Overview of Windows XP International Support
With built-in support for over 60 scripts, hundreds of languages, and 126 locales, every language version (and each flavor) of Windows 2000 provides unprecedented support for international and multilingual computing. Above all, the international feature set of Windows 2000 satisfies two key customer requirements by:
Windows XP expanded this global support and brought multilingual computing support into the client space and home computing.
This two-part article highlights the international and multilingual functionality of Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Part One provides a brief review of the international support in Windows 2000. Part Two highlights improvements in Windows XP and discusses the expanded feature list for use in a global solution.
Part One: Windows 2000 International Features
Single Worldwide Binary
All versions of Windows 2000 use the same executable code to run Win32 based applications. In fact, the only difference between these binaries from one language to another is in the translation of their resources.
This allows users to:
The single worldwide binary also benefits developers, who can:
Finally, IT managers benefit because they deal with fewer system differences from one language to another. This eases the maintenance and administration effort.
Multilingual computing is made possible by the native Unicode encoding (UTF-16 little-endian) and complete support for Unicode provided in Windows 2000. There is no more ANSI/OEM codepage dependency under Windows 2000! In fact, support for new scripts (such as the Indic family, Armenian, and Georgian) is added through pure Unicode encoding and no ANSI or OEM code pages are defined for these scripts. Hence, hundreds of languages are supported out of the box.
Complex Scripts Support
Several scripts, due to their linguistic requirements, need special handling when it comes to the layout and display of text electronically. A few of these challenges are:
Uniscribe, the layout and shaping engine for these scripts, is built into Windows 2000 and provides consistent support across its clients (Windows 2000, Microsoft Office 2000 and Office XP, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 and beyond). To learn more about Windows 2000 complex script support you can refer to: Multilanguage Text Support in Windows 2000.
Multilingual User Interface
The Windows 2000 Multilanguage Version (MUI) allows users to select the language of the User Interface (dialog boxes, menus, HTML help files etc).
To support MUI, changes were made in the system’s resource loader to load the right resource files for a given process based on the currently selected UI language. Users can install MUI resources files for all 24 languages in which Windows 2000 is localized. Resource files for each language require about 40 to 50 megabytes of disk space and give a little more than 90% localization of the user interface (versus 100% for a typical localized OS). MUI’s primary goal is to decrease the cost of implementing and maintaining IT environments with multiple languages. To learn more about MUI, you can refer to Microsoft’s FAQ related to this subject. You can also take advantage of MUI technology to offer your own multilingual UI solution
This technology was designed to allow a perfect right-to-left (RTL) look and feel of the User Interface (UI) for RTL languages such as Arabic and Hebrew. Because of the changes made in the system’s User and GDI , the creation of mirrored applications almost becomes a transparent job to developers. Only a few simple considerations are needed when creating Windows and mapping coordinates. To learn more about the mirroring technology you can refer to Microsoft’s globalization guidelines on mirroring.
To accommodate multilingual computing and to properly display text in a multilingual context, Windows 2000 introduced three new technologies:
The Windows 2000 National Language Support (NLS) APIs provide support for displaying regional and culturally-correct formatted data (calendar, currency symbol, date & time, sort tables etc.) for 126 locales.
Part Two: Windows XP Improvements
To summarize, the goals of the multilingual functionality in Windows XP are to:
Windows XP provides all of Windows 2000 multilingual experience to home users for the first time. For that matter, all flavors of Windows XP (Personal, Professional, and Server) provide the same level of international support.
Improved NLS Support
National Language Support (NLS) changes enlarged the already extensive list of covered locales.
Redesigned Regional Options Control Panel
Windows XP sports an extensively redesigned Regional and Language Options control panel that offers an improved user experience and integrates new international functionality. Changes to the UI, to the terminology, and to behavior are described below.
The Regional Options tab consolidates the system’s Regional settings, allowing users to:
The Languages tab offers all the system's language options. This page allows users to:
The Text Input Languages dialog box is invoked from the Details button on the Languages tab. This UI allows a better distinction between different installed input languages and input methods (keyboard layout, IME, Handwriting recognition, and speech).
The Advanced tab displays only when an administrator logs on. This tab allows administrators to:
The check box in the Default User Account Settings field allows administrators to configure the default user settings (applied to all new user accounts) with the current user settings.
Unattended Mode Installations
Windows XP Regional and Language Options control panel provides silent / unattended mode setup support through several defined keywords. This support enables the configuration of the system's various regional and language settings without displaying the user interface or requesting user interaction - all the configuration information is provided in a separate text file, called an "answer file". In unattended mode, setup reads from the answer file rather than from user input. Regional and language settings are specified in the answer file in the [RegionalSettings] section.
Modifications in Uniscribe
The Uniscribe engine now supports even more scripts:
Multilingual User Interface (MUI)
Windows XP with MUI Pack is closer to the localized experience than ever before.
Notice that the Windows XP MUI packages are distinct and separate SKUs for Professional, Server, Advanced Server, and Data Server editions. Also, the MUI feature is not available for Windows XP Personal edition.
Windows XP has even better multilingual support than Windows 2000, which was recognized to have set new standards in international computing industry. The additional international coverage in Windows XP includes: