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Is it as simple as selecting a language while installing the OS? Download a language pack through Windows Updates? Do I need a specific download for Windows in German?

I've never dealt with foreign language OS's so this may be a bit of a simple question.

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Windows systems from Vista onwards (Vista, Server 2008, 7, Server 2008 R2) support full localization using Language Packs. You can install the system from any media, and then add the language pack(s) you need. After installing language packs, you'll be able to change not only the keyboard and regional settings, but the full UI language.

Language packs for client operating systems (Vista, 7) are available via MSDN or OEM channels, or via Windows Update; they can be installed only on Enterprise or Ultimate editions.

Language packs for server operating systems (Server 2008, Server 2008 R2) can be downloaded freely:

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=3162
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=12250

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If you are using XP, you'll need the German installation media. There are language packs, but it's not what you think it is. If you need the entire OS to be in German, you need the install media for the German version of XP.

If you're using Vista or later, you can use the Microsoft-provided MUIs for the language of your choice.

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Usually, the MUI variant is sufficient for every use case I had. In my old job, I always installed the english version plus german MUI where applicable, but that was for XP. It's more difficult with Win7 and the restriction to Enterprise and Ultimate for MUIs. –  Sven Feb 28 '12 at 14:38
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-1. GET MODERN. SInce Vista you do NT need german insallation media, some versions download the lagnaue packs through windows update. HThsoe times are over. –  TomTom Feb 28 '12 at 15:03
    
Wrong. That's what MUIs are for. –  Massimo Feb 28 '12 at 15:04
    
My mistake. I didn't realize that the MUIs were a complete transition. –  MDMarra Feb 28 '12 at 15:05
    
Actually there only is english windows by now . the german media has the german MUI embedded. But it is a core english version. MS finally got that right. –  TomTom Feb 28 '12 at 15:10

I personally needed a to get a fellow user's PC into German, and we wound up using an "anytime upgrade" to ultimate and then the MUI from Microsoft update. (This was in an SMB environment.)

MSDN Has a learning section totally devoted to MultiLingual User interfaces You can access this information from searching for "MUI" from the MSDN.Microsoft.com Homepage or via this Direct Link: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/goglobal/bb978454 From their site:

There are two main categories of language packs:

complete language packs
Language Interface Packs (LIPs)

Both complete language packs and LIPs are used to localize Windows UI, and both are built using the same underlying technology. However, there are significant differences between them, mostly related to the localization coverage they provide for the system user interface and the licensing rules that apply to them.

Ultimate Edition (and enterprise) users can download and install language packs from the Microsoft Windows Update site .

MSDN subscribers can download language packs from MSDN download center .

Registered OEMs can obtain the language packs as part of an OEM kit.

Enterprises can obtain language packs through their Microsoft Volume Licensing agreements .

Server language pack can be obtained from the Microsoft Download Center.

LIPs can be downloaded from the Microsoft.com download center .

OEMs and System Builders can download the LIPs from the OEM partner site and pre-install them or redistribute them on media.

For more information, see Local Language Program

Language Packs in Windows 7

Language packs contain the resources required to translate all or parts of the user interface (UI) of a Windows operating system into a specific language.

Language packs existed prior to Windows Vista, but they could only be applied on top of a specific language edition of Windows, typically English.

With Windows Vista and Windows 7, the multilingual user interface (MUI) technology is core to how Windows is built. In Windows XP and earlier Windows releases, UI resources were packaged together with the code binaries to build language-specific versions of the operating system. Now, UI resources are separated from the code binaries and packaged in language packs for all languages—including English. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, using this mechanism, language-specific versions of the operating system are built by assembling the language-neutral code binaries with a language pack that delivers the operating system UI in the desired language.

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We really do prefer that answers have content, not pointers to content. This may theoretically answer the question however, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. –  Chris S Feb 28 '12 at 14:41
    
+1: Well, it is the most thorough explanation here. It has pointers to relevant in depth content that is way larger than the whole thread here, so get real - this is a PERFECT anaswer imho. –  TomTom Feb 28 '12 at 15:09

Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate offer the ability to install MUIs over the english version. For everything else, you need german install media.

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I will be using Windows 7 Enterprise, where can I download or find the MUI's? –  Mike Feb 28 '12 at 15:03
    
Wrong. You can install language packs over any language, and you don't need any localized version (all of them are actually built by combining a language-neutral version and a language pack). –  Massimo Feb 28 '12 at 15:05
    
@Mike, on Windows Update. –  Massimo Feb 28 '12 at 15:06
    
And you can install over any langauge because tehre is only one langauge - english. ALL other langauges are english + language pack preinstalled. –  TomTom Feb 28 '12 at 15:08
    
@TomTom, I use Italian versions quite often, and English is not present in the standard installation. You need to actually install the English Language Pack in order to get an English UI. There's no "native language" to Windows anymore. –  Massimo Feb 28 '12 at 15:11

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