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Cyrillic in Windows 95/98/ME: "MS Multilanguage Support"

Paul Gorodyansky 'Cyrillic (Russian): instructions for Windows and Internet'

Windows 95/98/ME offers fonts and keyboard support for Cyrillic, but it's available initially only in a localized, Russian version of Windows and also in PanEuropean version of Windows 95.
In all other cases you need to activate this support by installing a Microsoft package called "Multilanguage Support".

Note. Microsoft uses Windows-1251 encoding for Russian -
"Cyrillic(Windows), CP-1251" where CP stands for Code Page.

That is, "Multilanguage Support" lets you enable CP-1251 fonts and CP-1251 keyboard.
Whenever you see "Russian" in Control Panel, it really means
"Russian, CP-1251".

Installation instruction for "Multilanguage Support" package:

The installation procedure is different for older and newer versions of Windows 95/98/ME:

Now you have Russian keyboard layout file (its activation is decribed below) and also you have now Cyrillic letters in the standard Windows fonts "Arial", "Courier New", "Times New Roman".
You can verify that Cyrillic now is available in these fonts:

Fonts are already active, so you can now read Cyrillic.


If you also want to write in Cyrillic, then you need to activate Cyrillic keyboard layout file (file itself is already in place after the installation of "Multilanguage Support", but you need to add Russian into the list of active layouts)
(I am using Russian here as an example, but the same can be done for another language available on the system):

  1. Start / Settings / Control Panel
  2. In the CONTROL PANEL window - double-click on the icon KEYBOARD
  3. In the KEYBOARD window, select a tab "Languages"
  4. Click on ADD
  5. Find "Russian" in the list and then click on OK.
  6. You are back to the "Languages" window and layout "Russian" is below the layout "English".

    Important! It's all you need to do. Do NOT make Russian your "Default" keyboard! First, there is no need to do so, and second, it brings a huge problem with Login screen (User ID and password usually are not in Russian, so, you will not be able to type them if your keyboard is in Russian mode).

    Make sure that you have option "Enable Indicator on Taskbar" checked (it's at the bottom of this window).
    It will allow you to see an indicator - EN/RU - at the right end of the Taskbar.
    As it is written in this window, you will use a combination of buttons LeftAlt+RightShift to switch between Russian and English.
    Click on OK.

  7. Windows activates a Russian keyboard layout file - kbdru.kbd.

Now you can input the text in Windows-1251 encoding ("Cyrillic(Windows), CP-1251"), by using EN/RU indicator shown on your Taskbar.
You can verify that immediately - choose in Notepad/Wordpad a working font with Russian script as it was described above for Windows 98/ME and for Windows 95, then switch the keyboard to Russian mode, for example, by clicking on the keyboard language indicator on Taskbar and selecting "RU" there, and start typing - you will see that you are inputing a Russian text!

Note. Many modern programs are Unicode-based programs
(MS Word 97/2000, Internet Explorer/Outlook Express, Netscape 4+, ...)
where they use a new approach to the input of national texts:
in the past with, say, Word 6, a user did 2 things before typing - selecting a Russian font and then switching keyboard mode.
Now, in these Unicode-based applications, it's all based only on the keyboard mode - a user does not select Russian font, s/he just switches keyboard mode.
Let's use MS Word 97/2000 as an example, but other Unicode-based programs behave the same way:

Keyboard stuff explained so far on this page is about standard Microsoft layout of Russian letters - for the countries of former USSR, where people use keyboards with Russian letters drawn on them.

Here is the picture of this standard MS Windows keyboard layout for Russian (in upper-case mode, with SHIFT key pressed to show you top row assignments):

Standard Russian keyboard layout

You can also look at this layout by going to Microsoft site, where they show pictures for all supported languages (but this MS page is not working under Netscape 4):
"Microsoft: Global Software Development - Keyboard Layouts".

But if your keyboard does not have Russian letters drawn on it, then you may want to use a different layout of Russian letters - a so called phonetic (or transliterated) layout:
Russian letters are placed on the buttons where similar English letters are, for example, 'A'-'A', 'O'-'O', etc.

Such layout file can be downloaded from my site where you also find its picture and installation instruction.
Please, see "Russian Keyboard: standard and phonetic" section of my site.

Paul Gorodyansky. 'Cyrillic (Russian): instructions for Windows and Internet'