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Microsoft Plans to Create Local Language Software 480

Posted by simoniker
from the xp-language-docious dept.
zensufi writes "CNET News has a story stating that Microsoft has announced plans for a program to help governments produce local language versions of key Microsoft applications, giving the software giant a hedge against a growing international threat from open-source software." The piece explains: 'The Local Language Program will provide local and regional governments with "language interface packs" that government and academic developers can use to produce localized versions of the Windows XP operating system and Office 2003 productivity package.'
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Microsoft Plans to Create Local Language Software

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  • by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:40PM (#8594970) Journal
    What antimonopolistic evil behaviour!

    Actually customizing their products to different markets. UN FRICKIN BELIEVABLE.

    Now throw yer tantrum kids.
    • Linux forced it. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:50PM (#8595060)
      Microsoft didn't even want to support Icelandic,
      in spite of the government wanting to fund the
      whole project.

      Now, with Linux supporting all sorts of weird
      stuff like Welsh and a zillion Indian languages,
      Microsoft is losing out in places. All those
      little annoying-to-support markets add up.
      • ...when the market speaks, even BeelzeBill listens.
    • by DaHat (247651) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:53PM (#8595078) Homepage
      There is nothing monopolistic about making your product available to as many people/organizations/governments that you can.

      Where I come from... we call this competition! You know, where different organizations tailor their products to a given market and duke it out to see who succeeds.

      • There is nothing monopolistic about making your product available to as many people/organizations/governments that you can.

        Even if you do it at a net loss to your company?

        You could call that "generating goodwill" and I'm sure there will be people calling it just that. Company shareholders will tolerate some goodwill as long as they can be convinced it translates into the bottom line at some point. OTOH, I could take a fair hit of ill-will as a company as long as I was making billions of dollars per year

    • Now throw yer tantrum kids.

      Tantrum? I'm delighted. In order to protect their monopoly on all fronts they are spreading their resources thinner and thinner in order to combat the various threats from competitors, open Source and open standards (for instance Linux, Open Office/Star Office, Java, XML, Mobile platforms) This means loss of focus, low quality, delayed releases. And hopefully their downfall.

    • What antimonopolistic evil behaviour!

      Actually customizing their products to different markets. UN FRICKIN BELIEVABLE.

      Now throw yer tantrum kids.

      Actually it is likely a smokescreen. Microsoft has long touted their localization efforts while in reality avoiding numerous locales even when they have lots of customers in those locales. In the case of Hebrew, they declared there would never be Hebrew language versions of their software even though the Israeli government offered to pay for the development

      • "In the case of Hebrew, they declared there would never be Hebrew language versions of their software even though the Israeli government offered to pay for the development and ultimately even to supply the developers if that is what it took. Microsoft said NO."

        In some of the better software products, you can just take the messages file and translate it yourself, without any need to request that the vendor enables that feature for you.

        "Free Software", I think they call it. Hey, you even get freedom of lan
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Please, like it or not, MS is already light years ahead of OSS in terms of localization and supporting foreign languages. We've got a lot of catching up to do before we're even in the ballpark!
    • by System.out.println() (755533) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:50PM (#8595056) Journal
      Open source, bad? HOW DARE YOU!!!11one!!!! ....but seriously, Apple has M$ completely stomped. Not only is almost every app multi-language, but they make it very easy for the third-party developers to make their own apps multilingual - it's as easy as creating a Spanish.lproj file (or whatever language). Although you do have to actually translate it....
      • Out of curiousity... how does that work? Does an error message (say, "file not found") point to message #XXX, which is then just referenced in the language specific file? Is it that simple?
      • Open source, bad? HOW DARE YOU!!!11one!!!! ....but seriously, Apple has M$ completely stomped.

        Then open source developers have MS stomped as well, if they were smart enough to chose GNUstep [gnustep.org]. It uses the same methods for localization that Apple's Cocoa apps do.

    • by Vicegrip (82853) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:04PM (#8595141) Journal
      A vague unsupported statement by an AC moderated to +4 ..... But hey, MS astroturfers like to shoot fast and make a lot of noise, so I guess I'm starting to get used to it. Anyways, when was the last time you used KDE [kde.org]?
      FYI: KDE now supports 49 languages [slashdot.org]and the list is actively growing. On an other note, I seem to recall a story just recently about Microsoft refusing to update Microsoft Office for Hebrew on the Mac...
    • Yes and no (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Felinoid (16872) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:43PM (#8595350) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft is far ahead of open source projects in terms of language support in products BUT...

      There is usually a version in your local language.
      Microsoft Windows China version compleate with anti-Chinese slurs.
      One of the first things local governments do with open source is translate the error messages and directions into something the staff can understand.

      American companys are legendary for exporting crap. They don't even begin to understand local sensibilitys and insult or piss off everyone.
      Microsoft is known for ignoring the sensabilitys of people INSIDE THE UNITED STATES and end up insulting or pissing off anyone who dosen't use Microsofts products and a larg part of the people that do.
      American trampling of local culture plus Microsofts apathy twords anything not directly related to Microsoft culture equals an unholy nightmare in the error messages, system prompts, docs and anything else any Windows user has to deal with on a daily basis.

      American:
      Hit Ctrl+Alt+Del to log in

      Vogon:
      Punch the guy next to you to urinate on the system

      Annother example: "All your base are belonging to us"
      It sounds like the bad guy is saying "We captured all your military instalations" or something like that.
      Now would YOU want to deal with "All your base" every freaking time you logged in?
      And that presumming you didn't bumble into a cultrally significant notion.

      Picture a Vogon pushing Control then Alt then Del.. not all at once but in sequence as if Control, Alt and Del were each letters to a word.
      (Did I mention Vogons are stupid?)
      Purely becouse of the context...

      Microsoft is offering to let local governments to do the translations instead of doing it themselfs to address cultrally significant issues in the way things are put.
      Open Source projects automatcly do this becouse the translations are handled by locals.
      On the other hand....
      Yes most Open source projects don't support more than one language for lack of someone in a diffrent locality than the project leader.
    • ... MS is already light years ahead of OSS in terms of localization and supporting foreign languages.

      That's not quite true. Certainly, their translated versions of Windows, Office and so on are very well done, but there's one very major problem with them: they're each separate versions.

      I want English, my wife wants German. It's not possible to install a Windows box so that we both get what we want - we have to choose one and we're stuck with it. OpenOffice is the same (both Windows and Unix versions)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:40PM (#8594976)
    The NorCal local language pack will add the words hella and and shit in as many places as it can.

    "Ah man, now I get it. The help files are hella easy to understand 'n shit. So if you wanna shut down, click the start button, and select Shut Down And Shit"

    Meanwhile, the Southern Californian Localization will feature such items as "Shut Down - It's Just Called Shut Down"
  • Heh.. that sounds liek them wantign the OSS kind of workforce without payign the price...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:41PM (#8594984)
    ...the schmoe who has to translate all the stupid shit Clippy says into other languages.
    • by Chief Technovelgist (759322) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:58PM (#8595108)
      The open source article says "The language spoken by most Rwandans has no word for "computer" ... the Rwandan [open source] developers created their own: "mudasobwa," which roughly means "something or someone that does not make mistakes."

      Microsoft should have no problem localizing in Rwanda ;)

  • by irokitt (663593) <archimandrites-iaur&yahoo,com> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:42PM (#8594993)
    Where can I get my hands on these development tools so that I can start on a ROT13 version of Office?

    Vg nccrnef lbh ner gelvat gb glcr n yrggre. Jbhyq lbh yvxr zr gb uryc?
  • Hedge? (Score:2, Informative)

    by zensufi (743379)
    I don't know exactly what this "hedge" is. Open-source software has been translated by locals for a long time already. It seems that something even more important to these locals would be the price and reliability of their machines. GNU/Linux might be the better system for them to run, given limited resources.
    • Re:Hedge? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by el-spectre (668104)
      Right. Acknowledging that OSS has a decent international presence, MS is trying to compete, hence the "hedge" comment.
  • by the.jedi (212166) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:43PM (#8595001) Homepage
    How Do you say General Protection Fault in swahili?
    EEEEeeeeeeeeeee!!!!
  • Freeloading (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chrispyman (710460) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:43PM (#8595007)
    So Microsoft is giving us the priviledge of letting us translate their products for them. For some reason I don't think this will work well commercial product. You paid for it, why should you work more? Obviously for open source, it's diffrent.
  • What Gall (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bstadil (7110) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:44PM (#8595017) Homepage
    that government and academic developers can use to produce localized versions of the [snip] Office 2003 productivity package

    For $400 a pop you would have thought they could have done this themselves.

    • by irokitt (663593) <archimandrites-iaur&yahoo,com> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:54PM (#8595087)
      Government and Academic institutions would be more than happy to pay extra. It isn't their money.
      • Re:What Gall (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:04AM (#8596026) Homepage
        Er... as an employee of an academic institution, I really must protest.

        First, you're an insensitive clod.

        Second, the money that we get comes from a mix of payments made by students and funded legislated by the state. Neither of those sources are eager to part with their cash, and in order to earn it, the institution has to provide value.

        Part of proviing value in our case is delivering the maximum service for the smallest outlay of cash. In other words, you're damn skippy we have to pinch our pennies, often to the point of under-funding projects, begging for grant money, and underpaying the staff and faculty. This we do in the name of providing a higher education, because there's no money to be made here. Only reputations.

        The trick is to pinch the pennies in ways that appear extravegant and bold, to "show" that we're a competitive, forward-thinking institution with the future in mind.
  • by still_sick (585332) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:44PM (#8595019)
    The MUI (Multi-Language User Interface) Pack has beena available for the US-English version of Windows for years.

    Localized versions of Windows have been available for years as well.

    Now they DARE to Localize Applications?! THOSE BASTARDS!!!
    • by HalfFlat (121672) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:18AM (#8595543)
      So ah, tell me. How do I convince my Japanese version of Windows XP Home to display OS messages in English?

      The last time I tried to search for an answer, the only one I found was: buy an English version, back-up everything, install English version, restore from backup. This is a far cry from setting your LANG envvar.

      While I'm at it, I can complain that under this version of the OS, a whole bunch of English-language software seems to have uglified small fonts, sometimes to the point of illegibility.

      Oh, and how do you enter full-width katakana from the command prompt? It seems impossible. Which makes entering the localized name of the Local Area Connection tricky in netsh. (As far as I can tell, you have to cut and paste the name.)

      Not to mention the way that the IME taskbar widget regularly gets obscured by other taskbar widgets making changing input settings a pain in the neck. Microsoft's own deskswitcher application is a particular offender in this regard.

      Sure it has localization, but it doesn't appear to be especially well thought out (infamously bad translations aside), and certainly its internationalization quality leaves something to be desired.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:45PM (#8595022)
    Give them some credit where it is due. Microsoft has always pushed multi language support at every level long before OSS was a serious contender. All their OS API's support unicode, multi language versions of their OS's and many applications have been around a long time.
  • future misery (Score:4, Interesting)

    by segment (695309) <sil@NOSpam.politrix.org> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:47PM (#8595033) Homepage Journal

    I wonder if somewhere down the line MS will turn around and lock up users into only opening files made under a certain language something a-la DVD "scheme" (yea dual use term that word scheme). So user Wong in China creates files in China to send to his brother Ming in America. Will user Wong also have to buy an addon somewhere in the future?
  • by femto (459605) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:50PM (#8595063) Homepage
    It almost sounds like the begginings of a 'bazaar' development model (albeit a miniscule step in that direction).

    So, what license is to be used for these translations, written by third parties? Will Microsoft try and demand ownership, or at least commandeer a right to unlimited use of the translation?

    If it is legally possible, it would be a really interesting experiment to write a translation and release it under the GPL, then sit back and watch the reaction.

  • by Stevyn (691306) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:51PM (#8595066)
    This sounds to me like they're just outsourcing the task of translating their software to different languages to other small countries that wouldn't make it financially worth it for microsoft to do it.
  • by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:51PM (#8595069)
    Microsoft has announced plans for a program to help governments produce local language versions of key Microsoft applications

    Shouldn't that be the other way around? Why should governments be doing Microsoft's work? If Microsoft wants to sell in upper Mongolia, it ought to make the effort to localize its own damn software for that market.

    If you ask me, this is just one more example of Microsoft's incredible hubris.
    • by bomblaster (580308) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:38PM (#8595323)
      Just another example of twisted OSS thinking.

      MS is going about it in a brilliant strategic way. They realize that it is not financially worthwhile for them to do it themselves. Instead they are getting the help of user who might want to use their product.
      Right now upper Mongolia doesnt have a customised version of Linux or Windows. There is nothing to stop Upper Mongolia from creating a language pack for KDE. What MS has done is to provide an alternative to that, maybe at a lower cost.
  • Profit abroad (Score:5, Informative)

    by DryBaboon (706101) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:52PM (#8595073)
    I'm in China and I've never seen a non-pirate version of any piece of software, including on computers of reputable companies. Not only is there no respect for copyright, there is no understanding of the concept. The increase in profit will not be that great because everyone will use the new localised software... but in pirate copies with no money going to MS... but I guess that's ok if you rate it by convenience to humanity.
    • Re:Profit abroad (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285)
      I think this is about maintaining long term control of the desktop. As long as MS has this control, they can also control the protocols. As long as they can control the protocols, they can minimize threats from competitors.

      For instance, if China were to start using OSS, that would mean that IE would not be dominant browser. This would mean that web designer would not just be able to buy a copy of Frontpage and use the templates to design a site, but would have use tools that could create effective co

  • by soullessbastard (596494) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:56PM (#8595102) Homepage Journal
    Disclaimer: I work on OpenOffice.org for MacOS X

    Unfortunately MS fails to realize that simple translation may not be enough. Take Office v.X on the Mac for example. It's lack of full RTL and Unicode support means some languages can't be supported, even if just the interface is translated. Rubi for Japanese is another language feature that may require access to the source code itself. Not to mention other tasks like modifying their English grammar checker to support new languages...


    Merely providing the ability to make a "Language Pack" and translate the strings on the screen does not provide enough access to really support foreign languages. Without full access to the source code, foreign languages will still remain second class citizens


    ed

    • Not necessarily, they could break it down into a really generic format that would allow others to code new grammer settings in. I don't think you need access to everything to simply change the language around. They're not going to open it up and that's their choice. They spend the money to develop it and it's their right to keep it closed. If you don't like it, then don't buy it.
    • I agree. Lack of unicode support in Word can be crippling for a scholar writing about ancient Greek texts. MS simply doesn't allow such a scholar to look up ancient texts on perseus [tufts.edu] and just copy and paste a couple of lines of the Greek in a Greek font with accents. Too bad - you gotta retype every letter and hope you know the language well enough to get the accents right.
  • by PetoskeyGuy (648788) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @10:58PM (#8595109)
    Dialectizer Wizard

    Please choose a language...

    ( ) Elmer Fudd
    ( ) Redneck
    ( ) Jive
    ( ) Cockey
    ( ) Sweedish Chef (my favorite)
    ( ) Moron
    ( ) Pig Latin
    ( ) Hacker

    (BTW, this is from The Dialectizer [rinkworks.com] site - Microsoft currently blocks them - no sense of humor)
  • I think what they intend to do is lick some govt ass and trick them into using localized language software and what happens eventually is that the govt files an anti-trust kind lawsuit againt MS! that would be nice.
  • by Goeland86 (741690) <goeland_86&yahoo,fr> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:04PM (#8595143)
    Funny that it took so long for MS to realize they'd been had... I remember a friend of mine translating KDE documentation in french about 4 years ago... Not to mention the fact that asian fonts have been almost constantly present under linux, as far as I can remember. Besides, China already has Dragon Linux, and they wouldn't switch back to windows for anything else than a nuclear war threat... and even then it'd be a tough challenge! So guess what: that's not going to make a difference in the long run. MS has lost the initiative, and they're trying to make believe they still have it... I hope we can prove they're behind the Opensource community, and have been ever since linux came to being!
  • I have worked on a couple projects that allowed language localization. If the code is designed with modern standards in mind, it was quite easy to localize (at least for western languages) as all text was kept kept in separate resource files. The same for icons, et al. On the Mac such things could be changed, from day one, by resedit, a free and very usable application. This resulted in various themes based on Bloom County and other topics. It also allowed offensive icons to be modified. Of course, U
  • by leandrod (17766) <l&dutras,org> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:06PM (#8595159) Homepage Journal

    When Alpha was struggling, MS helped kill it by porting only part of its portfolio, and making difficult for other people to port theirs.

    Now, MS WXP and MS Office... what about countless other apps? And is it as easy for ISVs to translate theirs? Then, can they ship a binary with multilanguage built in as in POSIX systems?

    And even if people could translate all that mass of software, will they do proprietary software vendors' work? Perhaps for MS Office and WXP, but I doubt for anything else.

    In the end, we still have an edge here. MS actually progressed just a little.

  • BSOD (Score:4, Funny)

    by enrico_suave (179651) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:08PM (#8595169) Homepage
    pantalla azul de la muerte!

    e.

  • by ozric99 (162412) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:09PM (#8595177) Journal
    The Amiga did this over a decade ago with it's "locale" settings. Anybody could produce a localised translation of application menus etc. In fact there are hundreds of such "locale" settings on aminet. [uni-paderborn.de]
  • by tuxlove (316502) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:10PM (#8595186)
    Their language packs wouldn't be complete without these languages/alphabets:

    - Ebonics
    - Pig latin
    - Esperanto
    - Elvish
    - Klingon
    - Linear B

    I guarantee you Microsoft won't support any of these. But the open source community is certainly not above it, and will surely be the only recourse for anyone needing to localize software in those languages. And I'm sure there's more I haven't named here.
  • by wltack (103314) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:11PM (#8595193)
    I read an account in 1999(?) detailing how the government of Iceland wrote to M$ about when they expected to develop packages to run the OS in Icelandic. M$ replied "Well, hmm, never". Not enough by itself, but I just remember that this was the straw that broke the camel's back for me.
  • by cyber_rigger (527103) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:18PM (#8595230) Homepage Journal

    PO files in Debian for each language

    http://www.debian.org/international/l10n/po/ [debian.org]
  • by jenkin sear (28765) * on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:23PM (#8595259) Homepage Journal
    How many new buffer overflows will all these previously fixed-length strings introduce? A zillion?
  • by rock_climbing_guy (630276) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:24PM (#8595263) Journal
    joo MU57 4CC3PT teh T3RM5 0f 7hIs 4GR33M3N7 B4 537U9 wi11 C0N7INU3. 913453 S313C7 "I AGREE" 70 1ND1C473 joo 4CC39T teh T3rM5.

    [ ] I AGREE.
    [ ]I DO NOT AGREE.

  • by Anubis333 (103791) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:29PM (#8595290) Homepage

    What about languages that don't have direct translations for key words like "security hole", "patch", "bug", "unstable" and "hotfix"?

    • Well, to re-calc back from Russian, which has had precisely this problem:

      security hole: a hole in defenses (dyra v zaschite)
      patch: a clothes-patch (zaplata)
      bug: officially, "a problem in software," but unofficially "a hallucination" (gluk), or direct usage of English "bug"

      Other fun translations:
      firewall: inter-network screen of defense (mezhsetevoi ekran zaschity), though "fayervoll" is used far more commonly
      hard drive: firm disk (zhestkii disk), though among techies the word "vint" is commonly u

  • by geckoFeet (139137) <gecko@dustyfeet.com> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:38PM (#8595330)
    For a while now, they've actually been producing local-language software, in a desultory and half-assed way, specifically in response to (usually much better) local-language free software. See, for ex., http://www.kyfieithu.co.uk/item.php?lg=en&item_id= 79 for Welsh, Nynorsk (the *other* Norwegian), and Catalan.
  • by Starky (236203) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:47PM (#8595366)
    I can understand the spirit of community service that inspires people to volunteer their time and resources to open source localization projects.


    But here we have a company with over $60 billion in the bank, pulling in more than $1 billion per month in pure profits, raking in unheard of profit margins on their products, and they are asking local and regional governments to provide them with gratis localization services.


    Shameful.

  • by handy_vandal (606174) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:54PM (#8595409) Homepage Journal
    The Local Language Program will provide local and regional governments with "language interface packs" ...

    Oh, so it's only "governments" that rate, hmm?

    No help for the Esperanto community, I guess.

    Though it wouldn't surprise me to find Microsoft courting the Klingon-speaking community ....

    -kgj
  • by ashitaka (27544) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:09AM (#8595487) Homepage
    Years ago I sold a package called Win/V that allowed you to run native Japanese applications on Windows for Workgroups. This was significant since there was never a Japanese WfW but the Japanese users wanted the networking features.

    What made Win/V different is that it didn't just modify the interface to support a different language as the MultiLingual Packs do, but added the underlying code that localized versions of applications need. This way you could run the Japanese version of Excel for example and get all the local features like rubi and Japanese dates but still be running on an English version of the OS. Embassies loved this system as the underlying OS and network would be supported from the home country.

    Macs have had this for years with their Language Kits and I don't think Windows has ever matched it. What happens if you try to install Japanese Office 2K on English XP?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:25AM (#8595588)

    Here's what I've heard on the street, and I could be highly inaccurate, but here it is anyway:

    Some weeks ago, CNet came out with an article [com.com] on localization, using Rwanda as an example.

    Within a day or two, Microsoft had reps in that country, and offered the government all the MS software it wanted at $2 (US equiv) a CD. Also, resellers would get a sweet deal, to either increase profits there, or lower the cost of computers.

    So, news of providing hooks to make locally localized versions seems natural. Microsoft isn't stupid, and it isn't sleeping either. These are decidedly tactical moves.

    You can look at it this way, also: Competition between Linux and MSoft is resulting in a boon to poor countries: much cheaper software.

  • Eh.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by segfault7375 (135849) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:27AM (#8595598)
    Sounds to me like they are just trying to outsource some work. Nothing comes from MS with no strings attached :)
  • by Michael B. Davis (588524) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @12:43AM (#8595670) Homepage
    Hi,

    With all their billions in the bank, why can't they just pay for the translations? I can't believe that a government would spend resources doing translation work for Microsoft.

    Of course, M$ is going to try to get away with not having to pay for it. But I doubt governments (and of course just those of relatively low-population countries) will want to assist funding for them, seeing as how they have such a huge war chest.

    I feel confident that gov's will prefer to fund translation on Linux, and M$ will be forced to pay for the their own translation anyway, if they want to get into the market.

  • by magi (91730) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:04AM (#8596322) Homepage Journal
    It sounds incredible to me that Microsoft actually tries to get governments to translate their software for them free, while Open Source localization groups are desperate with getting governments to participate or provide even little funding.

    Perhaps we would need to organize better?

    For some time, I've been trying to find out if there exists a collective effort for localizing open source software, which covers both all softwares and all locales.

    Currently, we seem to have two types of localization efforts: software-specific and national efforts. For example, the major OSS softwares, such as KDE, Gnome, and OpenOffice have organized translation efforts. Then there are some national efforts. For example, in Finland, we have organized a joint national effort [www.iki.fi] as a working group, which gathers the different Finnish localization teams together and aims to provide them publicity, recruiting, funding, other resources, and generally a channel for cooperation. We currently have KDE, Gnome, OpenOffice, Debian, and some other translation teams working together on common issues such as quality, vocabulary, and tools. I have noticed that there exists also some other national or language-specific efforts, such as for Arabic and South-African languages. However, I haven't found any cooperation effort between these national efforts, where we could participate.

    So, what I'm looking for is a universal effort that covers both all the different localization projects for different softwares, and for the different languages (or nationalities). There exists some more-or-less generic efforts, such as the Translation Project, but those which I've seen cover only a limited set of software products (TP covers some 100 but it's still rather limited).

    If you know about such an universal cover effort, please tell me.

    Otherwise, perhaps the time is ripe for starting to plan for such an effort. I'm not talking about any massive organization, just a loose, light-weight organization that would serve as a center for information sharing and cooperation. Well, basicly a well-structured web portal would suffice.

    I begun to wonder about this last fall, when I started designing a portal-based information system for the Finnish national localization effort and did preliminary organization analysis. I noticed that many of the tools we would need would also be useful for others. Well, of course it may be difficult to unify such tools between different efforts, as different efforts have their own preferences, but it would be nice to get to know what other efforts need and what they could contribute.

    Our Finnish national effort is still slowly forming, but we are quite active in certain areas such as quality assurance. We have had one joint workshop event so far and have planned to have one twice a year (next one is scheduled for May). Last year, we produced a 26 page report about the status of different Finnish localization projects. We have also tried to make contacts with translation departments of universities. Our effort for getting funding is still in infancy.

    We would very much like to share "patterns" of organizing national and software-specific efforts and serving the actual translation teams.

    So, is there anyone interested in world domination?
  • by divec (48748) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @04:16AM (#8596592) Homepage
    In Wales we have had experience of this - Microsoft recently announced that they would make a Welsh LIP available. However:
    • The LIP only translates a minority of strings in the UI. OTOH most Open-Source software lets you do a full translation.
    • It is monolingual - once Welsh LIP is installed, all users of that computer get the Welsh interface. This is almost useless in a country like Wales, where most businesses are bilingual. Most Open-Source software supports UI language choice at start time, or at least lets you install multiple copies for different languages.
    • It is unsafe - there is no guarantee that Microsoft will continue to make this available in the future. When planning IT for a large organisation, you need more security than 2 years into the future. Open-Source licences guarantee that governments, or volunteers, will always have the power to translate software, at a predictable cost.

    Having said that, it's certainly a start. I think we will see Microsoft, and other proprietary software vendors, forced to provide localisation in the future, to compete with Open-Source software which enables this.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @04:22AM (#8596613) Homepage
    What with them having argued so strenously (in USia and EUia) that these are "an integral part of the OS". Let's see how that assertion pans out in practice.
  • by Renesis (646465) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @06:39AM (#8596994)
    After all these years there is still no English version of Windows or Office.

    Office has an English dictionary option but the application itself is in American (U.S. English). This is the nearest a Microsoft application comes to English.

    60 million speakers of English in the UK and no local translation! We still have to put up with "favorites" and "color", while even the few Welsh speakers get their own version!

    Crazy!
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:59AM (#8598436)
    ...I'm just wondering when they're going to openly admit that to themselves and the public.
    For years I've been wondering why Microsoft doesn't join the corporate fray of OSS, on the way mixing it with their branding and doing a branding variant of the 'embrace and extend' thing they're into. After all, nobody gave a damn about licensing until MS started ranting about the GPL being anti-american and at the same time screwing up their licensing as to piss everybody off.

    Anyway, I've narrowed in on some optinal answers to this question:
    1) MS is to big, slow and stupid and the chiefs are to Windows-focused that they don't see the light.
    --I don't think this is the real truth. It fits into a typical MS rant and would fit to a megacorporation the size of MS, but considering that they actually are a software company, and a quite succesfull one I think this answer is to simple.

    2) MS couldn't care less. Even if they only hopp on in 2 years from now when they've milked the last proprietary cow, they'll just throw in a few billion, by the one or other Linux company, mix in a little DirectX and Exchange for Linux and squish RH, SuSE and Madrake along the way.
    --This seems more likely. But then again, if that's their plan, they would have started this much earlier. And I dont think they could gain foothold any more, neither now or 2 years from now.

    3) The MS revenue stream relys so much on markting hype and exclusive Windows branding that MS has no other choice than to take up the fight, even if they're going to lose in the end anyway. They'd rather shoot themselves than admit that OSS has them by the balls and start an ordered retreat out of the proprietary software market in the long run. Taking every money they can get on the way and pushing forth into embedded and home entertainment systems.
    --I would think this to be the best answer. Yet even this way it's a dead end for MS as a monopoly. No way in hell can they stand up to a Sony & Matsushita tag team who've just decided to use Linux as their prime embeded system for home entertainment - because it's cheaper and has less lock-in.

    Either way you put it, MS as the master-blaster-of-all-things-Computer is done with. They'll either manage to get the curve into a major service and embeded vendor and strengthen their strong branding in that area or they're going to end up like Commodore or something simular.
    My 2 Eurocents.

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