Three Ways Windows 8 Improves Language Support | PCWorld Business Center

Three Ways Windows 8 Improves Language Support | PCWorld Business Center.  (No longer available online. Original text included below.)

Microsoft has included the ability to install additional display languages since Windows 2000. This made Windows computers accessible to billions of people, but installing and switching languages wasn’t easy, so businesses generally assigned only one language to a computer, limiting its use to those that understand the selected language. Windows 8, due in Beta before the end of February, changes the way languages are handled, making it easier for organizations with employees that speak multiple languages to share computers.

It’s not uncommon for businesses to have computers that are shared by workers, especially in companies that are open for multiple shifts. Tablets, which Windows 8 will also run on, are even more likely to be shared if used for tasks within a company. The Building Windows 8 blog details three ways Windows 8 will make sharing equipment easier by enabling workers to use their preferred display language.

1. Central Control

Where previous versions of Windows provided some languages through Windows Update, and others through the Microsoft Download Center, there is now one control panel to handle all language related options. This includes selecting your keyboard input language.  The control panel displays currently installed languages, and allows additional languages to be added. Choosing Add a Language provides a list of languages to select from that is filtered as you type. Selecting the language you want to add surprisingly doesn’t add it, you still need to go to an Options setting to Download and Install first, an unintuitive extra step. This is most likely required for businesses that have User Account Control enabled, and will need to have an administrator do the actual installation. 

[Image 1: Selecting from a filtered list of languages]

[Image 2: Downloading a language through the Languages control panel]

2. Ability to Switch

Once selected and installed, new languages appear in the list of the Languages control panel. Using the control panel, you can select the language you prefer to use, and set it as the Primary Language, which will be enabled on the next sign-in. You can also set the preferred input language in the same location. In the blog Ian Hamilton, a program manager for the Windows International team gives an example of selecting Hindi as the preferred language, and Hindi Traditional as the preferred input language. This allows workers to have a work environment customized to their native language while they are logged in, while still allowing others to use the device with their preferences as well.

[Image 3: Selecting a Primary Language from the list]

3. Additional Languages

Windows 8 adds 14 new languages to the 95 that were supported in Windows 7 for a “market leading” total of 109 languages. This provides native language support for over 4.5 billion people. Each language includes fonts, localized text, and input methods and must provide support for almost two million words as part of the overall user interface. In addition to the current US English “standalone” used by OEMs on new computers, there is now also a UK English option for locations where it is a more natural fit, like India, Australia, or South Africa. This standalone base language becomes the fallback language in cases where local resources aren’t available for the selected primary language.