Monday, 13 October 2008


I was asked by a client today what the difference between a Microsoft MUI and a LIP. And, more importantly, "what were the application compatibility consequences of multi-language support?"


I thought I knew what a MUI was - the language and resource layer that you could add onto Windows XP and Server 2003 to fully support languages such as French, German and Spanish.  I remember these resource packs well as when they initially appeared in my MSDN Select CD binder - I thought that they were a god-send. After spending nearly a year on getting Windows 2K to (properly) support Chinese (all three types including Big5) and Japanese (hiragana, katakana and Kanji) through 3rd party software such as Twin Bridge's IME, I was ready for anything.


And, Microsoft's own words, the MUI is defined as,


"Multilingual User Interface Pack is a set of language specific resource files that can be added to the English version of Windows Professional. When installed on the English version of Windows, MUI allows the user interface language of the operating system to be changed according to the preferences of individual users to one of the 33 supported languages".



OK, sounds pretty clear… Now, what is this LIP stuff?


Again, referencing TechNet, "Microsoft Windows XP Professional Language Interface Pack (LIP) is a high-quality, localized "skin" for emerging or minority language markets, such as Catalan, Lithuanian, and Thai.


And, what is the difference between a MUI pack and a LIP installation? Get ready as,


"The main difference is in the level of localization in comparison to MUI packages: LIP packages provide the desktop user with an approximately 80% localized user experience. In addition, LIP doesn't allow users to switch languages. Once a LIP is installed, all users using that machine will have the same User Interface (UI) language. "


So, in summary it looks like the MUI is a "switchable" comprehensive interface while the LIP is a 80% permanent installation.





Windows XP Multi-lingual User Interface (MUI) FAQ's


Application Compatibility and the Microsoft MUI


Microsoft LIP Frequently Asked Questions

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