Microsoft's Tablet PC to learn more languages

Microsoft is working on software that will add basic support for eight more languages to its Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system, it said Wednesday.

The Multilingual User Interface & Recognizer Pack, due out in July, will allow users to switch the language of the user interface to Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish, Microsoft said in a statement released at the CeBIT technology trade show here. The user interface includes help files and dialog boxes in the operating system.

The update pack, of which Microsoft released a beta version Wednesday, will also include handwriting recognition for Spanish, enabling users to translate notes written in Spanish into text. Handwriting recognition for the other newly supported languages won't be out for a while. A Dutch version, for example, won't be available until 2005, a Microsoft spokesman said.

Furthermore, the update pack allows developers to program in their native language and deploy their applications in other languages, Microsoft said. To date, Tablet PC only supports English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese.

The beta version of the Multilingual User Interface & Recognizer Pack will be offered only to a select group of users, while the final version will likely be a free update to Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, the Microsoft spokesman said.

The Tablet PC software, announced in November last year, allows users to write directly on the screen of a notebook computer using a stylus, much like with a PDA (personal digital assistant). Users can convert and save handwritten notes as ASCII text when handwriting recognition is provided, or store the notes as a graphics file.