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July 25, 1990

LEADING SOFTWARE FIRMS AGREE SINGLE CHARACTER SET FOR EAST EUROPE – BUT WILL IT STICK?

By CBR Staff Writer

A number of representatives from major Western computer companies met with East European developers recently and agreed on a single character set for the Eastern European personal computer market. Microsoft and Ashton-Tate sponsored the two-day conference in Budapest to discuss the establishment of standards for character sets or code pages, and for keyboard layouts. Delegates agreed on IBM’s Code Page 852 or Latin 2, which contains the Latin alphabet-based special characters needed in Eastern European languages, although it does not not contain Cyrillic characters. Former export restrictions meant that Western companies had little interest in the personal computer market behind the Iron Curtain, and as a result, it developed on an ad hoc basis with little regard for international standards. Although these countries often have two or more code page standards, most delegates acknowledge that it will be difficult to convince many users to accept Code 853. Some of the home-grown standards are long-established, and it will take some time before international compatibility over-rides national convenience. Ashton-Tate is setting a lead by translating its dBase IV program into several European languages based on Code 852, and Microsoft says it will do the same with Microsoft Works.

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