Over the years, Unicode has been touted as The New ASCII -- a simple replacement for the cacophony of code sets and encoding methods most software supports. But expectations and reality often are two different things. This paper explores some of Compaq's experiences with Unicode, and the sometimes-surprising ways in which Unicode has exceeded expectations or has not lived up to them. It also describes actions that could change current limitations to future successes.

Among the topics to be explored are:
* Unicode and interoperability: You can't handle global data without a common encoding. Compaq's experience with DCOM, ASDU, and LDAP (Distributed Common Object Module, Advanced Server for DIGITAL UNIX, and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, respectively) show ways Unicode simplifies interoperability, and also leaves some nagging questions.
* One code set or just another code set? Unicode can simplify processing, but customers sometimes have other ideas.
* Unifying character properties via Unicode. This has led to a welcome reduction in locale differences.
* Remaining issues. One Unicode or many?

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24 January 1999, Webmaster