Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Language Features in Windows 7

MS has announced that Windows 7 will be released in October. This blog article gives info on some of its improvements in the area of internationalization. Notable are a large number of new fonts and some 38 OS localizations.

This page lists the 150+ keyboard layouts apparently available.

OS X 10.6 is apparently staying with the 18 localizations available in 10.5.

9 comments:

alinde said...

Thanks mucho for this preview, Tom. I have been resisting Windows for years, but this just might do it for me. Muy interesante. Alinde OMalley

Andrew Main said...

Thanks for the link. Interesting reading, especially the comments; seems the Windows team are doing good work in some precise areas, while neglecting other important whole realms (such as non-US English). This is probably a non-representative sample, but there seems to be much unhappiness among Windows users.

Here is a site listing all the Windows 7ista fonts, with samples:
http://www.windows7update.com/Windows7fonts.html

The Aparajita set is striking, indeed; not surprising that's the one chosen to feature on the blog page. As with the Mac, some curious imbalances, e.g. an awful lot of barely distinguishable Thai fonts. Four Devanagari sets certainly beats Apple's lone font for that script. Pretty good coverage of other Indian scripts (far better than the Mac). The "50 new fonts" are somewhat padded with quite a few very obscure scripts. How many Windows users will even know what Thaana is? Phagspa? Fun for me, perhaps, but who else will use it besides Andrew West?

And again, will we be able to use any of these fonts (e.g. Aparajita) on the Mac? My Sanskrit teacher friend Nicolai Bachman is also waiting/hoping for full OpenType support in Mac OS X.

In all, I agree it's disappointing to see Windows once again taking the lead in international capabilities. Twenty years ago the Mac had the clear advantage, but Apple's been fumbling that ball ever since.

Tom Gewecke said...

Andrew -- I don't see any sign of OS X being able to use Windows Indic fonts in 10.6.

Newanewa said...

Andrew, Tom,

I use Phagspa and Thaana, but on a Mac of course! I saw another post that made reference to 150 keyboard layouts vs 18 localizations. I just want to point out the obvious - full system localizations are a different animal than keyboard layouts/implementations. I don't know what the number is for Snow Leopard but there are far more than 18 keyboards available. And I think Windows, although it has maybe a 100 language packs, a large number of them say Partial and/or use English as the parent language.
I know you're both Mac fans and I agree that in general Apple has dropped the ball on the international front but I for one hope that they never abandon their AAT model - I still maintain that it is superior. And as an example, I'd be happy to take on any language that is currently unofficially unsupported by Apple and create fonts and proper support for it.

OpenType is not required to make any of this work! The real problem as I see it is that Apple doesn't provide adequate documentation for potential font/language developers. And software developers do not take advantage of Apple's Unicode rendering technology (shame on Microsoft and Adobe!).

Maybe your friend Nicolai should contact me about Sanskrit support.

Tom Gewecke said...

Newanewa -- One script for which no font currently exists at any price for OS X is Classical Mongolian.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolian_script

Newanewa said...

Not entirely true...as you know the real problem is is vertical orientation but I have had a Mongolian and Manchu solution for 4-5 years now and have used it to create monolingual as well as bilingual documents. It's tricky to be sure and I've had to implement it as a RTL script but it does work.
Unfortunately I can't do anything about the vertical orientation issue (as that is at the system level).
If you'd like to play with the Mongolian/Manchu, happy to pass a copy on.

Tom Gewecke said...

Newanewa -- Thanks, I would love to test your font even only as rtl. My email is tom at bluesky dot org.

nickshanks said...

Kaʻōnohi, would you be willing to send me a copy of your language kits too? As an AAT developer and (monoglot) language enthusiast they would really interest me from a technical perspective.

Newanewa said...

Hi Nick,

I'm assuming you're interested in the Mongolian/Manchu support? I can't send you copies of all the kits but contact me off-list at kaonohi at gmail dot com.