Opera makes hay with MS Mac Arabic/Hebrew snub

alt.browser weighs in

Opera software has responded to the international outcry against Microsoft's lack of support for localization in its Macintosh products.

This isn't exactly news to many of you: the historic lack of Arabic, Hebrew has thwarted the adoption of the Macintosh in several markets: obliging scholars and ordinary consumers to turn to Windows.

In response to our articles this week, Opera has promised that its future browsers will
support both Hebrew, Arabic, Cyrillic and Korean. This capability will be supported in the Jaguar release the OS X operating system.

"Microsoft's decision to not support right-to-left languages was first reported by The Register in its article "Microsoft's Mac Hebrew snub prompts Israeli AntiTrust complaint", which describes how Microsoft's decision not to provide Hebrew support in its Macintosh Internet Explorer browser or Office suite has prompted a complaint to Israel's antitrust department," an Opera spokesman mailed us today.

"We have a long history of supporting cultural diversity through delivering Opera in a variety of minority languages that are often ignored by big business," added Hakon Lie, Opera's CTO.

Hakkon is the father of the HTML Style Sheet - and while at the W3C he advised Microsoft on implementing CSS in Internet Explorer. Since then he's been one of The Beast's most articulate critics on interoperability issues.

And Opera itself, we understand, evolved from the Norwegian government's concern that US-owned corporations would seek proprietary technologies that marginalize the rest of the world. So it's no surprise that Opera - correctly, we think - sees this as an issue of cultural diversity and globalization, as much as it is of anticompetitive business tactics.

Once Jaguar supports right-to-left, Mozilla will be able to support Hebrew too.

This still leaves the question of Office X support unanswered. And Microsoft just seems too busy to give us an official answer - despite the damage to its reputation for cultural diversity. ®

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