to reboot the whole system. This gave global companies a more efficient way to support multiple languages across their organizations. MUI was a great start, but it did not give the user 100% of the UI in the different languages. The rest of the UI was in English.

With Windows XP, more languages and locales were supported and MUI was improved to approximately 97% coverage of all the UI (see Windows XP overview page for more details). Before Windows XP, users had to wait until the next major versions of the operating system before they could get any new languages added.

Another new concept called Language Interface Packs (LIPs) was introduced with the Windows XP release. Using the MUI framework, Microsoft create language skins that provided 80% of the average user experience, by translating just 20% of the UI. This allowed many more people access to the power of the personal computer in their own language (Windows XP LIPs). With Windows Vista, users experience the continued improvement of the four areas mentioned above.

With support added to Windows XP, Microsoft enabled new languages between major releases. This functionality of language enabling was called ELKs (Enable Language Kits), and it became very evident it was a success when 25 languages were enabled with the release of Windows XP SP2. Eleven more languages were released via the Microsoft Download Center (see below). This added support for languages like Bengali, Maori, isiZhosa, isiZulu, Mohawk.

In Windows Vista, all of these features have been updated, and much more support has been added.

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On This Page

Display and Creation of Text in Different LanguagesDisplay and Creation of Text in Different Languages

Input of Text Methods Updated and New Ones CreatedInput of Text Methods Updated and New Ones Created

Keyboard LayoutsKeyboard Layouts

Input Method Editors (IME) Input Method Editors (IMEs)

Handwriting RecognitionHandwriting Recognition

Speech RecognitionSpeech Recognition

Display Format for Dates, Time, Numbers, Currency, Etc.Display Format for Dates, Time, Numbers, Currency, Etc.

Unattended Setup for LocalesUnattended Setup for Locales

Access to Multiple Languages for the User InterfaceAccess to Multiple Languages for the User Interface

Different Functionality for Different RegionsDifferent Functionality for Different Regions

What about Developers?What about Developers?

SummarySummary

Display and Creation of Text in Different Languages

The first thing that Windows Vista users will notice is that, out of the box, all languages and scripts are enabled. No longer will you need to turn on the support for East Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) and Complex Script languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Indic, Thai, etc.). These languages will just be there. Included in this is support for seven new complex scripts.

New Complex Script Language Support
KhmerLaoMongolian
OriyaSinhalaTibetan
Uighur  

Also, three non-complex scripts are supported.

New Non-Complex Script Language Support
Canadian SyllabicsEthiopicYi

To support these scripts, several new fonts have been added. Note that the naming syntax in the following table is font name (language it supports),

New Fonts
DaunPenh (Khmer)DokChampa (Lao)Euphemia (Inuktitut, Cree)
Gisha (Hebrew)Iskoola Pota (Sinhala)Kalinga (Oriya)
Kartika (Malayalam) *Leelawadee (Thai)Malgun Gothic (Korean)
Meiryo (Japanese)Microsoft Himalaya (Tibetan)Microsoft JhengHei (CHT)
Microsoft Uighur (Uighur)Microsoft YaHei (CHS)Microsoft Yi Baiti (Yi)
Mongolian Baiti (Mongolian)MoolBoran (Khmer)Nyala (Ethiopic)
Plantagenet (Cherokee)Vrinda (Bengali) * 

* Kartika and Vrinda shipped in Windows XP SP2

Note that five of these fonts are created for use as East Asian UI fonts. They are:

  • Chinese Simplified: Microsoft YaHei
  • Chinese Traditional: Microsoft JhengHei
  • Japanese: Meiryo
  • Korean: Malgun Gothic
  • Uighur: Arabic Microsoft Uighur

 

Sample fonts for Tibetan, Mongolian, Uighur and Yi

Figure 1: Sample text in fonts for Tibetan, Mongolian, Uighur, and Yi

Along with the new fonts, updates to fonts for earlier supported scripts have been added:

  • Core fonts (like Arial, Microsoft Sans Serif, Tahoma, and Times New Roman) now support Unicode 4.1 for Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Arabic and Hebrew. Tahoma and Microsoft Sans Serif fonts also have updated Unicode 4.1 support for Thai.

  • Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) fonts:

    • Chinese fonts
      • Support Unicode supplementary characters (extension-B)
      • Expand code page coverage (GB18030, CNS 11643)
    • Japanese fonts
      • Expand code page coverage (JIS X 0213, JIS90S, Japanese publishing standard glyphs, IBM extension characters)
  • Overhauled Indic fonts as well as the Uniscribe shaping engine:

    • Added Latin character support
    • Corrected how several glyphs are displayed
    Unicode Code PointOldNew
    U+0915Old U+0915 GlyphNew U+0915 Glyph
    U+0925Old U+0925 GlyphNew U+0925 Glyph
    U+0935Old U+0935 GlyphNew U+0935 Glyph
    U+0b9aOld U+0b9a GlyphNew U+0b9a Glyph
    U+0bb4Old U+0bb4 GlyphNew U+0bb4 Glyph

    Examples of several corrected glyphs

  • Correct punctuation positioning

  • Old positioningNew positioning
    Old punctuation positioningNew punctuation positioning
  • Revised fonts for Bengali, Malayalam, Telugu and Oriya to scale better when used with other Indic fonts.
  • OpenType expanded upon to allow for locale-specific typographic conventions
  • This allows the use of different glyphs for certain characters used in more than one language (e.g., Indic digits used between Arabic and Urdu)

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Input of Text Methods Updated and New Ones Created

Windows 2000 was the first version of the Windows operating system that allowed for multiple language input on any version of the OS. That meant that you could enter Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Thai text using different language keyboard layouts and Input Method Editors (IMEs) on an English version of Windows 2000. Windows Vista enhances this feature by adding and updating keyboard layouts and IMEs for existing and newly-supported languages.

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Keyboard Layouts

Below is a table of all the new keyboard layouts added to Windows Vista:

New keyboard layouts in Windows Vista
Assamese – INSCRIPTKhmerRomanian (Programmer)
BashkirLaoRomanian (Standard)-- [formally named Romanian in Windows XP]
Belgian (Period)Lithuanian NewSinhala
Bengali - INSCRIPT (Legacy)LuxembourgishSinhala - Wij 9
Bulgarian (Latin)Macedonian (FYROM) _ StandardSorbian Extended
Bulgarian (Phonetic)Mongolian (Mongolian Script)Sorbian Standard
Bulgarian (Typewriter)NepaliTajik
Georgian (Ergonomic)OriyaTibetan (PRC)
Georgian (QWERTY)Pashto (Afghanistan)Turkmen
GreenlandicPersian -- [formally named Farsi in Windows XPUighur
Inuktitut –LatinPortuguese (Brazilian ABNT2)Ukrainian (Enhanced)
Inuktitut –NaqitautRomanian (Legacy)Yakut

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Input Method Editors (IMEs)

IMEs are used to enter the many thousand characters of Chinese, Japanese and Korean using a standard keyboard. In Windows Vista, many major enhancements have been added to make their use even easier.

Chinese Simplified IMEs

For Windows Vista, Simplified Chinese input is unified into a single input platform with multiple styles, although there still is access to several Windows XP IMEs. The platform is the Microsoft PinYin IME (MSPY), and it has three styles:

  • Classic Input Style

    • Sentence-based input. Using the Classic Input style, a pinyin syllable is converted into a Chinese character automatically when you start typing the next one. This style is the same style used in previous versions of MSPY.

  • Natural Input Style

    • Phrase-based input. While using this style, couples of unconverted pinyin syllables display simultaneously in the Reading window. MSPY converts these into Chinese characters automatically, eliminating the reading window flicker.

  • ABC Input

    • Word-based input. This style is designed on the basis of the Intelligent ABC Input Method, developed under the lead of Professor Zhu Shoutao at Peking University. When using the ABC input style, there is no auto-conversion from pinyin to Chinese characters. Instead, the candidates are selected by pressing SPACE or ENTER

Besides these three input styles there are four other input methods available. They are:

  • IME Pad – Character Search Applet (CSA)

    • Chinese character input – You can search for a character by its basic radical and the number of strokes.

    • Symbol Input – Allows quick access in table form to punctuation and other symbols (like math, tables, units, etc.).

  • Internal Code Input – Allows the input of characters using their hexadecimal code for the following encodings:

    • Unicode

    • GB18030

Chinese Traditional IMEs

The IMEs for Chinese Traditional input has added a new addition to the Intelligent IMEs (New Quick) as well as enhancing the Intelligent IMEs rich typing features. These enhancements for New Phonetic, New ChangJie, and Quick IMEs are:

  • Input status feedback

    • Indicates the IME conversion status and highlights unexpected change

  • Instant 3-in-1 code input

    • Code input without changing input method by utilizing leading input

    • Extend code input to BIG5, Unicode and Scalar Code input

      • Support CNS 11643 and HKSCS 2004 input sequence

  • Enhanced conversion accuracy

    • Updated language model

    • Improved learning algorithm

    • New user phrase tool – Allows user to add often used phrases or proper names to the IME phrase library. This reduces the inconvenience of modifying characters all the time.

  • Make typing easier

    • Fuzzy reading input (New Phonetic IME only) – Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish retroflexs, non-retroflexs, nasals and non-nasals when using Phonetic input. The Fuzzy reading function helps select the correct Chinese characters and strings with similar sound without the need of retyping.

    • Toneless input (New Phonetic IME only) – Allows the use of the <SPACE> key to input continuously without entering any tone marks.

    • Wildcard support (New ChangJie IME, New Quick IME) – If a radical of certain character is unknown, when using New ChangJie IME or New Quick IME, one can use the “Z” key as a wildcard instead.  If the character displayed is not what is wanted, pressing the DOWN arrow opens the Candidate list, which will list all possible characters to choose from.

    • Improved punctuation input – Two new methods

      • Office-like punctuation input: <Ctrl>+Punctuation

      • Leading key input: `+Punctuation

    • New Phonetic IME only Features

      • Intelligent Auto Input Switch – Reduces the need to switch conversion modes between Chinese and alphanumeric modes

      • Show input reading in candidate list

        • Supported formats:  Phonetic, Taiwan pinyin, Hanyu pinyin and Secondary Phonetic Pinyin

      • Support 3 Pinyin keyboards

        • Taiwan pinyin, Hanyu pinyin and Secondary Phonetic Pinyin

As an added way to enter characters, all IMEs have access to the IME Pad.  The IME pad allows the input of characters by one of four ways:

  • Hand Writing – Useful if you only remember how to write a character, but do not remember its phonetic readings or radicals

  • IME Pad's Hand Writing Function
  • Strokes – Search for a character using the total number of strokes it takes to render it

  • Radical – Search for a character using its base radicals

  • Symbols – Search for a character in a given range of like characters

Japanese IMEs

In the past, there have been two Japanese IMEs: the Standard and Natural Input styles. Windows Vista has unified both the Standard and Natural Input style into one single IME. It is called the Microsoft IME, but the good thing is that it keep both the Standard and Natural Input functionality.Along with unification, the following features have also been added:

  • JIS 2004 support

  • Unicode supplementary characters (Surrogate pairs) support

  • Enhanced Character List Applet in IME Pad

    • Allows user to input all JIS/Unicode characters

    • Character List Applet

  • Enhanced Candidate UI

    • Can expand Candidate UI from one column to many columns with the <Tab> key

    • Enhanced Candidate UI

  • Users can submit words not found in the IME to Microsoft for possible use in later updates.

  • Japanese IME's Submit Words Dialog Box

Korean IME

A majority of the work done for the Windows Vista’s Korean IME was in the area of Hangul (the Korean alphabet) to Hanja (Ideographic characters) conversion.  The new or updated functions of the Korean IME are:

  • Hangul to Hanja word conversion (only character by character conversion was supported in XP)

  • Korean Hangul to Hanja Word Conversion

  • User Dictionary updated to support Hangul to Hanja Word conversion

  • Add New Word Dialog Box for Hangul to Hanja Conversion

  • Stroke input for Hanja added to IME Pad

  • Radical input for Hanja added to IME Pad

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Handwriting Recognition

Besides keyboard layouts and East Asian IMEs, Windows Vista has added handwriting recognition as a built-in tool. Not only is this available for Tablet PCs, but is also found in the desktop and laptop versions of the operating system. Thus if you have some type of pen input device, you have access to handwriting input. In fact, you can use your mouse as rudimentary input device for Windows Vista.

 

Japanese Hand Writing Input Tool

Figure 2: Japanese Handwriting Input on an English Windows Vista

Every version of Vista has access to the following handwriting recognition engines:

Chinese (Simplified)FrenchKorean
Chinese (Traditional)GermanPortuguese
EnglishItalianSpanish
DutchJapanese 

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Speech Recognition

Windows Speech Recognition, a new feature in Windows Vista, lets you interact with your computer using your voice. It was designed for people who want to use their mouse and keyboard less, while maintaining—or even increasing—their overall productivity. It allows you to dictate documents and e-mails in commonly used programs, and use voice commands to start and switch between applications, control the operating system, and even fill out forms on the web.

Windows Speech Recognition adapts to your speaking style and vocabulary, so the accuracy with which Windows Vista recognizes your speech improves each time you use it. Windows Vista supports speech recognition in a number of languages:

Languages recognized by Windows Vista speech recognition feature
Chinese(Simplified)GermanUK English
Chinese(Traditional)JapaneseUS English
FrenchSpanish 

All of the speech recognition engines do not come with all language versions of Windows Vista. They are only available on their corresponding language version of Windows Vista.

Besides speech recognition, Windows Vista has a text-to-speech program (or basic screen reader) called the Narrator. Narrator reads menus without leaving the active window. Individuals who use Narrator will find a more pleasant, natural sounding voice in Windows Vista than the Windows XP technology. Not only does the Narrator read English it can also read Simplified Chinese text, but this feature only comes on the Simplified Chinese version of Windows Vista.

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Display Format for Dates, Time, Numbers, Currency, Etc.

Besides the scripts and fonts, locale support (sort tables, format for dates, time, numbers, currency) for 35 new locales has been added to Windows Vista. These locales can be accessed via the Control Panel’s Clock, Language and Region section.

Note that the naming syntax in the following table uses this format: language ([script,] country/region).

New locales in Windows Vista
Alsatian (France)Hausa (Latin, Nigeria)Spanish (United States)
Amharic (Ethiopia)Igbo (Nigeria)Tajik (Cyrillic, Tajikistan)
Assamese (India)Inuktitut (Syllabics, Canada)Tamazight (Latin, Algeria)
Bashkir (Russia)Khmer (Cambodia)Tibetan (PRC)
Bengali (Bangladesh)K\'iche (Guatemala)Turkmen (Turkmenistan)
Breton (France)Kinyarwanda (Rwanda)Uighur (PRC)
Corsican (France)Lao (Lao P.D.R.)Upper Sorbian (Germany)
Dari (Afghanistan)Lower Sorbian (Germany)Wolof (Senegal)
English (India)Mongolian (Traditional Mongolian, PRC)Yakut (Russia)
English (Malaysia)Occitan (France)Yi (PRC)
English (Singapore)Oriya (India)Yoruba (Nigeria)
Greenlandic (Greenland)Sinhala (Sri Lanka) 

 

Tibetian Sort Order Example

Figure 3:Example of Tibetan sort order showing the appropriate sort of Tibetan numbers -> Latin characters -> Tibetan text (Note the first Tibetan string is a number)

Not only does Windows Vista introduce these new locales, it also includes all of the post Windows XP support mentioned above for 36 more locales added to Windows XP via Service Pack 2 (25 locales) and an update to Service Pack 2 (11 locales):

Windows XP Service Pack 2 Locales
Bengali (India)Quechua (Bolivia)Sami, Northern (Sweden)
Bosnian (Latin, Bosnia and Herzegovina)Quechua (Ecuador)Sami, Skolt (Finland)
Croatian (Latin, Bosnia and Herzegovina)Quechua (Peru)Sami, Southern (Norway)
isiXhosa (South Africa) SamiSami, Inari (Finland)Sami, Southern (Sweden)
isiZulu (South Africa)Sami, Lule (Norway)Serbian (Cyrillic, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Malayalam (India)Sami, Lule (Sweden)Serbian (Latin, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Maltese (Malta) SamiSami, Northern (Finland)Sesotho sa Leboa (South Africa)
Maori (New Zealand)Sami, Northern (Norway)Setswana (South Africa)
  Welsh (United Kingdom)

These locales are available as part of the Windows XP SP2 download.

Windows XP Service Pack 2 Update Locales
Bosnian (Cyrillic, Bosnia and Herzegovina)Irish (Ireland)Nepali (Nepal)
Filipino (Philippines)Luxembourgish (Luxembourg)Pashto (Afghanistan)
Frisian (Netherlands)Mapudungun (Chile)Romansh (Switzerland)
Inuktitut (Latin, Canada)Mohawk (Mohawk) 

These locales are available as part of the SP2 Update to Windows XP.

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Unattended Setup for Locales

One other way the access to locales has been expanded in Windows Vista is via the Unattended Regional and Language Options component. This allows network administrators to set and change regional and language options without using the Control Panel. Although earlier versions of Windows had a limited number of international settings for previous versions of Windows, see http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=289125, this new Windows Vista component opens up more access to locale information. With this feature you can:

  • Change and customize formats of numbers, currency, time, dates, and sorting.

  • Change display language preference.

  • Change location preference.

  • Add and remove keyboards.

  • Add and remove input method editors.

  • Change language for non-Unicode programs (system locale).

  • Copy the international settings to Reserved Accounts (local service, network service, local system, and new users).

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Access to Multiple Languages for the User Interface

Multilingual User Interface (MUI)

As stated at the beginning of this article, one of the main international features of Windows Vista is its ability to allow the text of the operating system to be displayed in multiple languages. This allows large corporations to roll out the same worldwide image with a single install job. Local users can then select the user interface language or it can be set by Group Policy for Organizational Units.

It also allows different language users to share the same workstation or roaming users to take their localized user interface from one workstation to another. For instance, one user might choose to see system menus, dialogs and other text in Japanese, while another user logging onto the same system might prefer to see the corresponding text in French.

MUI functionality started with Windows 2000. Microsoft introduced the MUI technology and the Windows MUI Pack. Installed on top of an English-language Windows operating system, the MUI pack implements the MUI technology and provides an MUI version of the operating system. The MUI operating system version allows users to set the user interface language according to their preferences, provided that resources for the required languages have been added to the operating system. This technology was only available to enterprises and OEMS and was not sold as a retail product (to learn more about MUI technology, see Microsoft’s MUI FAQ).

Beginning with Windows Vista, all Windows operating system versions are enhanced with the latest MUI technology. Even if an operating system has only single-language localization support, the MUI technology is still working to provide user interface localization. Speaking of localization support, where as Windows XP sold in 24 different languages, Windows Vista is sold in 35 different languages, as follows.

Windows Vista languages
ArabicEnglishJapaneseSerbian - Latin
Brazilian PortugueseEstonianKoreanSlovak
BulgarianFinnishLatvianSlovenian
Chinese – SimplifiedFrenchLithuanianSpanish
Chinese – TraditionalGermanNorwegian - BokmålSwedish
CroatianGreekPolishThai
CzechHebrewPortugueseTurkish
DanishHungarianRomanianUkrainian
DutchItalianRussian 

There actually is a 36th language version: there is a Chinese - Traditional version for Hong Kong that is set to handle the Hong Kong encoding HKSCS character set.

As long as you have either the Windows Vista Enterprise or Windows Vista Ultimate versions, one or more MUI packs can be added on top of any language system of Windows Vista. Unlike Windows XP, you no longer need to have the English version to have MUI functionality.

This means that for the first time users have a solution for the age old question, “My computer’s operating system’s language is in German, but I don’t speak German. I speak Japanese. How can I convert my system to Japanese?” The answer is one of two possibilities. If you bought Windows Vista Ultimate, then all you need to do is load the Japanese MUI language module. If you bought something other than Windows Vista Ultimate, then first upgrade to the German version of Windows Vista Ultimate and then load the Japanese MUI language module.

To learn more, see Windows Vista Supported Language Packs.

Language Interface Packs (LIPs)

Although Windows Vista MUIs provide a translated version of most of the user interface and require a license to be used, Windows Vista has another feature built upon the MUI technology to allow it to be used by more people in their own language. This feature is called Windows Vista Language Interface Pack (LIP).

The difference between MUI packs and Windows Vista LIPs is the LIPs provide a translated version of the most widely used areas of the user interface. Although this is about 20% of the UI, it still covers about 80% of most users’ experiences. Also, LIPs are freely available for download, and most LIPs can be installed and used on any edition of Windows Vista: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate.

Because the entire user interface is not translated, LIPs require at least one parent language. The parts of the user interface that are not translated into the LIP language are displayed in the parent language. When you download a LIP, you are given the parent language requirements for that LIP. The parent language pack needs to be installed before the LIP can be installed. Although a parent language is needed, it does not need to be English. Several of the LIP languages require other languages as their parent language (e.g., the Catalan LIP’s parent language is Spanish). Windows Vista will have 61 different LIP languages:

LIP languages in Windows Vista
AfrikaansGujaratiKyrgyzPunjabi (Gurmukhi)
AlbanianHausaLaoQuechua
AmharicHindiLuxembourgishSerbian (Cyrillic)
ArmenianIcelandicMacedonian (FYROM)Sesotho sa Leboa
AssameseIgboMalay (Brunei Darussalam)Setswana
Azeri (Latin)IndonesianMalay (Malaysia)Sinhala
BasqueInukitut (Syllabics)MalayalamTamil
BelarusianIrishMalteseTatar
Bengali (Bangladesh)isiXhosaMaoriTelugu
Bengali (India)isiZuluMarathiUrdu
Bosnian (Cyrillic)KannadaNepaliUzbek (Latin)
Bosnian (Latin)KazakhNorwegian (Nynorsk)Vietnamese
CatalanKinyarwandaOriyaWelsh
FilipinoKiswahiliPashtoWolof
GalicianKonkaniPersianYoruba
Georgian   

To learn more, see Supported Language Interface Packs (Windows Vista).

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Different Functionality for Different Regions

Along with locales, Windows Vista has several other functions that support different regions of the world. The following is list of some of these functions:

  • Different Word Breakers – Windows Vista indexes directories, files, and some file contents to allow for quicker searches. These indexes are based on words that the OS finds in the scanned data. Since the OS can be in more languages other than English, it has several linguistic related word breakers to process the text correctly. Windows Vista has 44 different word breakers build into the system. They are:

  • Word breakers in Windows Vista
    ArabicBengaliBulgarianCatalan
    Chinese – SimplifiedChinese – TraditionalCroatianDutch
    EnglishFrenchGermanGujarati
    HebrewHindiIcelandicIndonesian
    ItalianJapaneseKannadaKorean
    LatvianLithuanianMalayMalayalam
    MarathiNeutralNorwegianPortuguese
    Portuguese BrazilPunjabiRomanianRussian
    Serbian CyrillicSerbian LatinSlovakSlovenian
    SpanishSwedishTamilTelugu
    ThaiUkrainianUrduVietnamese
  • Diacritic-sensitive search – By default, Windows Vista treats accented characters as if they had no diacritic marks (e.g. François is the same as Francois). In the Indexing and Search Options Advanced Options, you can set the search to treat these two words as different via the diacritic-sensitive search.

  • New calendar for Saudi Arabia – The Um Al Qura (Arabic lunar) calendar was added for broader Arabic calendar support.

  • Support for multiple clocks – Knowing that many people not only deal with their own time zone but have interactions with people who live in different time zones, Windows Vista allows you to display up to two more clocks based on different time zones when you mouse over the time displayed in the Task bar.

  • Multiple Time Zone Clocks

  • International Domain Names – The Internet community has added broader functionality to allow web address that contain non-English characters. This functionality, called International Domain Names (IDNs), allows websites to display their address using their native language and character set. This functionality has been added to both Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7.0. Thus you can now have web addresses that look like this:

    International Domain Names Example

    With the broadening functionality introduced by IDNs, as well as other Internet features, comes the increase of possibility of more scams as well. IDNs make it possible for letters and symbols in some languages to be used to impersonate English language websites for phishing scams. For security purposes, Internet Explorer 7 displays International Domain Name web address in a standard ASCII text encoding by default (see below).

    International Domain Names ASCII Text Display

    If you frequently visit websites that are written in languages that you cannot currently view, you can install support for additional languages in Internet Explorer. When the message above appears on the Information bar, click Change language settings, and follow the prompts on your screen.

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What about Developers?

Although this article does not have room to expand upon the enhancements that Windows Vista has added to its infrastructure to support creating international solutions, there are improvements that provide a more consistent Win32/managed development model. Several areas that will be covered, in other articles, are:

  • Better Win32 LCTYPE matching to the .NET Framework properties

  • Win32 APIs created to use IETF language tags (e.g. es-US) – before Windows Vista, this was only available in .NET Framework

  • Windows only (“synthetic”) cultures

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Summary

With the introduction of Windows Vista, the solutions to meet the needs of international users have been broadly expanded in these areas:

  • Display and creation of text in different languages
  • Options for display format of dates, time, numbers and currency
  • Access to different languages for the operating system UI (i.e,. system menus, dialog boxes, messages, etc.)
  • Different functionality for different regions

Plus, developers and IT professionals have richer foundation and platform to create and deploy international solutions for their own customers and users as well.

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