Multilingual Input

Most language editions of Windows NT 3.x, like most language editions of Windows 3.x, support only one systemwide keyboard layout per user at a time. To change keyboard layouts, the user has to use the International icon in Control Panel (see Chapter 5, Figure 5-6 in the topic "Default User and System Locals"), select a keyboard layout from a long list of choices, and restart the system. This is a limited and inconvenient process for users who wish to enter multiple languages in a single document because users prefer to use—and sometimes must use—the native keyboard layout associated with the language they want to enter. For example, you need to install the Russian keyboard layout in order to type Russian text because the English keyboard layout doesn't contain any Cyrillic characters. Users need the ability, then, to switch between different keyboard layouts when typing in different languages.

Many computer users in Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East create documents in at least two languages that use completely different character sets, and this has affected the design of Central and Eastern European and Middle Eastern editions of Windows 3.1 and the international English edition of Windows NT 3.x. For example, users in North Africa often create documents in Arabic and French, and users in Hungary often create documents in Hungarian and Russian. For these editions of Windows, the development teams added the ability to install two default keyboard layouts as well as two code pages and two sets of fonts, and the ability to switch between these layouts at any time using a hot-key combination. The developers have modified and greatly expanded this design for Windows 95.