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Understanding Multilingual Deployments

Published: October 22, 2009

Updated: June 4, 2011

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

noteNote
This content applies to Windows 7. For Windows 8 content, see Windows Deployment with the Windows ADK.

All installations of Windows® 7 contain at least one language pack and the language-neutral binaries that make up the core operating system. Language packs contain resources that are specific to a particular language and are used to localize the user interface (UI). Because the language resources for the UI are in a language pack and separate from the binary code of the core operating system, you can change the UI language completely without changing the core binaries of the operating system, or you can have multiple languages installed on the same Windows image.

There are two multilingual deployment scenarios:

  • Deploying an image that contains multiple languages, but only one language is activated as the default.

    Licensing requirements state that Windows 7 can include only a single language, with the exception of the Windows 7 Ultimate and the Enterprise editions. These are referred to as single-language editions. When multiple language packs are added to a Windows image and a single-language edition of Windows is deployed, during Windows Welcome (OOBE) users are prompted to select the language they want to use from a list of available languages. Once that language is selected, and the computer is restarted, all other language packs will be deleted from the computer by the language-pack removal task.

    noteNote
    Language Interface Packs (LIPs), that provide localization coverage for high visibility UI, are not subject to licensing restrictions and can be installed on single-language editions, provided that the parent language pack is installed. The language-pack removal task does not remove LIPs.

  • Deploying a multilingual image that allows the user to switch between different languages.

    Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise editions can include multiple languages. These are referred to as multilingual editions. If you add multiple language packs to a Windows image, you can deploy the multilingual edition of Windows in a multilingual environment, and the end users can switch the display language between multiple languages on a single computer.

When you are planning a multilingual deployment, it is important to understand which multilingual deployment scenario you will implement. You should also understand the different types of language packs that are available and how they differ. Some language packs, for example, depend on another language pack to fully localize the UI. Once you understand the different types of language packs and their requirements, you should be able to determine exactly how many language packs you need to install. Then you can choose the appropriate language pack installation method and determine when and how international settings will be configured. Before you begin a multilingual deployment, it is also important to understand how the Lang.ini file and language-pack removal task will affect your deployment plans. This topic includes basic information about each of these subjects.

This topic includes:

Language Pack Types

There are two types of language packs: a language pack and a language interface pack (LIP). Both language packs and LIPs are used to localize the operating system UI. The only differences between a language pack and a LIP are the level of resources that are included and license restrictions.

 

Type Are all of the necessary resources in the language pack? Are all of the resources localized in that language? Are there requirements? Availability and usage

Language pack

Contains 100 percent of the resources necessary to localize the UI.

Some of a language-pack resources might be localized in a language other than the language-pack language. For example, some of the resources in a Danish language pack might be localized in Danish while the remaining resources are localized in English.

Language packs require the appropriate license.

Language packs are available for all editions of Windows through volume licensing programs. For more information, see the Microsoft Volume Licensing Site.

Language packs for Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows 7 Ultimate are available from the Microsoft Windows Update site. Click on check for updates and click on the optional updates link for a list of language packs available to be installed.

Language packs for Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) are available on the Windows OEM Preinstallation Kit (Windows OPK) and Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) media.

LIP

(also known as a partial language pack)

Contains a subset of the resources necessary to localize the UI.

All of the language resources in a LIP are localized in the LIP language.

LIPs do not require a license.

Because only a subset of the resources are included in a LIP, a language pack (or parent language*) must be installed before you can install a LIP.

You can download LIPs from the Microsoft.com Web site and apply them to any genuine copy of Windows.

LIPs are partially localized language packs for emerging or minority language markets where a fully localized version of Windows is not available. For more information, see Local Language Program.

*A parent language is a language pack that contains either fully localized or partially localized resources. The parent language can be different from the base language.

Language Packs

Even though language packs include a full set of language resources, for some languages not all of the language resources are localized in the specified language. In this case, the language pack is referred to as a partially localized language pack. For example, in the French language pack all of the resources inside the language pack are localized into French, and in the Greek (Greece) language pack the majority of the language resources are localized in Greek and the remaining language resources are in English (where English is referred to as the base language).

To provide a full UI, a partially localized language pack includes a base language to localize those parts of the interface that are not localized by a partially localized language pack.

LIPs

Corporations and end users can download LIPs from the Microsoft.com download center. OEMs and system builders who have accepted the Microsoft Software License Terms can get the LIPs from the OEM and system builder dedicated download center. Most LIPs can be installed and used on any edition of Windows. They contain only a subset of the UI resources required for a specific language.

Because not all of the language resources for the user interface are included, LIPs require at least one language pack (or parent language). A parent language pack provides support for a LIP. The parts of the UI that are not translated into the LIP language are displayed in the parent language. In countries or regions where two languages are commonly used, you can provide a greater degree of localization by applying a LIP over a language pack to provide a better user experience.

For more information about supported language packs, LIPs, and associated base and parent languages, see Available Language Packs.

The following figure shows the different types of language packs and language-pack configurations.

Diagrams of language pack types

Local Packs

Local Packs are not language packs. However, Local Packs can be installed and activated on Windows 7 to customize Windows theme choices, Windows Internet Explorer® Favorites and RSS feeds for a specific country/region. Local Packs contain resources specific to a country/region. For example, adding and enabling a Local Pack for the United States will add a market-customized theme for the United States to the end user's Personalization control panel and add a "Web sites for United States" directory to the user's Favorites folder in Internet Explorer.

Local Packs include:

  • Market-Customized Themes. These are specific for a particular country/region and include wallpapers, sound schemes, and aero glass colors.

  • Local IE Favorites. A Local Pack may contain a number of links to public Web sites or Microsoft Web sites for that country/region.

  • Local RSS Feeds. A Local Pack may contain a number of local RSS feeds for that country/region.

For more information about installing and activating Local Packs, see Add and Remove Local Packs.

Language Pack Installation

Before you add additional language packs to a Windows image, determine which languages, dialects, and fonts your Windows installation needs to support and whether the languages require a parent language, input method editors (IMEs), alternative keyboards, or input devices. You should also determine whether currency, time zone, or calendar formats vary between the different countries/regions. For more information, see Understanding Language Packs.

A language pack can be added to a Windows image during various phases of deployment. It can be added while the Windows image is offline, during an automated installation using Windows Setup and an unattended answer file (Unattend.xml), or while the operating system is running.

Before you add a language pack to your Windows image, consider the following.

  • Your image can contain as many language packs as necessary. However, additional language packs increase the size of the image, and time it takes to perform servicing and installation operations. Use the following guidelines to avoid problems.

    • You can add all language packs at once using the Dism /Add-Package command.

    • When adding language packs to an offline image by running the Dism /Apply-Unattend command from a full operating system host environment, we recommend that you do not add more than twenty language packs at a time, because packages are processed in a single session and memory limitations might prevent additional language packs from processing.

    • When adding language packs to an offline image by running the Dism /Apply-Unattend command from a Windows PE host environment, we recommend that you do not add more than seven language packs at a time. When adding packages using and unattended answer file, all of the packages are expanded and processed in one session. There may not be sufficient memory for all of the expanded packages in a Windows PE environment.

    • You can add all language packs at once using the LPKSetup.exe /i command on a running operating system. However, we recommend that you do not use this tool to remove more than twenty language packs at one time.

  • Some languages require more hard-disk storage space than others.

  • Adding language packs can increase the size of your Windows image.

  • Cross-language upgrades are not supported. This means that in upgrade or migration scenarios, if you are upgrading or migrating an operating system with multiple language packs installed, you can upgrade or migrate only to the system default UI language. For example, if English is the default, you can upgrade or migrate only to Windows 7 English.

  • The default language cannot be removed. It is used to generate computer security identifiers (SIDs). The default UI language is the language selected during Windows Welcome or the UI language specified in the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) command-line tool or in the unattended answer file if you skip Windows Welcome.

  • If you are adding a language pack to a Windows image in a Windows PE environment, you must add pagefile support to Windows PE. For more information, see Best Practices for Servicing.

  • Do not install a language pack after an update. If you install an update (hotfix, general distribution release [GDR], or service pack [SP]) that contains language-dependent resources before you install a language pack, the language-specific changes contained in the update are not applied and you will need to reinstall the update. Always install language packs before installing updates.

You can add a language pack in one of the following ways:

  • Offline installation. If you have a custom Windows image that you need to add a language pack to, it can easily be updated entirely offline by using the DISM command-line tool to mount the image and add the language pack before the image is booted. DISM can also be used to configure international settings in an offline image after a language pack is added to the image. For more information about how to do this, see Deployment Image Servicing and Management Technical Reference and Add and Remove Language Packs Offline.

  • Using Windows Setup. If you plan to use Windows Setup to deploy a multilingual edition of Windows, you can copy one or more language packs to the \Langpacks directory in your distribution share, update the Lang.ini file, and then use Setup to install the language packs that are in the distribution share. For more information, see Create a Distribution Share for a Multilingual Image. You can also add multilingual support to Windows Setup. For more information, see Walkthrough: Add Multilingual Support to Windows Setup.

    If you are deploying a multilingual image or have a Windows image that needs a specific language pack applied to a specific computer you are deploying to, you can add the language pack using Windows Setup and an unattended answer file. The language pack must be added to the image before international settings can be configured. For more information about how to add a language pack to an answer file, see Add a Package to an Answer File. To add a language pack and configure international settings, use the WindowsPE configuration pass to add the language pack and other configuration passes to configure international settings. For more information, see Configure International Settings in an Answer File.

    noteNote
    If language and locale settings are specified in an answer file, those settings overwrite any previous default. For example, if you first change the default UILanguage setting to FR-FR by using the DISM command-line tool on an offline image, and then later apply an unattended answer file that specifies EN-US as the UI language, EN-US will be the default UI language.

  • On a running operating system. If you need to boot the operating system to install an application or test and validate the installation, you can add a language pack to the running operating system using DISM or the language pack setup tool (Lpksetup.exe). You can use this method only for language packs that are stored outside of the Windows image. For more information, see Add a Language Pack Online and Add Language Interface Packs.

The Lang.ini file

If you deploy Windows using Windows Setup and you have added or removed language packs from the distribution share, you must recreate the Lang.ini file. Windows Setup uses the Lang.ini file to identify the language packs inside the image and within the Windows distribution share. The Lang.ini file is also used to identify the language that will be displayed during Windows Setup. Regenerating the Lang.ini file is also necessary if you plan to create recovery media for images that contain multiple languages.

You can use DISM international servicing command-line options to recreate the Lang.ini file based on any language-pack updates. Do not modify the Lang.ini file manually. For more information, see Languages and International Servicing Command-Line Options.

The Language-Pack Removal Task

Licensing requirements state that Windows 7 can include only a single language, with the exception of the Windows 7 Ultimate and the Windows 7 Enterprise editions. For these single-language editions, Windows will automatically remove all non-default languages from the computer. This applies only to Windows 7. For Windows Server® 2008 R2, you can install multiple language packs on all editions.

On single-language editions of Windows, all non-default language packs will be deleted from the computer. The language pack removal task will start 25 -60 minutes after the end user restarts the operating system. The language packs will be removed during idle time.

Running the Sysprep tool resets the language-pack removal clock. The clock will not start again until the next time Windows Welcome runs and the computer is restarted. If you customize your Windows image, consider booting to audit mode and making your customizations. The language pack removal task will not be activated when you boot to audit mode. For more information about audit mode, see Customize Windows in Audit Mode. You can also update your Windows image offline without booting the image. For more information, see Service an Offline Image

Using the SkipMachineOobe setting in the Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup component does not skip the language-pack removal task.

noteNote
The language-pack removal task does not remove LIPs.

See Also

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