Indic support in Windows (was Re: eot and pfr files)

Date: Fri Dec 01 2000 - 10:42:39 EST

On 12/01/2000 06:24:37 AM sreekant wrote:

>hi all,
>I had earlier posted a question on viewing the characters of different
>languages on my browser(IE 5.0) and i have come to a conclusion that it
>is possible through installing fonts on your browser but what if we have
>to provide support for indian languages.

I'll respond making two assumptions: OS is Windows, and character encoding
is Unicode, not ISCII or some custom "hacked font" encoding.

Depending on what level of support you mean, things are potentially
possible, but this varies by platform. You could work with at least some
Indic scripts today, and view them on IE5, if you (or the user browsing the
Web) are using Windows 2000, and have appropriate OpenType fonts. This
without eot or WEFT. The Unicode characters are transformed in the
rendering process by MS's Uniscribe engine and by substitution and
positioning tables in the OT fonts into the appropriate sequence of
positioned glyphs. All this happens on the user's machine, using fonts on
their machine (assuming, of course, that they're running Win2K and have the

On Win9x/Me, it would be potentially possible to display Indic text, but
not to edit it. This is because of limitations in Unicode support in
Win9x/Me: there is general support for display of Unicode characters, but
character input is dependent upon codepage support, and there are no MS
codepages for any S. Asian scripts. (The codepage limitation does not apply
on Win2000 except for apps that are not written to support the Unicode
capabilities of WinNT/2K.)

Now, I say "potentially" because MS has not chosen (thus far, at any rate),
to provide any Indic fonts or a version of Uniscribe with Indic support as
an update option for users on Win9x/Me. The thinking apparently has been,
"Why offer an Indic update pack? The support is already there on Win2000,
and editing wouldn't be possible on Win9x/Me." (This was discussed recently
on this list.) I'm inclined to say that they should provide an Indic
display update for Win9x/Me users, though, and this is certainly a
technical possibility. In Office 97, support was included for displaying
Far East text, including the necessary fonts, even though there was no way
to input or edit Far East text. That was seen to be useful for Office users
then, and it seems to me to have been a good idea. In the same way, I'm
inclined to say that it makes sense for IE users on Win9x/Me to be able to
display Indic text, even though they can't input or edit. With Office 10
(I'm guessing), Win9x/Me users could also view Indic text in any Office app
(but not input or edit). That would seem to me to be A Good Thing. It would
certainly help motivate those who are creating Web content in S. Asian
languages to start using UTF-8 rather than custom encodings that rely on
hacked fonts.

But I'm not the one who decides what MS will and will not provide to users.

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <>

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