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Swiss keyboard layouts: German & French

    Question

  • Hi there

    I live in Switzerland. There are four official languages in Switzerland. When I tell Windows Setup that I live in the German-speaking part it installs two keyboard layouts, German and French. Why does it do that? Why would I ever write French? I don't speak that language...

    The problem with it is that

    • It's annoying to see keyboard-layout-switching controls (language bar, on the logon screen, ...).
    • I had to help many (not very computer-savy) people accidentially switching the layout to French. Would Windows install only the right Layout, the issue would be solved.
    • The Swiss German keyboard already allows to enter letters with French accents (éèç...).

    Now on to my questions

    • Does that happen in other countries (Canada, ...) too?
    • Am I the only person annoyed by this?
    • What's the best way to tell Microsoft about this?

    Cheers,
    Simon

    Thursday, September 15, 2011 12:36 PM

Answers

  • >What's the best way...

    In general, the feedback tool. But my team works in that area.

    Looking at what's going on in our code, it looks like it's always done this, though it's not clear to me why. Thanks for pointing this out; we'll re-evaluate that.

    In the mean time, if you really only use one language, it's easy to go to the Language control panel to remove the unwanted language from your profile.

    (The Language control panel is in the legacy desktop control panel area. A quick way to get there is to go to the Start screen, type "language", and change the scope for search results to "Settings"; you'll find it in the results. There's also a direct link from the input switch indicator in the desktop system tray.)

    But I want to check something: you say that the Swiss German layout is sufficient to enter French characters. Do you actually use French as well as German?

    If so, there are good reasons why you would want to keep both languages in your profile. For one thing, if you have German selected as the input language but you are actually typing French, you'll get words tagged as spelling errors and won't get the right text prediction. (Spell checking and text prediction are new features you'll see throughout your Windows 8 experience.) And since you do use French (I'm assuming here), you would likely be interested in seeing Web content in either French or German, or seeing which apps in the Windows Store support either language. The choice to declare one or all of the languages you use is, of course, yours.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011 3:45 PM
  • In your situation we recommend you to add English language and then change the keyboard used for English to the same layout you are using for Swiss German. In the language control panel, click on the options for English, and click on "Add an input method". You will get a list of all keyboard layouts that are designed for Latin script; type Swiss in the search box to filter the many available keyboard layouts to those with Swiss in their name. Select Swiss German. Then, back on the options page for English you can remove the default layout that was enabled for English. This way you can type Swiss German and English with the same keyboard layout and get appropriate text prediction and spelling for each language.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 11:02 PM

All replies

  • >What's the best way...

    In general, the feedback tool. But my team works in that area.

    Looking at what's going on in our code, it looks like it's always done this, though it's not clear to me why. Thanks for pointing this out; we'll re-evaluate that.

    In the mean time, if you really only use one language, it's easy to go to the Language control panel to remove the unwanted language from your profile.

    (The Language control panel is in the legacy desktop control panel area. A quick way to get there is to go to the Start screen, type "language", and change the scope for search results to "Settings"; you'll find it in the results. There's also a direct link from the input switch indicator in the desktop system tray.)

    But I want to check something: you say that the Swiss German layout is sufficient to enter French characters. Do you actually use French as well as German?

    If so, there are good reasons why you would want to keep both languages in your profile. For one thing, if you have German selected as the input language but you are actually typing French, you'll get words tagged as spelling errors and won't get the right text prediction. (Spell checking and text prediction are new features you'll see throughout your Windows 8 experience.) And since you do use French (I'm assuming here), you would likely be interested in seeing Web content in either French or German, or seeing which apps in the Windows Store support either language. The choice to declare one or all of the languages you use is, of course, yours.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011 3:45 PM
  • Wow, quick reply from the right person. Consider me very impressed!

     

    But I want to check something: you say that the Swiss German layout is sufficient to enter French characters. Do you actually use French as well as German?

    In short: I don't use French. Ever. I don't even understand French.

    Longer answer: I guess our situation is very similar to that in Canada. I speak and write German, in other parts people use French. I never use French - I just wanted to point out that the Swiss German keyboard layout also contains keys to write French. So if I ever wanted to write French I could do that with the Swiss German layout. There's no need to switch to the Swiss French layout.

     

    If so, there are good reasons why you would want to keep both languages in your profile. For one thing, if you have German selected as the input language but you are actually typing French, you'll get words tagged as spelling errors and won't get the right text prediction. (Spell checking and text prediction are new features you'll see throughout your Windows 8 experience.) And since you do use French (I'm assuming here), you would likely be interested in seeing Web content in either French or German, or seeing which apps in the Windows Store support either language. The choice to declare one or all of the languages you use is, of course, yours.

    Thanks for the information. You might want to know that I (try to) write English very often, without switching keyboard layouts. Maybe you should add language detection instead of expecting users to switch keyboard layouts?

    Since when is the web content related to the keyboard layout? Currently (Win7, Win8 beta) the region is used for that. And I find that choice odd too: Wouldn't it make more sense to use Windows' language instead? I use english Windows installations for various reasons but with the system region set to "Switzerland (German)". Some of the applications and content now shows up in German. Those applications should use English as well to match Windows, Office and my other applications. And Windows tell me that for example "Your system will restart next Donnerstag, 15.09.2011". Language hullabaloo...

    The current Microsoft Stores (Zune Video, WP7 App Store, ...) offer me French applications. I wouldn't know what to do with those since I don't speak French. This content is only interesting for the French speaking minority of Switzerland.

    I hope that clears up the confusion.

    Cheers,
    Simon 

    Thursday, September 15, 2011 4:04 PM
  • >Maybe you should add language detection...

    Windows does include language detection functionality (it was there in Windows 7). It's up to applications if they want to use it. But when the input system is doing text prediction, language detection isn't going to help: you can't detect the language of something that hasn't yet been entered.

    Web content isn't related to keyboard layouts. Rather, the languages you use are related to Web content and also are related to keyboard layouts. In the Languages control panel, you specify the language(s) you use, and then that will enable keyboard layouts for those languages as well as informing the browser what language(s) you use, and the browser will pass that on to an HTTP server when you browse on the Web.

    Saturday, September 17, 2011 4:10 AM
  • >Maybe you should add language detection...

    Windows does include language detection functionality (it was there in Windows 7). It's up to applications if they want to use it. But when the input system is doing text prediction, language detection isn't going to help: you can't detect the language of something that hasn't yet been entered.

    Well I have an idea here. If word n was in French, word n+1 will likely be French as well.

    Anyway the point is this: If I'm writing English I will not switch the keyboard layout. I'm used to the Swiss German keyboard layout - I'm typing way slower with the English layout (because for example the letters Y and Z are switched). If I don't switch the keyboard layout to write English, why should I switch it to write French? If you suggest that I do switch the layout: Why not add English and Italian as well, by default?

    Probably I'm missing something here...

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011 10:39 PM
  • In your situation we recommend you to add English language and then change the keyboard used for English to the same layout you are using for Swiss German. In the language control panel, click on the options for English, and click on "Add an input method". You will get a list of all keyboard layouts that are designed for Latin script; type Swiss in the search box to filter the many available keyboard layouts to those with Swiss in their name. Select Swiss German. Then, back on the options page for English you can remove the default layout that was enabled for English. This way you can type Swiss German and English with the same keyboard layout and get appropriate text prediction and spelling for each language.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011 11:02 PM
  • Thank you for the reply. I didn't know this was possible. I'll test switching properly when I use Win8 regularly. But it's a bit annoying having to do this manually when I know that Microsoft has working language detection routines.

    Anyway: The point was about the default installation of the Swiss French keyboard layout. That makes still no sense, because virtually everyone will use a Swiss German keyboard layout in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

    • If you insist on adding two languages by default to a Swiss installation please add English. There are more Swiss people speaking English than French. These days it's very likely to hold conversations in English with people from another language-region. (In the German-speaking-part 23.4% speak English, 19.9% speak French).
    • If you insist on adding Switzerland's native languages, you'd have to add Italian and Romansh too.

     

    Source for the cited data is the Swiss census from the year 2000, available here:
    http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/de/index/themen/01/22/publ.html?publicationID=1737

    Friday, September 23, 2011 8:53 AM