How To... Languages

Squares instead of foreign language characters on Windows 8

Whenever you encounter squares in Windows 8 software dialogs, file names, menus instead of e.g. Japanese characters like in 火.txt, you do not have the corresponding language pack installed.

The solution is fortunately easy.

Make sure you are logged in with administrator rights.

First open the Windows control panel. If you don’t know how to find it, take a look here.

Next, click on Languages. You should see something like this:


Click Add Language. And select the desired language. Here we go for Chinese (Simplified).


Chinese (Simplefied) has regional settings as well. We pick one.


Now we are back, and see our changed language preferences. We can see our changes in the list, but the new language pack is not installed yet.


So we double click it, or click on Options, to open the Control Panel – Language Options dialog again. Here we chose to Download and install language pack


Here is the installation process. Depending on the selected language, and the already installed languages the packs are quite big, eg. 80 MB or 147 MB.

download-and-install-updates-language-packs downloading-chinese-simplified-language  the-language-updates-are-being-installed installation-complete

You may need to restart your Windows.


Now you should have the fonts installed, and should not see any squares.

Hope this helps… Just let me know. Currently it looks that the installation of additional language packs do not work under all circumstances. I have to dig deeper into it, and will come back with another article, soon.

For older Windows versions like Windows 7 or XP please check Janusz’ article here.


Software Localization

What the heck is a Windows language pack?

A language pack consists of different informations you need to work within a language.

The display language of Windows in example contains resources with all text elements of Windows dialogs, menus, output, and error messages, and tool tips.

Another important thing you need is the keyboard layout for the desired language. Depending of a language the keys on a keyboard have different characters printed on. Some languages have in example umlaut characters, like ä,ö,ü in German, Turkish, and Finish. Or accents, like in é, à, î, and ô (and more) in French, and their is a whole bench of other characters in other Northern Europe languages. Naturally this language feature is not limited to European languages.

But even if the characters which two languages or regions are using are identical, they may be used in a different order. Especially numbers, brackets, punctuations, and currency symbols may be on different keys.

Don’t trust my word. Give it a try. Visit an internet café or a PC in a hotel lobby, on your next travel into another country. Typing such simple thing as an email may be very challenging. 😉

A Windows language pack also includes sets of regional settings for Clock, Currency, number formats, and more.

Depending on the language, it may also contain fonts, or special character entry tools, like Microsoft IME for Japanese or Microsoft  Pinyin SimpleFast for Chinese.

More things to read

  • How to install a language pack in Windows 8?


Hope this helps. Just let me know, and leave a comment.