Forest Liu, a Mac user and advocate who works for Founder, one of Apple’s distributors in China, says Mac OS X finally lives up to its promise as a “global operating system” as of version 10.1, but finds that many applications still haven’t been localized sufficiently.
“The Mac OS X 10.1 CD has more languages on it and includes all the original languages and more,” Liu told MacCentral. “It can also be customized to install ‘language packs’ on an original install from the Mac OS 10.1 CD. I have no idea if new retail boxes of Mac OS 10.1 in the States have all the languages on them, but it is definitely possible to have all languages installed on your Mac now. Way to go Apple. Even the updates work now.”
Unfortunately, the situation with many OS X applications is not as promising. For instance, there are problems with Microsoft Office v. X, Liu said.
“Microsoft has always had horrible support for Chinese and probably for other 2 byte character languages,” he stated. “The new Office comes with Japanese support, but even that needs to be installed separately. Also, it seems that only the English language pack is shipped with the product forcing you to have to buy Office in the language you want in the country you want the language from, thus wasting the potential of what Mac OS X can do for you in regards to language support.”
Currently, Liu can type Chinese into Word but it always makes an extra space for each character. If he wants to edit this text, it gets “very messy because you have to place the cursor way off from where you actually want to type,” Liu said.
“The same problem has existed in Office 2001, and it exists also in FileMaker Pro, including the new 5.5 version. This is such a horrible waste of the potential this operating system has for true globalization.”
On the other hand, Adobe has had “pretty good support” for Chinese, Liu said, adding, “Illustrator 10 is wonderful in Mac OS X.” Still, the InDesign 2 beta doesn’t support Chinese and version 1.5 never offered “proper” support, Liu said.
“I couldn’t format text properly,” he added. “Justify and things like that never quite worked. I hope InDesign 2 will be fixed before it is released. It’ll finally help me upgrade Chinese design centers from the aging PageMaker 6.5 — the only layout application that halfway supports Chinese properly. Photoshop has been great since version 6, I hope they keep it up in version 7.”
Liu said that if developers don’t install all language packs to enable users to change the language of the entire software package, they should at least allow users to be able to input in any language. Mac OS X has exceptional support for this, and developers should tap this potential, he added.