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'Local' version of app gets misunderstood

When a localized version of a program is being used in a different locale, the AppLocale utility can help with language dilemmas.

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I bet there are as many "localized" versions of Windows as there are languages and countries on the face of the earth.

By "localized" I mean that the operating system, or a standalone program, has had its interface and prompts rewritten to match the language and locale it's to be used in. The Japanese version of Windows, for instance, not only has Japanese fonts and prompts, but Japanese input support, too, installed by default.

Sometimes you find yourself using a program in a locale other than the one it was originally written for. Because the program's internal settings may expect a different language in its host OS, the application may not function correctly -- its prompts may be garbled instead of appearing in the correct script, for instance. The best possible solution for this is to have the program creators recompile the program for a new target locale, but sometimes this isn't possible.

As a partial workaround for such problems, Microsoft has created a utility called AppLocale. AppLocale allows a legacy application to run with a different language setting than the one defined for it. This is typically done for applications that have not been written to take advantage of Unicode, or the double-byte language system that's designed to allow a program to use the entire available palette of languages and scripts available to Windows. AppLocale is often used to allow non-Unicode programs written in Asian locales to be usable in non-Asian versions of Windows.

When a user runs AppLocale, he's prompted to provide the pathname and file name for an executable, plus any arguments to be passed. AppLocale doesn't modify the original application image, but instead produces a shortcut that can be placed anywhere (usually in AppLocale's own Start Menu folder). Run the shortcut, and the application will start with the desired locale.

Note that using AppLocale will not address some problems, like prompts written in the wrong language. It is simply meant to allow a non-Unicode application to run as though it's being run in the locale of choice.


Serdar Yegulalp is editor of The Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!

This was last published in May 2005

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