Windows Phone 7 Mango East Asian language tidbits

During MIX11 last month, Microsoft announced they would introduce support for an additional 16 languages in Windows Phone 7 “Mango” including the highly anticipated East Asian languages including but not limited to Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Shortly afterwards I learned about some additional tidbits that I forgot to write about, so here it is, better late than never.

As illustrated on the keynote slide above, East Asian support is not only the introduction of a new character set but actually a slightly modified implementation of the Metro design language.

To accommodate the bigger size of character-based writing, the Windows Phone design team is adopting a vertical text layout to reduce the amount of text clipping that would occur more frequently (than it already does). The vertical text will not be limited to just the date and time on the lock screen but will also be featured in hubs (panoramas) and other native apps.

Unfortunately for third-party developers and designers, Microsoft had indicated the vertical layout will not be automatically available to third-party applications. Of course I presume there will be nothing to stop apps from emulating the look, just these layouts probably won’t be supported in the native panorama templates that ship with the official SDK.

Furthermore, it wouldn’t be surprising if these East Asian changes is part of a broader Metro refresh for Mango as well. After all, in a meeting with the Windows Phone design team shortly after WP7’s launch, they had already indicated they were hard at work on the evolution of Metro.

31 insightful thoughts

  1. Would text clipping really occur more frequently with East Asian scripts? I really would have thought the opposite to be true, even if the font size is increased. Expressing the date and time is a good example – month names are generally significantly longer in English than in Japanese, for instance (compare ‘September’ and ‘9月’).

    Any idea on how vertical text might be used in hubs? Relocating title text from the top row to a vertical column format sounds wasteful of space, so presumably that’s not it.

    It would be very nice if the East Asian IMEs were made available for anyone to install – is that too much to hope for?

    1. Yep, I also fail to see what this change has to do with clipping. However you look at it, 火曜日 is shorter than Tuesday, and 四月 is shorter than April (and let’s not even start about September or December). Even if we look at hubs, 写真 is still shorter than Pictures or even Photos and that’s the case for most other titles as well.

      I really like what they did, but I highly doubt that it has anything to do with clipping, and I’d really like to see how this works in hubs with panoramas.

    1. Ditto! All Nokia phones support Arabic very well, and Nokia has a majority in the Middle Eastern and Gulf market. It would be a very bad move to completely switch to Windows Phone OS if it doesn’t support Arabic yet. So I guess Microsoft should get busy implementing RTL and complex script supports for Arabic ASAP.

    2. I can wait for the Arabic UI, but I can’t understand why they launched the device in Arabic countries with no Arabic support!

      Right now you can only read contacts and SMS in Arabic, but there’s no Arabic keyboard, And you can’t even read Arabic websites!

      And don’t get me started on the Marketplace, Xbox Live, Bing local support!

      People here absolutely love the phone, but get really disappointed once they know that it has no Arabic support.

      So everyone just keep buying iPhones, which if you want to buy it now (from the main retailer) you have to wait a long long time, even with the hefty 1000$ price, even with the near launch of iPhone 5

    1. Yes, hopefully. I’m working on a WPF app and I’d like to localize it for east asian vertical text . I hope they hurry up with it.

    2. DirectWrite supports vertical text only recently (2013 DWRITE_READING_DIRECTION_TOP_TO_BOTTOM). GDI+ supported it since I think it was first released (1.0 StringFormatFlagsDirectionVertical). None of the XAML lineage supports it now (WPF, Silverlight, WinRT XAML).

  2. the first thing I thought of when I saw the picture was ATT. The colors and even the logo with two spheres merging almost into an ATT logo. Am I just making this up?

  3. I love this approach and I especially like how they’re going with the right-to-left format as well.

  4. Does anybody know where to get the lockscreen / wallpaper with the waterfall as seen above? Can’t find it anywhere…

      1. Found it! Although the colors seem to be a little different. Thanks for your help! 🙂

  5. 好吧,我不得不说,对于中国人还是有中文版的比较好!英语水平不行

  6. Will East Asian language support be limited only to East Asia? What about East Asian language support in the US and European countries? People do need to communicate in various languages for whatever reason business or personal.

  7. I am writing this to express my deep frustration and disappointed from WP7 and the way Microsoft treat ARABIC speaker .

    why there is no time line to support Arabic language?

    Is this a new discovered language to Microsoft ? Or is it a language from MARS??!!

    This is not acceptable at all, because simply MICROSOFT are telling all the Arabic PEOPLE:

    “ok ,Arabian people you are not considered now, u have to wait forever until we fix all other issues with this shitty OS!!…but hay…don’t forget to buy our WP7 devices that are filling all the Arab countries markets!!!”

    How come you didn’t considered in your plans such an important thing?

    This is very bad image to WP7, tell me now how you can even think of competing with IPhone or Andriod ? at least they are considering ARBIC people on their development plans.

    I am sending this email to every mobile place I know, and I will try to warn people in whatever WP7 forums or groups about this miss treatments to customer and the amount of ignorance we face with you Microsoft.

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