RE: Ways to show Unicode contents on Windows?

From: Peter Constable <>
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2013 04:46:23 +0000

Your Tai Tham situation is, of course, exceptional. For a lot of users, though, if they would only update their XP machines to even Windows 7, if not Windows 8.1, they'd find a lot of characters they've been missing are well supported. Someone I know just discovered that Windows 8 supports Old Italic, and has decided to upgrade.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Richard Wordingham
Sent: 11 July 2013 03:47 PM
To: Unicode Discussion
Subject: Re: Ways to show Unicode contents on Windows?

On Thu, 11 Jul 2013 17:41:34 +0000
Peter Constable <> wrote:

> It's not clear to me what you're asking, or why you are asserting that
> "there is no way to show Unicode contents on Windows".

What Ilya wants is automatic fallback to a supporting font if there is one. For example, I have a couple of Tai Tham fonts (one using Graphite and another, incomplete, not using Graphite) on my Windows 7 machine.

If I use Word 2002 (quite possibly a later version will do better), and type Tai Tham text into it, I have to select the Tai Tham font manually, or else I just get boxes for undefined glyphs. Similarly with Notepad. If I use OpenOffice 3.3.0, it finds one of the fonts and uses it. Ilya reports that Firefox *used* to have a similar capability by default - it would search all the fonts installed on the machine until it found one that supported the characters (or script?).

> For simple scripts that do not require shaping that are not yet
> supported, if you have the font and can select the font in your app,
> then text in those scripts can be displayed. Of course, we don't have
> built-in font fallback for such scripts.

Now Tai Tham is a complex script, but even unintelligent rendering can be helpful, and is better than none.

Now it so happens that these Tai Tham fonts claim to support Latin-1, and therefore I have no difficulty in selecting them in any of these three. However, I had a different experience with Malayalam. Although Notepad falls back to Kartika, I have found no way of selecting it for Notepad, which is perturbing. I suspect this is because it does not claim to support Latin-1. Presumably, if I updated the Tai Tham fonts to indicate no support for Latin-1 (and one of them is truly unsuitable for Latin-1 - it can't even display its own name properly), I would be unable to use them with Notepad.

What Ilya is lamenting is that there is no way to show arbitrary Unicode content on Windows whenever there is a supporting font, unless one explicitly specifies the font. Now, things are not quite so bad - if you can salvage old versions of some applications, you can. However, what is depressing him is that this seems not to be true of the latest versions of maintained software, at least, unless you enable an obscure option. This isn't particularly a dig at Microsoft - the open source offerings are now just as disappointing.

Received on Thu Jul 11 2013 - 23:54:17 CDT

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