RE: Support for Multilingual Documents

From: Chris Pratley (
Date: Tue Dec 07 1999 - 00:50:28 EST

Peter wrote:
       <snip> Certainly disk space is a non-issue.

Wish it were so.

Some trends:
1. Hard disks are getting bigger & cheaper
2. As a result of #2, magazine reviewers and general public now (sometimes)
say things like "Certainly disk space is a non-issue." Big change from only
two years ago.
3. As a result of #3, we can now install more good stuff by default, but
only enough so that #2 does not go away.

Unfortunately, the limitation in #3 means we still can't install everything
by default. Multilingual bits of Win2000 are huge when all the IMEs,
dictionaries, and fonts are installed - in the 200MB range, which is
enormous to people who are trying to wedge Win2000, Office, their other apps
and documents onto a 2 yr old laptop with a 1GB hard drive. On top of that,
installing many large fonts can affect the performance of the system
adversely. If installed by default, that affects everyone whether they know
those languages or not. And performance is king - everybody wants a faster
machine. Some people wonder why software seems to bloat to soak up advances
in hardware. Well, this is what causes it - more and more fringe cases
included by default - at the request of users.

Over time, machines will get fast enough and HD's large enough that these
things can be included by default without anyone really noticing. But it is
still a couple of years away. Many companies, however, are doing it today
with Win2000 in particular. To simplify their installations, they enable all
the languages in Win2000 on their hard disk images used around the world. So
that means we can expect to see it everywhere else in the future.

BTW, There are many more things in Win2000 other than multilingual support
that are not installed by default because of this reason. These are
interesting to various other subgroups who also lament that their favourite
bits are not installed by default. We are experimenting with "install on
demand" - you can see this in Office2000 and IE5, but it is hard to get it
so it doesn't cause more trouble than people perceive its value to be (note
the "perceive"). For example, we shouldn't overlook that to a person who
does not know a language, whether it is displayed correctly or not it is
still gibberish. Taking up HD space, slowing down the system, or getting a
notice about a download is merely annoying if you can't read that language

Win2000 allows you to pick the language support you want at setup time, but
of course that does not guarantee anything for the site developer.

Office2000 by default installs all the code page <-> Unicode conversion
tables so that non-Unicode email passing through casual users' machines via
reply/forward will not have its international content trashed.

Chris Pratley
Lead Program Manager
Microsoft Office
(using Win2000 RC3 and Office2000)

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: December 6, 1999 12:02 PM
To: Unicode List
Subject: Re: Support for Multilingual Documents

       Addison wrote:
>My understanding is that this won't happen for obvious
       reasons: most users don't need it and don't want to buy a
       larger hard disk (I'm happy that they will be installable by
       people like myself who would like to type the occasional
       Japanese without rebooting, though).

       This doesn't make sense to me. Most users don't need it, but on
       the odd occasion when they open a document containing text in
       another script, they really don't like seeing gibberish. And
       disk space? We're not talking about a lot of space to add at
       list rendering support. A *lot* more space on their drives is
       going to be taken up by other functionality in the OS and/or
       apps that will have a far greater impact on their need to buy
       new drives than will this. Certainly disk space is a non-issue.


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