Friday, December 12, 2008

Windows Vista: The Multilingual Must Pay

I have a Colombian friend for whom I occasionally perform some basic computer maintenance. She, and her whole family, are relatively dumbfounded by some of the chores required to keep their systems working in a usable fashion. They rely on me perhaps more than I would like, but they're good people and these are the things friends do.

Last week her mother bought a laptop. As I write this she and her new computer are flying to Ecuador. Since I was unavailable last week, I had to do some last minute work yesterday. They needed anti-virus software, the kind that doesn't require ridiculous yearly fees, and to have the language switched to Spanish. The first issue was a five minute ordeal to download and install Avast!, my current pick for AV. The second issue took two hours and required a hack.

You read that right, you cannot switch an English version of Vista Home edition to another language without using a hack. At first I thought it was annoyingly difficult, but when I found out that it was impossible without paying to upgrade to Ultimate edition I was floored. I'm not the only one, check out the anger and confusion at Microsoft's TechNet Forums over this issue.

The solution, as I mentioned, is a hack. Vistalizator, though it has a ridiculous name, was able to change the language in a few minutes. After that, I could barely work with the context menus. Since much of the software was developed in English it turned the laptop into a Spanglish mess. Something tells me that is a perfect result.

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