Microsoft is taking a more global approach with Windows 8, adding 14 new languages and dialects to its upcoming operating system. Combined with the dozens already offered in Windows 7, the company says the platform will support 109 total languages.
Windows International Team Program Manager Ian Hamilton explained that the new built-in linguistic options were prepped with key emerging markets in mind.
“With Windows 8, we’ve changed how we think about languages from a ‘local-market feature’ to a ‘feature for everyone everywhere,’ and have made it a priority for you to be able to work in any language you want, from any Windows 8 PC,” Hamilton said.
The 13 new included languages are: Punjabi (Pakistan), Sindhi (Pakistan), Central Kurdish (Iraq), Uyghur (People’s Republic of China), Belarusian (Belarus), Kinyarwanda (Rwanda), Tigrinya (Ethiopia), Tajik (Tajikistan), Wolof (Senegal), K’iche’ (Guatemala), Cherokee (United States), Scottish Gaelic (United Kingdom) and Valencian (Spain).
Additionally, Hamilton confirmed that Windows 8 will see a version of English for the United Kingdom, something he admits was a long time coming. Users across the pond (or those in the U.S. who love words with extra letters) can expect to see the standalone pack as part of an OEM PC and software available via retail.
Hamilton said a massive increase in bilingual U.S. residents was cause enough for Microsoft to rethink language display options. No longer will those people need to select one language or another. A new Language section in Windows 8’s Control Panel will contain everything previously offered through Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center, he said.
“Feedback showed that customers loved having a Spanish language PC, but what they really needed was Spanish and English, and the ability to switch between them. A subsequent study by an outside firm confirmed these results,” said Hamilton. “In many cases, parents in the home spoke Spanish, and their children were speaking English. The ability to have a Spanish user account for the parents, and an English one for the kids – or at least the ability to switch a single account’s display language back and forth between English and Spanish – was the way to delight these customers.”
A Consumer Preview version of Windows 8 is slated for February 29.