Sunday, May 24, 2009

Uncovering Myths about Globalization testing- Demystifying MUI Packs

This post is a continuation of my previous post on the same topic and is based on the real time myths about Globalization testing as i have experienced.

Myth 12: Testing International applications using "Microsoft's MUI Pack" or "Localized OS installation" means one and the same thing

Before we get into the fact underlying this myth, lets get to understand what MUI Pack is and their utility in International software design.

As wikipedia defines MUI-
" Multilingual User Interface (MUI) is the name of a Microsoft technology for Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and other applications that allows for the installation of multiple interface languages on a single system. On a system with MUI, each user would be able to select his or her own preferred display language. MUI technology was introduced with Windows 2000."

e.g. lets consider if a user has Windows XP Pro English version running for her usage and for some reason, the user want to change the XP Pro User Interface to German language- this can actually be achieved by installing the MUI pack on English XP Pro which will give the flexibility to the user to change the User Interface language.
One of the practical scenarios where MUI packs can prove to be of great utility is for the support organizations. With the the unique business model that the Software products offers, it takes no time for a successful software product to be made available in different countries (of course after including proper Internationalization engineering). In such a scenario, suppose the product has lot of penentration in German market and at the same time the support organization is located in China. And if Chinese support engineer is troubleshooting the issue online with the German customer, he may need to see the application is in English, German or a more familier Chinese OS environment. This is where MUI packs can help! If the MUI packs are installed, then the support engineer can change the language quite easily at the run time.
Just a note that there's a notable difference in the way MUI was handled pre Vista and pro Vista era. More information here.

With this background about MUI in mind, lets take a crack at the Myth- "Testing International applications using 'Microsoft's MUI Pack' or 'Localized OS installation' means one and the same thing.

In order to test the International software, the Microsoft Operating System setup can be largely created in these 2 broad ways-
1. Microsoft offers different ISOs for different languages e.g. for creating a Japanese Win XP from scratch, one can install Win XP Japanese ISO on the machine and prepare what is being referred to as "Localized OS installation" in the above statement.
2. One more possible way can be installing the English Windows XP and then later on installing the Japanese MUI pack which will result in the User Interface elements to be changed to Japanese.

Though the test setup using both these methods provide a sort of similar user experience but there are some fundamental technical differences between these two types of setups as listed in the table below-

Considering these difference may be there will be certain consistency in the UI display when an application is installed on these 2 different types of setup but I18N testing may result in different results.

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