Windows has become the essential platform for all customers worldwide. International users expect solutions that are adapted to their languages and regions around the world, and rely upon IT professionals to deliver them. Building on the capabilities of Windows Vista, the Windows 7 platform offers rich core globalization support features that are easy to use and enable you to provide more diverse capabilities for a broader range of international customers.
This article provides an overview of the new core language enablement features in Windows 7 and the key advances in Windows globalization infrastructure. It also describes how and where IT professionals can leverage these new features for their international customers.
We’re very excited to share these compelling new features with you, and we hope you’ll try them out and let us know what you think.
Windows 7 will allow IT Professionals to offer their international users additional locales and scripts, and increased ability to change operating system text among languages. The solutions they deploy can also make available the enhancements described in the section "What New Features Will Users See?" IT pros will also be able to more easily deploy worldwide desktops, and create command line scripts to configure international settings.
Building on Windows Vista, Windows 7 offers the ability to seamlessly change the text of the operating system among several languages. Improved deployment tools allow large corporations to roll out worldwide desktops with a single installation script. The user interface language can then be set by local users or by Group Policy for Organizational Units.
Windows 7 multilingual support also allows different users to share the same workstation while using their preferred language. 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. In addition, roaming users can take their localized user interface from one workstation to another.
As was the case with Windows Vista, all Windows 7 operating system versions are built on the MUI technology which is used to select and load the language-sensitive part of the system’s user interface. This is the case whether the edition of Windows 7 supports a single user interface language or supports multiple UI languages.
In terms of localization support, Windows 7 supports the same set of languages as Vista and is available in the 35 following languages:
Windows 7 languages
Serbian - Latin
Chinese – Simplified
Chinese – Traditional
Norwegian - Bokmål
Note that there are two Chinese - Traditional versions, one for Taiwan and one for Hong Kong. The version for Hong Kong is set to handle the Hong Kong encoding HKSCS character set.
In addition to localized versions, language packs are also available to change the language of a machine dynamically. The Window 7 installation process has been streamlined, making it easier and faster. Windows 7 Language packs can be installed on any language edition of Windows 7 as long as they are the Windows 7 Enterprise or Windows 7 Ultimate versions. In this case, you can install multiple language packs on the system and users sharing the system can use Windows in their favorite language.
To learn more, see Available Language Packs .
For your developers, Windows 7 offers a rich set of concepts and APIs to select language settings and define resource loading logic in a way compatible with the system behavior. This support enables application developers to leverage the MUI infrastructure to create Win32-based multilingual applications following the best practices in Windows 7, and to provide the end user with a user language experience seamlessly integrated with the OS behavior. For more information, see the MUI SDK .
As was the case in Vista, Windows 7 will continue to enable the widest range of people across the world to use Windows 7 in their own language using Language Interface Packs. LIPs are built on the MUI technology and provide localization of the UI most commonly used by Windows users. LIPs do not require a license and can be downloaded for free to be installed on any edition of Windows 7: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate.
Because the entire user interface is not translated, LIPs require that at least one parent language be present on the machine in order to be installed. After the LIP is installed and selected as the user interface language, the parts of the user interface that are not translated into the LIP language are displayed in the parent language. Some LIP languages allow more than one language as parent language. For example, the Catalan LIP can be installed if the Spanish language pack or the French language pack is already installed on the system. The parent language requirements are specified on each LIP download page. Windows 7 will have 64 different LIP languages:
|LIP languages in Windows 7|
|Armenian||Hindi||Macedonian (FYROM)||Sesotho sa Leboa|
|Assamese||Icelandic||Malay (Brunei Darussalam)||Setswana|
|Azeri (Latin)||Igbo||Malay (Malaysia)||Sinhala|
To learn more, see Available language packs.
It is possible to configure international settings from the command line using an extension of the Regional and Languages Options Control Panel. The Windows 7 Command Line Configuration of International Settings allows network administrators to set and change regional and language options without using the Control Panel.
The Vista and Windows 7 command line configuration of international settings are described in this article:
With this feature you can:
Your international users will receive a number of enhancements to their font experience, and will see better text display. There is also handwriting recognition for additional languages, improved speech recognition, and some additional keyboard layouts.
Windows 7 d eliver s a number of enhancements to the way users experience fonts . T he font management infrastructure supports the hiding of fonts which are not appropriate for a user’s font-selection lists. The default system settings will choose to auto-hide fonts which are not designed for the input language(s) (keyboards) enabled on the OS. This feature means users need no longer be faced with long lists of inappropriate fonts, and is particularly valuable for international users working in non-Latin scripts.
The ChooseFont dialog is one example of implementing support for the hiding of fonts from font-selection lists. In Windows 7, applications that implement the ChooseFont dialog, such as Notepad, will display a shorter font list , as ChooseFont filters out all fonts set to “Hide”.
In addition, ChooseFont lists fonts base d on a more typographic font-family model whereby fonts that are variations in weight, width, or slope (WWS) are combined in a single family. Instead of list ing Arial, Arial Black and Arial Narrow in the font list, for instance, the Windows 7 ChooseFont dialog lists only Arial in the font list and put s all extended Arial styles in the Font Style list.
This is what the ChooseFont dialog in Notepad looks like in Windows 7:
The Fonts Control Panel has a new look in Windows 7. Fonts are listed based on the WWS font family name, rather than showing an entry for each individual font face (regular, italic, etc). Font previews are shown in the file icon using the script the font is designed for. Also, a new basic properties pane is added to show additional information about the font.
This is what the Fonts Control Panel looks like in Windows 7:
The Fonts Control Panel not only indicates which fonts are hidden, but also allows users to manually show or hide fonts. Additional information about the fonts, such as the writing script it is designed for, font category, and the designer/foundry that created the font can be shown in the detail view. The Fonts Control Panel also adds a new link for users to get more font information online .
This is what the Fonts Control Panel looks like when listing fonts in the details view in Windows 7:
Windows 7 introduces the Windows Scenic Ribbon which comes with a set of controls targeted to font selection. These font controls support the new Windows 7 font hiding behavior as well as providing a link to the fonts control panel to quickly show and hide other fonts.
This shows WordPad listing fonts with font controls in the Ribbon in Windows 7:
In Windows 7, support for 10 new scripts is added : Braille, Deseret, New Tai Lue, Ogham, Osmanya, Phags-pa, Runic, Symbols, Tai Le and Tifinagh. There is also new added support for Unicode variation-selector sequences using Open Type fonts with format 14 in cmap subtable in Microsoft Phags Pa and Cambria Math fonts . In addition, Windows 7 adds many new fonts .
This list s the new fonts and the corresponding supported scripts:
Aparajita, Aparajita Bold, Aparajita Bold Italic, Aparajita Italic
Ebrima, Ebrima Bold
N’Ko, Vai, Tifinagh, Osmanya
Latin, Greek, Cyrillic
Iskoola Pota Bold
Khmer UI, Khmer UI Bold
Kokila, Kokila Bold, Kokila Bold Italic, Kokila Italic
Lao UI, Lao UI Bold
Meiryo UI, Meiryo UI Bold, Meiryo UI Bold Italic, Meiryo UI Italic
Microsoft New Tai Lue, Microsoft New Tai Lue Bold
New Tai Lue
Microsoft PhagsPa, Microsoft PhagsPa Bold
Microsoft Tai Le, Microsoft Tai Le Bold
Sakkal Majalla, Sakkal Majalla Bold
Segoe UI Light, Segoe UI Semi Bold
Latin, Greek, Cyrillic
Segoe UI Symbol
Ogham, Runic, Braille, Deseret
Shonar Bangla, Shonar Bangla Bold
Utsaah, Utsaah Bold, Utsaah Bold Italic, Utsaah Italic
Vani, Vani Bold
Vijaya, Vijaya Bold
These new fonts are added not only for the new script support, but also for better text display quality—especially better UI display. For instance, for bold texts the true bold font provides better text display than the simulated bold.
This is an example of text display in simulated bold versus true bold:
Besides the new added fonts, there are many updates for existing fonts in Windows 7. This includes adding Unicode 5.1 support, adding Armenian glyphs into Tahoma font, and adding Vietnamese glyphs into Candara, Constantia, Corbel, Calibri, Cambria and Consolas fonts. Windows 7 makes numerous changes in the Meiryo font (Japanese font), such as adding more kanji characters into the font, adjustments for thousands of characters to make them more legible at small sizes (particularly when viewed on a computer), adding hinting improvement, and height normalization (which makes a horizontal line of text look straight).
Another example of font updates in Windows 7 is the changes and improvements made for Arabic fonts, such as adding Latin characters into the font, fixing Lam Alif ligature problem, better mark positioning, introducing OpenType kerning, and ligature replacement in some additional cases.
This is an example of fixing Lam Alif ligature problem in Windows 7:
This shows the better mark positioning, OpenType kerning and ligature replacement for Arabic script in Windows 7:
In Windows Vista, handwriting recognition was supported for eight Latin languages (English (US and UK), German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Brazilian Portuguese) and four East Asian languages (Japanese, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), and Korean). For Windows 7, fourteen additional languages are supported. New handwriting recognizers will be available for these additional languages: Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk), Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Polish, Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Serbian (Cyrillic and Latin), Catalan, Russian, Czech, and Croatian.
|New Handwriting recognizers in Windows 7|
|Danish||Norwegian (Bokmal and Nynorsk),||Swedish|
Windows Vista Home Premium customers could do handwriting recognition in up to 12 languages. In Windows 7 they will only get recognition for whatever Language Packs are installed (normally one language) and have no options for additional languages other than upgrading to Enterprise or Ultimate.
Home Premium customers will get the handwriting recognizer that corresponds to the language of their OS; i.e., a Swedish customer running Swedish Windows 7 will be able to use the Swedish handwriting recognizer. Enterprise and Ultimate customers can deploy additional recognizers by downloading the desired Language Packs and enabling the respective keyboards. The English recognizer is available to all Tablet PC customers on all SKUs.
New handwriting recognizers enable more people around the world to take advantage of handwriting recognition. If you have some type of pen input device, you have access to handwriting input. In fact, you can use your mouse as a rudimentary input device.
Customers can launch the TIP (Tablet Input Panel), ink in their desired language for which a recognizer is available, and insert the converted, recognized text into applications such as Word or Outlook.
Personalization can be used to improve handwriting recognition. Customers choose the Personlization wizard from the Tools Menu:
In Vista, Personalization for handwriting recognition was supported only for US and UK English for the Latin languages. For Windows 7, six additional Latin languages, for which base recognizers shipped in Vista, will receive the benefits of the Personalization features. Additionally, Personalization will ship for all 14 of the new Windows 7 languages. Personalization has been proven to improve the user’s handwriting experience significantly as the recognizer learns how the user writes and what the user writes.
Customers who choose to personalize their recognizer will notice a significant improvement in handwriting recognition accuracy.
Windows Speech Recognition, a feature in Windows 7, lets users interact with the computer using their 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 them 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 the user’s speaking style and vocabulary, so the accuracy with which Windows recognizes speech improves each time it is used. Windows supports speech recognition in a number of languages:
|Languages recognized by Windows speech recognition feature|
|Chinese (Simplified)||German||UK English|
|Chinese (Traditional)||Japanese||US English|
Not all of the speech recognition engines come with all language versions of Windows 7. They are only available on their corresponding language version of Windows.
In Windows 7, one of the main focus areas for the Speech Recognition feature has been to improve user experience. Dictation into TSF-unaware applications works much better than it did before. Now, when the user dictates into an TSF- unaware application, the dictation scratchpad appears.
Besides speech recognition, both Windows Vista and Windows 7 have 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 7 than in 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 7 and Windows Vista.
This table lists all of the new keyboard layouts added to Windows 7
New keyboard layouts in Windows 7
Bulgarian (Phonetic Traditional)
Sesotho sa Leboa
Chinese(Simplified, Singapore) – US Keyboard
Chinese(Traditional, Hong Kong S.A.R.) – US Keyboard
Chinese(Traditional Macao S.A.R.) – US Keyboard
Besides the enhancements to scripts and fonts, locale support (sort tables, format for dates, time, numbers, and currency) for five new locales has been added to Windows 7. 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 7|
|Scottish Gaelic (United Kingdom)|
|Serbian (Cyrillic, Serbia)|
|Serbian (Cyrillic, Serbia and Montenegro (Former))|
|Serbian (Latin, Serbia)|
|Serbian (Latin, Serbia and Montenegro (Former))|
To create globalized applications, developers can leverage the various new foundational features and the improvements to existing features that are built into Windows 7. To further enable developers to create globalized applications that work for a broad range of international customers we have made infrastructure improvements to provide a more consistent Win32/managed development model. See the following articles and reference material for additional information:
Extended Linguistic Services are of particular interest to developers who are looking for additional natural language features that allow them to go further in making their applications world-ready.
Developers want to bring their applications to new customers all over the world, which means that they need appropriate system features, first to discover what kind of language experience a particular user expects, and then to enable that experience in the most relevant possible way. Having information about the language and writing system that their customer is using can be crucial to their applications—they may want to provide help content in the relevant language, or guide the user to targeted advertising, or make smart font selection choices, or present just the set of options that will make the most sense for the user.
These advanced linguistic features are provided by the Extended Linguistic Services (ELS) Platform, new to Windows 7. It is a set of native APIs, plus a managed code wrapper that makes these services available for .NET development.
The ELS APIs were designed with two basic principles foremost in mind:
In Windows 7, ELS provides new services in
ELS script detection allows applications to detect the scripts in which text is written. The service supports everything in Unicode 5.1, and returns the detected Unicode script ranges with the Unicode-specified name of the associated writing system for each range.
Language Autodetection (LAD) is the most broadly requested and adopted feature of ELS to date. The high-level goal of our language detection service is to accept strings of text, analyze the text, and return the language of input. Identifying the language can be used to shape several aspects of the user experience within an application, including decisions on:
LAD includes coverage for nearly 100 different languages:
|Languages recognized by Windows 7 Language Autodetection|
|Azeri||Eastern Maninkakan||Inuktitut (Syllabics)||Oriya||Swedish|
|Bengali||Farsi||Kannada||Portuguese (Brazil)||Tai Nüa (=Dehong Dai)|
|Chinese (Simplified)||Gujarati||Limbu||Serbian (Latin)||Vietnamese|
|Chinese (Traditional)||Hausa||Lithuanian||Sesotho sa Leboa||Yoruba|
|Coptic||Hebrew||Lü (=Tai Lue)||Setswana||Yi|
There are cases where a script is not reliably associated with a particular language. In that event, LAD will return the following for the relevant script:
|Scripts (not associated with a language) returned by Windows 7 Language Autodetection|
|Cuneiform||Kayah Li||Ol Chiki||Saurashtra||Ugaritic|
|Cypriot syllabary||Lepcha||Old Italic||Shavian||Vai|
|Deseret||Linear B||Old Persian cuneiform||Sundanese|
The new transliteration functionality of ELS in Windows 7 maps equivalent text from one writing system to another. It makes it possible for users in different Chinese-speaking regions to share content with one another across linguistic boundaries. It also provides phonetic conversion from certain complex script systems to the Latin alphabet, making it possible for users to pronounce text in writing systems that are unfamiliar to them.
The initial mappings are listed here:
Windows 7 Automatic Transliteration
With the introduction of Windows 7, the solutions to meet the needs of international users have been broadly expanded in these areas:
We hope that you will try the new features that are described in this article and let us know what you think, so that we can continue to improve and build new features into the Windows platform that will support your needs.