RE: Internationalization--the next generation

From: Murray Sargent (
Date: Wed May 26 1999 - 16:02:21 EDT

With Office 2000 about to hit the stores, I can't resist suggesting that the
people in this thread see what applications like Word 2000 have done with
nonWestern locales. For example, the US version of Word 2000 can be told to
adopt many different User Interface (UI) conventions, e.g., Arabic, Hebrew,
Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, etc. This is done with simple dialog
choices that can be executed by an administrator or by the end user. The
SouthEast Asian version of Word 2000 adds UIs for India, Vietnam, and

There will certainly be worthwhile, innovative things to do with nonWestern
UIs, just as there will be with Western UIs. But the situation probably
isn't as bad as suggested in some of the email in this thread. In
particular, Microsoft most definitely is willing to pay for changes to help
and thrill nonWestern users. It's just good business, since such users
provide a very significant part of our income. That's likely to be true for
other software vendors as well.

Btw, if anyone has any suggestions for improving the UIs of Office 2000, pls
send them along.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Peck, Jon []
> Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 1999 12:07 PM
> To: Unicode List
> Subject: RE: Internationalization--the next generation
> We localize some of our products (data mining, statistics, graphics,
> quality, science ...) into major languages, but we also sell our English
> product in lots of smaller markets, and we try to design the English
> product
> in a reasonably international way up front. Our most international
> products
> are on Windows as the primary platform, but some cover Unix and other os's
> as well.
> So as part of our regular development process and as part of our
> localization work, we ask our local offices around the world (and
> sometimes
> our customers!) whether there are things at the level of metaphors,
> colors,
> etc that are not understood or are unnatural or even offensive in their
> locales. What we almost always hear is that there are no significant
> problems in this area.
> While I'd like to credit our development process with having totally
> conquered this problem (or perhaps producing UIs bland enough to put
> everyone to sleep), I have concluded that with a reasonable sense of I18N
> issues, that the remaining theoretical differences have largely gone away,
> primarily due to the spread of standard GUIs worldwide. At least this
> seems
> to apply to the types of users we have.
> If this is not so, then how does one uncover trouble spots short of
> validating UIs in 100 countries?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Suzanne Topping []
> Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 1999 1:18 PM
> To: Unicode List
> Subject: Re: Internationalization--the next generation
> Steve,
> You are exactly right. And I think the colors and icons are even some of
> the
> easier issues to deal with. In theory, you can find out what mailboxes
> look
> like (generally) in various areas of the world. Also, color associations
> are
> pretty readily accessible, if you want to hunt them down.
> Some of the tougher issues are metaphors like using a desktop rather than
> drawers and folders, or the way certain cultures move their eye across a
> screen. Westerners tend to look at a screen the same way we read a page;
> top
> to bottom, left to right. Other cultures obviously read differently, and
> therefore look at a screen differently. Should dialog items therefore be
> moved around so that they are more logically located when localizing to a
> right-to-left reading culture?
> It's a tricky business. None of our internationalization or localization
> processes are set up to deal with these issues. (Let alone are our
> American
> corporations willing to pay for the changes!)

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