Hello World / Testing localized product on English OS vs localized OS

So today, the Dr. steps into the brave new world of blogging (ok, so blogging isn’t that new anymore).  I want to use this forum to address some thoughts I have on better international computing, give tips on ways to develop for and use Microsoft products pertaining to international issues, answer questions you have and listen to your suggestions on how to make using Microsoft product in international scenarios better.

Looking for questions and thoughts to discuss

I could go on and on forever about what interests him, but what I want to know is what interests you. So please post your thoughts or  internationalization/localization questions, for which you have been unable to find [good] answers, here on this blog, or if you want to keep it private you can send them to me via Ask Dr. International.

To serve you better, I will like the following information:

  •  The version and language of the OS you are using.
  •  The version and language of the applications you are using.
  •  The kind of a problem you have - is it a globalization, localization or localizability question.
  •  Which tools you are currently using to resolve the problem (programming languages, scripting technologies, etc.)

As for "Who is Dr. International?",
Dr. International's identity is one of the most closely guarded secrets of Microsoft. Since (1) I have the support and help of the entire Windows Global Platforms Technologies and Services Group, (2) I am very knowledgeable about international issues, and (3) I get to choose what questions/answers are posted, I will be able to maintain the illusion of knowing everything. ;^)

Testing localized product on English OS vs localized OS

To start off with here is a question that a developer sent the me about testing his localized product on an English version of Windows XP/2000 as compared to a localized version.


Are their any disadvantages of testing the internationalization of a product running on US Windows XP & 2000 with the  MUI (Multilingual User Interface) language group added, compared to a true localized version of the OS? (For example, Danish or Japanese). I can think of folder names such as 'common files' etc which are translated and sometimes can cause problems, but are there other things that testing on a US with language support will not find?

Dr. International Says:

There are some differences, but many of them you can change, which for most cases will allow the English system with MUI installed to act just as the localized version. They are:

  • Pre-sets – thing you can change:

  • Translated names of built-in objects

    • Settings you can change with MUI installed:

    • Things you can not change:

      • Names of special folders, (but you should be using SHGetFolderLocation which doesn’t depend on a name but uses a CSIDL id to identify the folder)

      • Built-in accounts and user groups

      • Performance counters,

      • Names of shortcuts in Shell 

Although the things you can not change may cause problems that can not be found in black-box testing on an English-US machine, they are easily found in code reviews or by running on a fully localized platform like French Windows XP.

While there are some disadvantages, the advantages outweigh them.  For example, think of the costs saved of not having to keep around a lot of test machines dedicate to just one localized version of Windows.  Instead, using flexible language and cultural settings of Windows XP, you will be able to have many test machines that can be changed quickly from language to language.  This will help more fully utilize the resources that you have.

Comments (4)

  1. That’s right, the well known Dr. International now has a blog, subtitled Thoughts, tips, questions and…

  2. 1. Don’t forget to test on an English locale other than English(US) – even Microsoft coders make the assumption that an "English" user will have an English(US) keyboard language or other relevant locale settings are also English(US). This has been known to cause crashing bugs or other malfunctions.

    2. Test your software with roaming profiles over multiple language UIs – this also can be problematic on XP.

  3. MSDN Archive says:

    Michael, thanks for the kind words and the introduction to your readers.

  4. MSDN Archive says:


    Yes, I constanly need to keep reminding people that even besides England, New Zealand and the great Downunder use English too.

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