2012-03-05

Windows 8 Consumer Preview and the Romanian Language

In this blog entry I will present a few issues gathered in a short test drive of Windows 8 Consumer Preview. If you are not interested in these Romanian issues, please stop reading here :)

The fonts

In the blog entry named Windows 7 and the Romanian Language I've did a bit of nit picking regarding the font families found on Windows 7.

As it turns out, Microsoft didn't fix the font family problems in Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Bad.




The language shortened name

Windows 7 had the Romanian language shortened to "RO", which was perfectly fine. Windows 8 has the Romanian language shortened to "RUM". This came a bit of a shock even though I knew the German translation, namely "Rumänisch".


"RO" short name was standardized by ISO 639-1. "RUM" short name was standardized by ISO 639-2, standard which was based on the MARC Code List for Language of the Library of Congress. There is also a ISO 639-3 standard which has Romanian shortened to "RON", but that's not good either, since the Romanian currency is also shortened to "RON".

If you ask any Romanian how should (s)he shorten the name of the Romanian language (limba Română), (s)he will say "ROM". As it turns out, "ROM" is also present in the ISO 639-2 standard, it marks the shortened form of Romany language.

This is not Microsoft's fault, but I think "RON" is better than "RUM". Baddish.

Retro translations


If you ask anybody from Microsoft which characters (şţ cedilla or șț comma below) should be used in Romanian translations, they will point you to this web page and they will correctly say that the comma below characters are to be used. I've seen such a discussion between Nokia and Microsoft.

But then why is the bing page above translated with the old cedilla characters? I can think of two possibilities:
  1. They've outsourced the translation to a firm which uses the Windows Legacy Romanian keyboard layout (like since Windows 3.11)
  2. The usage of the old cedilla characters was intentional because of problems on some operating systems which have problems displaying the new comma below characters (Android prior to version 3, Windows XP with IE6, WebOS etc)
I wish Microsoft would remove the Legacy keyboard layout in Windows 8. How long will it be supported? At least please change the şţ cedilla characters with the șț comma below characters in the Legacy keyboard layout

The latter problem can be fixed by using a small piece of Javascript code to detect if  the width of "stST" string is the same as the width of the "șțȘȚ" string. If they are the same width then the browser can display the new comma below characters. If not, then it means that the browser is using a different font to substitute the characters, or it is using empty square characters, in which casejust replace the correct comma below characters with the more portable cedilla characters.

I've presented this Javascript detection technique in this blog entry (Romanian): Diacriticele și Internetul. The MIT licensed Javascript code is located here.

Retro translations? Bad

Maps


Besides the fact that the old cedilla ţ is being used in "Constanţa", there is nothing wrong with the page. This is good, it used to be wrongly rendered a month ago. Fixed rendering? Good.

Thank you Microsoft, please correct the map data so that you are using the correct comma below characters. Old characters? Bad


We'll see how Windows 8 RTM will look like in a couple of months.
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