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    SubjectRe: Comments on Microsoft Open Source documentA
       Date: 	Sat, 7 Nov 1998 22:22:36 -0800 (PST)
    From: Alex Belits <>

    4. Unicode makes a displaying problem non-issue (all characters are in
    one huge font) at the price of modifying all string-handling routines.
    That however includes complete incompatibility with existing charsets,
    and lack of language-labeling.

    The reality is that you have to odify all string-handling routines
    anyway, because of languages like Chinese where 8-bit characters simply
    aren't enough.

    You also want to be able to handle multiple languages using different
    character sets inside one particular document, which is in fact
    *simpler* to do with Unicode, since it's all (as you put it) one
    gigantic font. If you don't do this, you end up needing to have magic
    character-set switching escape sequences (or MIME-style headers, or some
    other complex solution), and your string and display routines end up
    getting just as complex, if not more so.

    The bottom line is that doing internationalization is hard. As one I18N
    expert was heard to say, "It would be easier to teach them all English."
    Any solution will end up impacting some people more than others. It is
    no doubt true that UTF-8 may end up impacting certain people more than
    others. But the backwards compatibility aspects of UTF-8, combined with
    the undeniable perponderence of where computers systems are deployed
    (i.e., U.S. and Europe) means that it was inevitable that UTF-8 would be
    chosen as the most pragmatic solution which impacts the smallest number
    of people and allows for the easist transition to a full I18N support.

    From where I sit, Microsoft wasn't the only company pushing Unicode; the
    push for Unicode and UTF-8 came from all directions, not just Microsoft.
    Or are you going to claim that the developers of Perl and X are pawns of
    Microsoft? Instead, it seems pretty clear that Perl and X chose UTF-8
    because it's the sanest way to make the very hard transition from 8-bit
    characters to supporting internationalization, including character sets
    that simply won't fit in 256 character slots.

    Finally, what in the world does this have to do with the Linux kernel?
    Followups to /dev/null, please.

    - Ted

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