Microsoft Windows 8 will have the UK version of English as a display language option to address British customers and users in some other countries like South Africa, India, Ireland, and Australia that do not use American English.

Windows 8, the next version of the company's OS, will also have 13 new language interface packs (LIPs) that install on top of a standalone Windows display language, Ian Hamilton, a program manager in Microsoft's Windows International Team said yesterday. The packs contain localised user interface elements for the most commonly used Windows features.

Users will also have the option to install multiple display languages and switch between them, as for example between US English and Spanish, a feature relevant in the US, Hamilton said.

Application support

Offering the operating system in local languages will help because in many countries English is at best a second language, said Vishal Tripathi, a principal research analyst at Gartner. But support for local languages will have to go beyond the display of the operating system to supporting these languages in applications as well, he added.

Microsoft has introduced its Internet Explorer and Office suite in a number of languages, but it has to work with third-party applications providers to also offer these languages, Tripathi added.

The company will be adding LIPs for languages used in emerging markets that are experiencing strong growth in PC usage, and for languages preferred by groups of customers in developed markets, such as Cherokee in the US, Scottish Gaelic in the UK and Valencian in Spain.

Language switching

Some of the other languages added are Uyghur spoken in some parts of China, Wolof in Senegal, and Belarusian.

The company is offering English for the UK as a standalone language that contains all the user interface components needed for an independent versions of Windows. "Standalone languages can be used by OEMs to image a PC, or can be purchased as boxed software," Hamilton said.

The option to switch between languages will enable users to move back and forth between languages, or have different language accounts for different users.

Some PCs sold in the US have previously had English and Spanish preinstalled on them. On those PCs, the user picks one language or the other, and the one not chosen is wiped off the hard drive after first run, Hamilton said. Microsoft however received feedback that customers loved having a Spanish language PC, but what they really wanted was Spanish and English, and the ability to switch between them, Hamilton said.

Microsoft already supports 95 languages in Windows 7.