Ahmed Eltawil's Blog

Windows Mobile needs flexible language support

Posted on: March 12, 2009

I speak two languages: Arabic and English. So when I pick a cellphone running whatever OS I expect it to support international languages (or at least major popular languages). Nokia cellphones does a wonderful job supporting worldwide languages out of the box without having to add or install them manually which is a fact that may have contributed to Nokia’s massive success internationally. So if I ever received an Arabic SMS I wouldn’t have any issues opening the message and reading the Arabic characters on any Nokia phone.

On the other hand, Windows Mobile doesn’t seem to like adding support for one major language like Arabic. Which means there is a massive market that Microsoft isn’t profiting from nor does other major phone manufacturing companies like HTC.

I used to have an HTC Advantage 7501 and I was happy with it but I just couldn’t read any SMS that came to me written in Arabic. I searched the net for 3rd party software that could add support for the Arabic language onto my Windows Mobile device but I could only find one company and they didn’t look professional and it was also very expensive.

Honestly, people shouldn’t be buying language packs for their cellphones just to be able to read an SMS or open a certain website. Languages should be easily added onto the device’s OS with a couple of mouse clicks. Plus, it’s an excellent way to reach customers globally. BlackBerry does a wonderful job allowing the user to manually add and remove support for any language using RIM’s free PC software ‘BlackBerry Desktop Manager’. Why can’t Microsoft do the same for Windows Mobile?

It’s a shame that to this day Windows Mobile doesn’t have a way of adding support for Arabic. Some may say to me that the ever so popular iPhone doesn’t support Arabic either. But you’re forgetting the fact that Windows Mobile has been around way longer before we even saw the first iPod. There shouldn’t be any excuses.

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4 Responses to "Windows Mobile needs flexible language support"

In my situation, I need east Asian language input.With several hacks, I could view the glyphs, but to input text in the foreign letters is definitely more difficult to do compared to the option on PC. Well, most phones released for Asia Pacific might have the language of the most populated country in the world, but seems to neglect the two smaller neighbour it has (maybe because both has very different phone system).For Arabic and Hebrew, is the problem lies in the right-to-left direction of the language ?

@Seika: Well, Arabic is a right-to-left language but I\’ve seen it being supported on many platforms. Windows fully supports it as well as Linux. It\’s one of the major and mostly used languages. Nokia supported the language (and many many others) since day one. If I was to pick up a very old Nokia phone, it will still display Arabic SMS. I don\’t know why Microsoft\’s strategy is different in Windows Mobile phones when it comes to languages. Maybe this might change in Windows Mobile 7, but I doubt that I\’ll see any of this changing in Windows Mobile 6.5.

This is exactly also my opinion.I have a more general comment about Windows Mobile and that is some major functionalities of Windows for PC:s should also be included in Windows Mobile, such as language support, easy changing between active programs, … Otherwise it shouldn\’t be called Windows.

This is also my biggest complaint about Windows Mobile. I\’d like to have non-Roman scripts display on my Windows Mobile device without having to purchase add-on packs. A few months back I actually found a way to do this by replacing the Tahoma font in Windows Mobile (not Unicode) with the Tahoma font from Windows XP (Unicode). See http://thinkabdul.com/2008/02/26/tutorial-howto-change-the-default-windows-mobile-6-system-font-with-vista-mac-or-any-custom-font/. The language with which I was concerned was Hebrew and I was able to get it to display. Unfortunately, it would only display backwards because Windows Mobile does not seem to recognize Unicode Control Characters. I imagine that you will have the same problem with Arabic (and then some since you won\’t be able to do form shaping). Best of luck to us all in figuring out the solution.

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