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Windows Vista MUI Pack VS Windows Vista System Locale

When my friends asked me about Vista MUI support, I used to direct them to one of my writing in WalkerNews.net, i.e. “Enable Vista Ultimate Multilingual User Interface” or “Vista Ultimate Supports Non-Unicode Program“.

However, now only I realize that not all my friends understand what I am writing about (due to my poor presentation skill and the command of English – shame of me)!
So, I thought of trying another post on this topic and hopefully this could be better.

Windows Vista MUI VS Windows Vista System Locale

These two Windows Vista features look similar to most people, but they’re not really delivering same functions as you anticipate! That was why I’ve written them in two separate posts.

Before going further, please be reminded that Windows Vista MUI (Multilingual User Interface) is only available for Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Enterprise editions (unless you’re using Vista MUI tweak tools, i.e. Vista MUI Tools solution provided by Same Frank)!

As to make thing simple, I don’t want to touch on Vista LIP here, which I’ve made in earlier writing. After all, Vista LIP is not really attractive as compare to Vista MUI!

Windows Vista MUI feature :

If your Windows Vista machine is shared among family members or colleagues who only speak with their mother tongue, then you need the Vista MUI solution.

For example, one of my friend parents are Mandarin literates and not really comfortable with those English UI.

Similarly, if you’re Italian who are working on a laptop running French edition of Windows Vista in Paris, you definitely wish to have a Vista MUI pack that can “seamlessly” transform the French UI to Italian UI, rather than have you to recall-and-guess what the French UI menus are meant for.
Simple put, Windows Vista MUI provides a translated version of most (if not all) of the Windows Vista user interface.

That is to says, the Vista Start menu, Windows Helps and Supports, Windows dialog boxes, Control Panel items, Windows Explorer, etc, will be shown / translated / transformed into the Display Language that you’ve chosen in “Regional And Language Options”!

As such, multi-lingual users don’t have to purchase and install different language editions of Windows Vista per computer hardware!

To enable Windows Vista MUI feature, you need to
  1. Download and install Windows Vista MUI Pack of your preferable language. You can do this via “Windows Update” program that bundled with Windows Vista or directly download Windows Vista MUI pack from Microsoft servers.
  2. Change the “Display Language” in a Control Panel item called “Regional and Language Options”. See next step.
  3. Click on the Vista Orb, type regional in the Start Search text box and then double-click on the item listed in “Program” list returned by Vista Instant Search.
  4. Go to “Keyboards and Languages” tab and click the “Choose a display language” drop-box to select the Vista MUI pack you’ve downloaded / installed. (You may need to click the “Install/Uninstall Languages” button to manually install the MUI Pack that you’ve downloaded manually, i.e. Vista MUI Pack hasn’t been installed via Windows Update program).
    English Windows Vista interface renders when the Display Language in Regional And Language Options dialog box is set to English.

Windows Vista System Locale feature

You prefer to work with English edition of Windows Vista (as most of the computers in your country / environment are running English edition of OS, be it Windows, Linux, Ubuntu, etc).

On some occasion, however, you desperately expects the English OS capable to properly render some of the non-Unicode programs / games / song titles that written in your mother tongue languages.

What to render non-Unicode Chinese characters of song titles in Windows Media Player of Windows VistaWhat to render non-Unicode Chinese characters of song titles in Windows Media Player of Windows Vista
Windows Media Player in Windows Vista Ultimate couldn’t display non-Unicode Chinese characters (left) until I’ve changed the default System Locale to Chinese (Simplified, PRC) (right).

In this case, you don’t have to install the bulky Windows Vista MUI pack. Indeed, you just need to change the Windows Vista default System Locale to match with the non-Unicode programs / games / song titles!

How to enable Power Archiver 2007 to properly extract Zip files with non-Unicode Chinese characters?How to enable Power Archiver 2007 to properly extract Zip files with non-Unicode Chinese characters?
Power Archiver 2007 couldn’t properly extract the Zip files with non-Unicode Chinese characters (left) but it’s working fine after changing the default System Locale (right).
Microsoft Windows supports Unicode since Windows 2000 (I recalled). For sure, Windows Vista supports Unicode.

That is to say, so long as the programs are Unicode compatible, Windows Vista is able to render the Unicode characters properly, regardless the characters are English, Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Korean, Spanish, Swedish, etc.

The Windows Vista System Locale is a feature to support those non-Unicode programs / song titles!

To change Windows Vista System Locale, you need to
  1. Open up “Regional and Language Options” Control Panel item and click the Administrative tab,
  2. Click the “Change System Locale” button and select the new default language (system locale) to use when displaying texts in programs that do not support Unicode. The new default system locale must match with the non-Unicode programs / song titles in order for Window Vista rendering those characters properly. (I.e. don’t expect Windows Vista could renders non-Unicode Chinese characters if the System Locale selected is Japanese related!)

Special notes on Windows System Locale
  • The default system locale supports only one locale at a time. I.e. if the default system local set to support Chinese characters set, it can’t properly display the Japanese characters in non-Unicode Japanese programs / song titles, etc.
  • Once you’ve changed the System Locale to Chinese, all subsequent installation of multi-lingual programs (e.g. Nero, Google Toolbar, Nvidia display driver update, etc) will be installed with UI language according to the new default System Locale (unless the multi-lingual programs offer installation switch or the setup will explicitly prompt user to choose the UI language)!
  • Changing Windows Vista System Locale requires a system reboot. Having say that, you might be troubled to change System Locale back to English and reboot Vista before installing a new multi-lingual program that defaulted to refer System Locale (i.e. there is no explicit way to allow user opting UI language during installation).
  • Changing the default System Locale will affects all user accounts on the computer

Verdict – Windows Vista MUI VS Windows Vista System Locale

Installing Windows Vista MUI pack is not capable to properly render non-Unicode programs / games / songs titles that speak the same language of “Display Language” you’ve configured.

Likewise, changing Windows Vista System Locale will not translate / transform Windows UI.

Both are built and exist for different functions!

Windows Vista MUI transforms / translates Windows Vista user interface to the “Display Language” you’ve set.

Windows Vista System Locale is used to properly render characters in non-Unicode programs / games / song titles, etc, so long as they’re matching with the new default system locale that you’ve set.

Am I making it clear now, or you’re still confused with my presentation?

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  1. Jake 29-06-08@10:10

    Thanks for this article! I was having trouble figuring out the MUI.

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  3. blurp 11-12-08@10:40

    after reading ur post, i have a very clear image of what is mui. now i know the way to turn the boxes (weird char) into something readable :) thanks for the clear information

  4. Tim Lee 05-03-09@00:01


    This was an excellent post on MUI vs. System Locale. I did have a question though. My vista runs in English and 95% of my programs require english. However, for a few programs, I changed to the Vista System Locale to Chinese to install the few other Chinese programs.

    It works perfectly until I change the Vista System Locale back to English. Then the menus no longer work properly. It’s very frustrating. Is there anyway to set it so that when the program is installed in Chinese, that the menus/interface will remain Chinese even when I need to change the Vista System Locale back to English?

    I can’t for the life of me figure out how to do this, nor can I find any information on this on the web. *sigh* I’d greatly appreciate any help you could provide.

    Thank you so much,

  5. Walker 06-03-09@00:49

    You could try AppLocale, which I think should works for your case.

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  7. raindrop 14-09-09@07:14

    First of all thanx a lot for this post!
    I’ll quote a bit of it : “Windows Vista System Locale is used to properly render characters in non-Unicode programs / games / song titles, etc, so long as they’re matching with the new default system locale that you’ve set.”

    This is the part where my problem is described. To get more concrete: I am listening to music from all over the world and wmp never displayes the non-english song titles and artists properly. such languages are swedish, russian, icelandic, greek. I have set the locale to greek, but in this case all other langs aren’t displayed properly. what else can be done????

    thnx in advance.

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