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Frequently Asked Questions

Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000 MUI

Microsoft first introduced the Multilingual User Interface Technology for Windows 2000 Professional as "Windows 2000 Professional Multilanguage Version," which was later extended to the Windows 2000 Server family. This technology is now available for Windows XP Professional, Windows Server 2003 editions, Windows XP Embedded, and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. This technology is now called Multilingual User Interface Pack, referred to as MUI.

General QuestionsGeneral Questions
Windows XP QuestionsWindows XP Questions
Windows Server 2003 QuestionsWindows Server 2003 Questions
Installation and Administration QuestionsInstallation and Administration Questions
Programming QuestionsProgramming Questions


General Questions

Multilingual User Interface Pack is a set of language specific resource files that can be added to the English version of Windows Professional. When installed on the English version of Windows, MUI allows the user interface language of the operating system to be changed according to the preferences of individual users to one of the 33 supported 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.

MUI 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 was introduced in the Windows 2000 timeframe and is available for:

  • Windows 2000 Professional
  • Windows 2000 Server family (often implemented in a Terminal Services environment)
  • Windows XP Professional
  • Windows XP for Tablet PC
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows XP Embedded

MUI is not supported on consumer versions of Windows such as Windows 9x, Windows Me, and Windows XP Home Edition.

MUI is intended to help reduce the Total Cost of Ownership for corporations operating in an international, multilingual environment. Typically three scenarios would support that cost reduction:

  • Companies can roll out the English version of Windows with MUI worldwide without having to maintain different language versions. The local user can then select the user interface language, or the administrator can set it through a Group Policy. Hot Fixes and Service Packs will also be available at the same time for a worldwide simultaneous rollout.
  • Help Desk (or other support personnel) can set the workstation to English, or any other UI language, to more easily find problems. After fixing the problem the workstation can be set to the original UI language. For customers using Windows Server, MUI allows use of the English product worldwide and enables network administrators to administer the server in their native language.
  • MUI is controlled at the user level, and thus allows for customer scenarios whereby a single workstation is shared by multiple part-time or roaming employees. This also applies to Terminal Services scenario where each user can get a different user interface language depending on their preference.

Yes, although functionally there is little difference. A Windows system with MUI will largely look and behave like the localized version, with some exceptions. MUI runs on top of the English version of Windows. From a feature and architectural point of view, localized versions of Windows are the same as English Windows XP. However, on localized versions:

  • The user interface resources are fully localized.
  • The Windows Setup information, such as system locale, user locale, keyboard layout, etc. is customized for the specific language/country. This is a policy setting with the Multilingual User Interface Pack.
  • Additional country specific device drivers are added in the East Asian versions only.
  • There is support for upgrades from localized versions of Windows 9X or Windows 2000 to localized Windows XP. MUI only supports upgrades from English versions.

Because the resources used in a localized version are used to create MUI, there is no difference between the actual translations. This results in a nearly full localization, apart from small elements that are still dependent on:

  • INF files.
  • UI strings stored in the registry.
  • ANSI components such as Hyperterminal.
  • 16-bit applications in ANSI format.

The percentage of localization coverage in Windows 2000 with MUI is about 90%. In Windows 2000 with MUI, there are many visible strings that appear in English. One of the most noticeable areas is the Start Menu. This is because the Start Menu is populated directly using the file names of folders and link files created at setup time. They appear in English even if you are running on a MUI system with Japanese user interface, as English was the original installation language.

This has been changed in Windows XP and results in a much higher localized experience for the system user. Much of the additional localized coverage in Windows XP is achieved through "MUI-enabling" Windows XP system modules and applications, specifically by:

  • Transferring user interface strings from the registry to Windows resource files.
  • Removing user interface strings from the kernel.
  • Using the MUI-enabled shell to display localized strings for Start menu items, desktop shortcuts, shell menu items, file type names and shell verbs (the shell's right-click menu items).
  • Making Windows services impersonate the current interactive user instead of the system default when displaying the user interface.
  • Barring the use of hard-coded file paths when loading resource files including Help files, so that an alternate resource path can be used to load the resource file.
  • Providing special code in each component to install and load the user interface resource if a non-traditional Win-32 resource is used (such as XML- or HTML-based resources).

Implementing these changes for Windows XP Multilingual User Interface Pack resulted in much higher localization quality and makes a big difference in the user experience. A system running MUI also requires more disk space to store the additional resources files.

MUI is an add-on to the English version of Windows XP Professional and Windows 2000 family of operating systems, and will not install on localized versions of Windows XP/2000 or on Windows XP Home Edition. Every additional language installed will require approximately 115 MB extra disk space for Windows XP, 45MB for Windows 2000; East Asian language support requires an additional 250 MB.

The Windows XP/2000 MUI is sold only through Volume Licensing programs such as the Microsoft Open License Program (MOLP/Open), Select, and Enterprise agreement (or with a new computer as an OEM version at customer request). It is not available through retail channels.

If you are an Open License customer, please see your reseller for the content list of your kit.

To find MUI in your Select/Enterprise kits, go to Microsoft Licensing Web site. Click the Shipment Content List link and download the Shipment Content List for the month of your choice. Decompress the file and open it. The list is in Microsoft Excel format.

Windows MUI has been deployed and well received by major corporations such as Allergan, BMW, GE Capital IT Solutions, and Siemens.

Yes and No. You should definitely think about providing similar functionality in your product, but you should not rely on the technology in the Windows 2000 MultiLanguage Version to switch the user interface language for you. Only a percentage of all Windows XP and Windows 2000 installations will be MUI-based. If you rely on the MUI technology, you will prevent customers without MUI from switching the language of the user interface. Furthermore, Windows XP and Windows 2000 are released in 24 localized versions, including English. Other products might have a different language matrix and offer more or fewer localized versions.

If you want to enable your product to switch the user interface language, you should consider using satellite resource DLLs. For more information, see F. Avery Bishop's article in the April 1999 edition of Microsoft Systems Journal, or the Writing Multilingual User Interface Applications article on this site.

Office MUI is a separate product that enables the same functionality as Windows MUI, but for Office applications. It has its own separate setup/installation and Service Packs. Installing Windows MUI does not automatically allow you to switch user interface languages in Microsoft Office. For more information about Office MUI, see the Office System 2007 technical libary or the Office 2003 MUI Pack information at Office Online.

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Windows XP Questions

Windows XP MUI addresses key issues raised by customers over Windows 2000 MUI. Enhancements include:

  • A more extensively localized user interface than Windows 2000 MUI that includes localized folder and file names. Users will see more information in their particular language.
  • Better application compatibility: To ensure improved application compatibility, during MUISetup.exe, the administrator is given the opportunity to change the System Locale to match that of the Default User locale and use the system font of the selected Default User locale.

No. MUI is a feature that is available only on the Professional edition of Windows XP.

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Windows Server 2003 Questions

Windows Server 2003 MUI is on par with Windows XP MUI. Enhancements over Windows 2000 Server MUI include:

  • A more extensively localized user interface than Windows 2000 MUI that includes localized folder and file names. Users will see more information in their particular language.
  • For Server 2003, the performance monitor is MUI-enabled.
  • The language of the counters and the bubble Help display in the current user UI. Also, the MUI CD will include a MUI package for the .NET Framework resources.
  • A localized console when the user interface is set to an East Asian language. (Not available for Arabic or Hebrew MUI.)
  • Better application compatibility: To ensure improved application compatibility, during MUISetup.exe, the administrator is given the opportunity to change the System Locale to match that of the Default User locale and use the system font of the selected Default User locale.

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Installation and Administration Questions

Multilingual User Interface Resource Files are only sold as a bundle with the English version of Windows to make absolutely sure customers have the English version of the OS when installing MUI.

The Windows XP bundle consists of 6 CDs, one containing the base operating system in English, plus 5 CDs containing the Multilingual User Interface files. The Windows 2000 bundle includes 3 CDs, one containing the base Windows 2000 Professional and the other two containing MUI files. After completing setup of the base English OS from CD1, run the program MUISETUP.EXE from any of the resource CDs to install the required User Interface Languages. MUISETUP.EXE can also be run from a network share.

You can upgrade to MUI from the English versions of the following platforms. Upgrades can only be performed from the English versions of these systems. In order to install MUI on a non-English system, it will be necessary to do a clean install.

PlatformProfessional MultiLanguage VersionServer MultiLanguage VersionAdvanced Server MultiLanguage Version
PlatformMultilingual User Interface Pack for: Windows XP/2000 ProfessionalMultilingual User Interface Pack for: Windows 2000 ServerMultilingual User Interface Pack for: Windows 2000 Advanced Server
Windows 3.xN/AN/AN/A
Windows for WorkgroupsN/AN/AN/A
Windows NT 3.51 WorkstationCan only upgrade to Win2000 MUINoNo
Windows NT 4.0 WorkstationYesNoNo
Windows 95YesNoNo
Windows 98YesNoNo
Windows 2000 ProfessionalYesNoNo
Windows NT Server 3.51NoYesYes
Windows NT Server 4.0NoYesYes
Windows 2000 ServerNoYesNo
Windows NT Terminal Server 4.0NoYesYes
Windows NT Enterprise Edition 4.0NoNoYes
Windows 2000 Advanced ServerNoNoYes


Naturally, in an upgrade from any edition of Windows 2000 Server MUI, the corresponding edition of Windows Server 2003 MUI is supported.

UI languages can be easily added or removed using MUISetup.exe, the installation tool. The tool is very similar to the Regional Options control panel, and can be used by administrators to select which of the available languages to add or remove.

Select the appropriate menus and dialogs language from the Regional Options applet in Control Panel. The menus and dialogs drop-down list will display all the installed languages. For more details, see Regional and Language Options overview. Note that the user interface language is a per-user setting.

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Programming questions

Use the API GetUserDefaultUILanguage. The API will return the LANGID of the user selection. If MUI is not installed, the returned LANGID equals the InstallLanguage of the system. For more details see our list of New Windows language specific APIs.

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