Windows Vista Chinese Language Features
A Quick Start Guide to Chinese Language Features
Available in Western Versions of MS Windows Vista
Character Display Input Methods Fonts Language Packs (MUI) Other Features
All versions of Windows Vista sold in the US and other major markets include the ability to display and write simplified and traditional Chinese characters. Setup of Pinyin and other input methods is simple, several fonts are included, and fairly extensive help files are built-in. I will show you where to find all of this.
You can read and type Chinese in all major Western versions of Windows Vista, including Home Premium, Business, Ultimate and Enterprise. The high-end consumer and big organization versions, Vista Ultimate and Vista Enterprise, also include "Language Packs" that will change most of the Windows user interface - menus, dialogs, etc. - into Chinese.
If you have Vista Business or Enterprise, your IT department may have decided not to purchase or not to install some language features. Chinese features are probably also missing from non-Chinese versions of the low-cost Vista Home Basic and Starter editions, which I have not tested as they are intended for certain developing countries and not legally available in markets like the US, EU, Australia or Japan.
Following is a summary of these features, with links to my setup and feature detail pages.
Displaying Chinese Characters
Unlike Windows XP, Windows Vista does not require you to install files for East Asian languages as a separate step after installation of the system. It can display Chinese characters as soon as you start up the first time.
Internet Explorer and most other browsers will automatically display most Chinese web pages. In fact, many Chinese web pages have their own special display technology that makes this independent of your system. But in the rare event that Chinese shows up as "garbage" or empty boxes, try manually adjusting the encoding in Internet Explorer's Page menu, as in the screen shot here.
Documents in Microsoft Word and most other applications should also display Chinese by default. Problems may occur due to missing fonts. Try selecting the text and choosing a simplified or traditional font from the font menu. (The simplified and traditional Chinese fonts included with Vista are listed in the Fonts section below.)
Chinese Input Method Editors (IME)
Windows Vista includes several Chinese character input methods. The main focus of this site is of course Hanyu Pinyin, but I will also help you install zhuyin (bopomofo) input.
You can use Pinyin to enter both simplified and traditional characters. The Chinese (PRC) Microsoft Pinyin IME supports both styles. The Chinese (Taiwan) Microsoft New Phonetic IME supports traditional characters only.
The option to set the PRC Pinyin input method to traditional characters is new in Vista. You can of course also use the Taiwan Pinyin input method for traditional characters, as in XP. It's worth experimenting with both. This site offers the following setup help:
Vista Pinyin Setup:
1. Adding simplified Chinese Pinyin input
2. Adding traditional Chinese Pinyin input
3. Adjusting the Language Bar and shortcuts
4. Learning to use the Microsoft Pinyin IMEs
Vista Zhuyin (Bopomofo) Setup:
Typing zhuyin, using zhuyin "ruby" characters, and using the zhuyin keyboard in the traditional Chinese input method.
Chinese input method updates:
* Downloading and installing the PRC IME MSPY 2010 update
* Downloading and installting the Taiwan IME 2010 update
Pinyin Macros, plus more fonts and apps:
* Pinyin tone mark macro for Word and Excel
* A survey of free and commercial Chinese fonts and applications.
You may also be interested in my Word macro for creating Pinyin with tone marks using only the English keyboard, so you can avoid unnecessary struggles with your word processor.
Vista includes the following Chinese fonts. In most programs you will find these font names mixed in with others in your font menu, without any Chinese samples alongside them, so I thought you might find this list useful before I show you examples of Vista Chinese fonts.
|Supported by Chinese (PRC) keyboards, including MSPY:
|Supported by Chinese (Taiwan) keyboards, including MSNP:
*"HKSCS" fonts include Hong Kong Cantonese characters.
**PMingLiU is the default font for Chinese (Taiwan) keyboards.
***Simsun is the default font for Chinese (PRC) keyboards.
(Not listed here but also included: new fonts for Yi, Uighur, Tibetan & Mongolian.)
Notice that there is some overlap here. This is because the PRC keyboards support both simplified and traditional characters, but the Taiwan keyboards support only traditional. No surprise there. In at least one beta version of Vista I did see a mysterious option in Microsoft New Phonetic properties that might have supported simplified characters, but it was grayed out then and is gone in the final release.
For more detail, including samples of each font, please see the following pages:
Chinese fonts included with Windows Vista
Chinese fonts included with Windows XP
The high-end versions of Vista include "Language Packs" (formerly known as "Multilingual User Interface Packs", or MUI). Language Packs are included in the price of Vista Ultimate and full license installations of Enterprise. Language Packs will change most of the Windows user interface - menus, dialog boxes, basic help etc. - into Chinese.
It seems important to emphasize that this has nothing to do with the Chinese reading and writing features discussed elsewhere on this page. It only changes the interface. Many people are confused about this, including apparently some Microsoft support people...
Vista Language Packs change only the system and Internet Explorer. Separate Language Packs must be purchased for MS Office, and other software companies (like Adobe) may require purchase of entirely separate localized editions. But even this much is an improvement: previously, to get the same features in the last OS I had to purchase a special multilingual version of XP (see the link below). In Vista, Language Packs will be one of the first free online updates offered after you install Ultimate or Enterprise.
For more information, see:
Windows Vista Chinese Language Packs
Windows XP Chinese MUI Packs
Handwriting, Speech Recognition and IDN Support
As this is "Pinyin Joe's" website, you won't see much here about other Vista input methods, including handwriting input and speech recognition. I also don't plan to say much about international domain name support at this time. However, for background on these features see my earlier review of the Vista Beta 2 release.
I hope you have found this a useful introduction to the Chinese language features of Windows Vista. To jump to specific setup instructions, please see the links below.