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How to Change the Language in Windows Vista

written by: Mark Muller•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 8/13/2011

Here you will find in a nutshell what you really need to know about language packs in Microsoft Windows Vista editions: the difference between a Language Interface Pack (LIP), a Multilingual User Interface Pack (MUI) and a Vista Ultimate Language Pack, their supported languages plus prerequisites.

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    The Purpose of Language Packs

    Vista language packs provide localized Windows interfaces (e.g. Explorer, Desktop and Control Panel) on top of the language-neutral operating system. All Vista editions contain at least one Fully Localized Language Pack which is the (primary) installed language such as English (United States) for example.

    A Partially Localized Language Pack has less than 100% of its interface translated and sits on a Base Language Pack, a fully localized language pack which provides translations absent in the former. For instance, the Greek partial language pack depends on the base language pack English (United States) - there is no fully localized language pack in Greek for Vista.

    A Language Interface Pack (LIP) allows for partial, commonly used items-localization of the Vista interface in a language different to and depending on a Parent Language Pack, a pertinent, fully or partially localized language pack supporting one or more LIPs. For instance, Assamese, a language of India, runs as LIP only on top of English (United States) as parent language supporting seven different LIPs.

    A Multilingual User Interface Pack (MUI) allows for a large part of the Vista interface to be localized on top of a partially or fully localized Windows Vista Ultimate or Vista Enterprise language pack. MUIs are also called Windows Vista Ultimate Language Packs.

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    Language Interface Packs (LIPs)

    LIPs are available for 32 languages from Afrikaans to Welsh, for which there is neither a fully localized language pack nor a partially localized language pack purchasable. All LIPs run on Windows Vista Home Basic, Vista Home Premium, Vista Business, Vista Ultimate and Vista Enterprise; in contrast to Windows Vista Starter which only supports a subset of languages. LIPs can be installed from the Windows Vista Language Interface Pack (LIP) CD-ROM, deployed in an unattended Windows installation or obtained from the Microsoft Download Web Site. The full list of LIP supported languages and for download. They can only be downloaded with a validated genuine copy of Windows Vista.

    Whether or not enough of the important information about using the system gets translated by LIPs somewhat depends on the user’s knowledge and experience with Microsoft operating systems including Vista. However, for day-to-day jobs, routine operations and browsing, LIPs are very useful to a non-native speaker of the system’s parent language and seem sufficient, whereas for using the full capacity of Vista or administrative tasks, some working knowledge of English or the Parent Language Pack-language is an asset despite Windows Vista help files being fully translated in LIPs.

    Depicted below you can see the partial translation of a Language Interface Pack exemplified by the Vista Start menu in Assamese on an English parent.

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    Partial Translation depicted - Click to Enlarge

    Assamese on an English
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    Windows Vista Ultimate Language Packs

    As opposed to partial, commonly used items - localization found in LIPs allow Windows Vista Ultimate Language Packs for a large part of the computer interface to be localized. Users of Windows Vista Ultimate can choose among 34 major languages in the Extras section of Windows Update. As opposed to LIPs are Ultimate language packs - quite large and high-quality. In fact, I have never noticed that I have been using something else than a Brazilian Portuguese fully localized language pack when using my desktop computer, which has English as the parent language.

    Depicted below you can find the complete translation of a Windows Vista Ultimate Language Pack exemplified by the Vista Start menu on my desktop. In addition can you see how I can change the display languages among Brazilian Portuguese (MUI), Assamese (LIP) and English as the computer’s “native" language.

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    Complete Translation depicted - Click to Enlarge

    Complete Translation of Brazilian depictedChanging the Display Language
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    Multilingual User Interface Packs (MUIs)

    MUIs are essentially the same as Windows Vista Ultimate Language Packs except that they are provided for Microsoft Windows Enterprise on a license bases. For Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise and Ultimate editions there are variety of tools and technologies for automated deployment of MUIs. Here is the link to a top step-by-step guide for MUIs.

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    Conclusion

    A Language Interface Pack (LIP) allows for partial, commonly used items-localization of the Vista interface in non-major languages. A Windows Vista Ultimate Language Pack or a Multilingual User Interface Pack, in contrast, allows for a large part of the computer interface to be localized in major languages, almost as if it were a fully localized language pack such as an off-the-shelf or OEM version in English (United States). As opposed to LIPs are Windows Vista Ultimate Language Packs or MUIs, available only for use with Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate and Enterprise editions, which need to be licensed.

References

  • Screenshots by the writer
  • Author's opinion