Make XP speak in Chinese!
May 3, 2009 4:05 AM   Subscribe

How can I make my old laptop speak Chinese? Properly, to the same standard as a laptop from Hong Kong?

My Dad bought a laptop in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, it's a Celeron and runs like an old dog.

So I give him my (dual-core) laptop, which runs XP with the Chinese language pack installed. But he still uses the old Hong Kong laptop since it's in proper Chinese, apparently, whatever that is.

So how can I make my American-bought laptop use proper Chinese? Someone's suggested buying Windows XP Chinese, but wouldn't the Chinese language pack do the same thing?

Bonus answers for a Chinese-language anti-virus system that I can also understand (since I don't read/speak Chinese, alas)
posted by almostwitty to Technology (3 answers total)
Best answer: The full UI on Windows XP is based upon its region; you can't fully switch a US region copy of XP to a full chinese language version, as they're fundamentally different underneath. The chinese language pack gives you things like a chinese keyboard and chinese text support in apps, but the OS itself will still be in english. You can half-fix it with the chinese MUI over the top, but that's a bodge job that doesn't completely alter the UI from english, and I think was only available as a custom MUI version originally sold to businesses.

Your only real option to make him happy is to put a chinese region copy of XP on; and the installer will be in chinese too. The problem is of course that XP has been withdrawn from new sale now, except for OEM copies with notebooks, so the only legal way to do it would be to buy a 2nd hand retail copy, or buy vista business or ultimate and downgrade it via phone activation, but you'd still need a retail or OEM chinese XP disc to do the install in the first place.

The other option may be to jump to vista; that has fall MUI language support built in. If you have vista ultimate or enterprise, you can have multiple full or parent language packs installed at once, and switch between; any lower version, you pick the language at install, and that then becomes the sole full language pack (i.e. UI elements), but can still apply different keyboard settings.
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:39 AM on May 3, 2009

Note, you could switch the OEM copy that's on the laptop from china to your dual core lappie, but
a) it may not be a legal copy in the first place
b) if it is, you may not have an installer disc
c) even after that, it'll be OEM and is only licenced to a single pc ever; if you try and activate on the newer pc, it will fail, and phone activation support are unlikely to help you as you're not allowed to move oem copies between pcs. However, you might be able to use it for the install, then licence it over the phone by using the downgrade rights of a vista licence.

As to obtaining a copy without properly licencing it through microsoft, I couldn't possibly comment...
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:44 AM on May 3, 2009

Best answer: Yeah, the MUI (I've tried all sorts of variations in running computers in Korean and English) doesn't go the whole hog. There are many many apps written by lazy programmers (at least in Korean, I assume it's the same in Chinese) that don't do whatever is necessary to make sure the app knows it's in Korean, and so trying to run the app on an English install, even with the MUI installed, and you get random ASCII in the interface. This happens with all manner of banking security applets and such for my wife. In my experience this was also the case with an English install of Vista with the Korean MUI installed.

What I'd do is grab a copy of XP in Chinese, which is the only way to guarantee that your dad will get seamless operation in Chinese. It'd happily coexist as a dual-boot with English XP on a different partition (this is what I usually do with Korean). If you're familiar enough with XP, it's relatively easy to install even if your Chinese skills aren't that great.

Win 7 (just gone RC1) might have fixed this issue, and runs nicely on lower end hardware apparently, but I haven't tried it yet.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:00 PM on May 3, 2009

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