[Ltru] Windows 8 user languages and BCP 47

Peter Constable <petercon@microsoft.com> Wed, 29 February 2012 20:43 UTC

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From: Peter Constable <petercon@microsoft.com>
To: "ietf-languages@alvestrand.no" <ietf-languages@alvestrand.no>, "LTRU Working Group (ltru@ietf.org)" <ltru@ietf.org>
Thread-Topic: Windows 8 user languages and BCP 47
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Date: Wed, 29 Feb 2012 20:43:21 +0000
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Subject: [Ltru] Windows 8 user languages and BCP 47
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[I know this will sound like a product plug. It may be that in part, but I really do want to applaud BCP 47.]

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview went live today for the public to download and try out. One of the changes in this release is in the area of international settings, with the new Language control panel as the focal point. In previous versions of Windows, users were very limited (relative to the thousands of known languages) in terms of getting Windows to recognize the languages that they use. Thanks to ISO 639-3 and BCP 47, this is radically changed in Windows 8: users are now able to indicate preferences from thousands of languages (and tens of thousands of language-script pairings).

To keep from having an overwhelming number of options from being presented, we don't list every possibility by default. But using the search feature when you add a language, you can search on many additional language names, and you can also search using a BCP 47 tag. Any "valid" BCP 47 language tag will be accepted, and that language can be added to your user profile. For our purposes, "valid" means (i) subtags are known (we'll have a snapshot of LTRU), (ii) the script for the language is known (either an explicit script subtag or the script can be implied from the language subtag), and (iii) the script is one for which Windows 8 has text display support (I've lost count-close to 50).

So, for instance, users can add to their profile languages such as sga-Oghm (Old Irish written in Ogham script) or tlh-Latn (Klingon written in Latin script). And with that, they can search for web content in those languages, or edit documents in those languages, or write apps or language tools like spelling checkers for those languages.

It's a milestone with personal significance for me-I started looking into how thousands of lesser-known languages could be supported in commercial software over 12 years ago. I want to give a big thanks to everyone who was involved in the (sometimes arduous) work on BCP 47 during that time. I see this a great success for BCP 47, and I hope it will lead to lots of success stories for smaller language communities throughout the world.

Thanks, all!
Peter Constable