[I18n-sig] Major Enhancements to the Unicode Standard: Enabling International Domain Names, Expanding Worldwide Accessibility, and Reducing the Digital Divide

Magda Danish (Unicode) v-magdad at microsoft.com
Wed Aug 27 07:11:25 EDT 2003

Major Enhancements to the Unicode Standard: 
Enabling International Domain Names, Expanding Worldwide Accessibility, and Reducing the Digital Divide 

Mountain View, CA, August 27, 2003 -- The Unicode® Consortium and Addison-Wesley announce publication of Version 4.0 of the Unicode Standard. Unicode is the fundamental specification for the representation of text, at the core of all modern software, programming languages, and standards, including Windows, Java, C#, Perl, XML, HTML, DB2, Oracle, and many others.

Unicode is also central to the new internationalized domain names, which allow everyone in the world to have URLs in their own languages. This is yet another case where Unicode opens the door to more of the world's different cultures, helping to break down the digital divide.

Version 4.0 strengthens Unicode support for worldwide communication, software availability, and publishing. The text has been extensively rewritten, and incorporates specifications that were previously only available as separate documents. The clarified specification of conformance requirements incorporates the most highly developed character encoding model in existence, encompassing the wide variety of types of characters needed by the world's languages, and permitting compatibility with all modern computer architectures.

Record-breaking character content 

Version 4.0 encodes over 96,000 characters, twice as many as Version 3.0, and includes two record-breaking collections of encoded characters. The largest encoded character collection for Chinese characters in the history of computing has doubled in size yet again to encompass over 2000 years of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese literary usage, including all the main classical dictionaries of these languages. Version 4.0 also encodes the largest set of characters for mathematical and technical publishing in existence. The character repertoires of Version 4.0 and International Standard ISO/IEC 10646 are fully synchronized.

Reducing the digital divide 

To meet the needs of all linguistic communities, the Unicode Standard and associated standards are continually being extended, not only in terms of the addition of characters, but also in specifying *how* those characters work, such as:

- how text sorts or matches in different languages 
- how text behaves for East Asian languages (e.g. vertically) or in Middle Eastern languages (from right to left) 
- how text should upper- or lowercase 
- how text breaks into lines or words 
- how text behaves in Regular Expressions (a key tool used in a vast number of web servers) 

Small linguistic communities all over the world have the opportunity to get mainstream software working right out of the box, instead of waiting years for special adaptations that may never come.

For more information on the scripts encoded in the Unicode Standard, see http://www.unicode.org/versions/Unicode4.0.0/ 

Version 4.0 is published by Addison-Wesley (ISBN 0-321-18578-1), and is available from the Unicode Consortium or through the book trade. The text and code charts of Version 4.0 are also available on the Consortium's Web site www.unicode.org.

About the Unicode Consortium 

The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit organization founded to develop, extend and promote use of the Unicode Standard, which specifies the representation of text in modern software products and standards. 

Members of the Consortium are a broad spectrum of corporations and organizations in the computer and information technology industry. Full members are: Adobe Systems, Apple Computer, Basis Technology, Government of India (Ministry of Information Technology), Government of Pakistan (National Language Authority), HP, IBM, Justsystem, Microsoft, Oracle, PeopleSoft, RLG, SAP, Sun Microsystems, and Sybase.

Membership in the Unicode Consortium is open to organizations and individuals anywhere in the world who support the Unicode Standard and wish to assist in its extension and implementation.

For additional information on Unicode, contact the Unicode Consortium, 650-693-3921 

About Addison-Wesley 

Addison-Wesley (www.awprofessional.com) is the leading publisher of quality computer science and engineering books and software for technical professionals, developed and authored by the world's leading technology experts.  It is a unit of Pearson Technology Group, the world's largest provider of consumer and professional computer, information technology, engineering and reference content.  Pearson Technology Group is an operating unit of Pearson Education, the world's leading educational publisher. 

Pearson Education is part of Pearson plc (NYSE: PSO), the international media company. 

For more information on The Unicode Standard, Version 4.0, see: 

Corporate Sales and Press Information: 
Heather Mullane 
heather.mullane at aw.com 

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