English, Please

English, Please

A friend in Saskatchewan recently bought a computer and called me for help. "How do I change the language of this thing to English?  Everything's in French on this new machine!"

Helpful as any tech support guy I reply without hesitation: "haven't a clue."

"Then why did I call you?"

After a bit of googling and some back and forth we determine several things.

First, it's easy enough to change the keyboard to another language.  This way you can type umlauts (ü) or accent marks (à) too your hearts delight.  But the menus and help messages are still in French.  Not what we want.

Finally we learn that with his operating system, Vista Home Premium, comes in a wide variety of languages, but only one at a time.  And you can't change it once installed.   There is a caveat here: hackware seems to exist that will allow you to void your warrentee, but it looked like a pain to boot (sic).

My friend opted to return his computer.

The most helpful fellow at the store explained "third time this month" and exchanged the thing.

Here comes the good part, if you've read this far.  It seems the fisrt time you boot up the machine, the operating system isn't even installed yet.  You are asked to choose from one of maybe 50 languages.

"English" is my friends choice.  Well enough.

Next screen: choose operating system.  He's presented a drop-down menu with two choices, something like this:

  • Windows Vista Home Premium - E
  • Windows Vista Home Premium - F

Mind you, no manual.  No other instructions.  You figure you've already chosen the language, so this must be different versions of Vista.  Right?

My friend is a mighty bright fellow.  He figures, well, versions A, B, C and D aren't there.  Must not be supporting those old versions.  He'd like the latest version, so he picks "F".

Wrong move, buckaroo.  Remember when you chose "English" before?  Well, that was just choosing the right keyboard language.  By choosing "F", you indicated you wanted the French version of Vista installed.

So bogus!  And it's a choice impossible to undo!  Thankfully, the store simply swallowed the loss and gave him an exchange.

So easy to avoid too.  Had the menu said "EN" and "FR", for example, you'd know. Or a frickin' sticker.

Well, it only cost my friend several hours, and an extra round trip into the city (not a trivial cost for him).  And it cost me a couple hours.

All I got out of it was this lousy blog posting.  Sheesh.

That's it.  Next time I'm going Linux.