Thanks for getting back to me on this.
There are a few credible references to work that Microsoft has done --
and is anticipating doing -- to make their products more IDN-friendly.
However, there's virtually no detail about it directly from Microsoft
themselves...I suppose they'll tell us when they're good and ready.
I've inlcuded a number of relevant links and excerpts below.
Before rating this answer, please let me know if you need any
additional information. Just post a Request for Clarification, and
I'll be happy to assist you further.
All the best,
For starters, there's a good overview article on IDN (but without any
insight into Microsoft IE) from the Swiss Education & Research
IDN - Domain Names with Accents and Umlauts
[This anouncment from Verisign in 2001 includes information about
Microsoft modifying IE 5.0 in order to allow for handling of IDN's by
bouncing them to a RealNames server for interpretation]:
VeriSign Announces Breakthrough in Web Navigation For Tens of Millions
of Users Worldwide
Users can now reach Web sites via domain names in their own languages
through Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0
Mountain View, California, June 20, 2001-VeriSign, Inc. (Nasdaq:
VRSN), the leading provider of Internet trust services, today
announced that Internet users can now reach Web site destinations by
typing domain names with characters used in their own languages into
their Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher browser software.
These Internationalized Domain Names, or IDNs, contain non-ASCII
characters to the left of the "dot" and are available in more than 350
languages. Using technology from RealNames Corporation, Microsoft
modified a search function of Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 to
enable the IDNs to work without the use of special plug-ins or client
..."As a global company with a global vision, Microsoft continually
looks for ways to make the Internet easier to navigate for everyone --
whatever the native language," said Bill Bliss, general manager of
Search and Navigation Services at Microsoft Corp. "By modifying MSN
Search to let users directly access internationalized domain names,
Microsoft is helping to deliver the truly international Web."
[This link doesn't discuss IDN per se, but it does show Microsoft's
attention to the issue of foreign language characters in domain
Internet Explorer Parses Certain DBCS Domain Names Incorrectly
Last Review : November 26, 2003
When you use Internet Explorer to browse a Web site whose domain name
contains certain double-byte character set (DBCS) characters, the
domain name may be parsed incorrectly and you may receive a "cannot
find server" error message.
A supported fix is now available from Microsoft...
[the fix is discussed a bit more at this link]:
Problem: Internet Explorer parses certain double-byte character set
domain names incorrectly. This may affect Chinese, Japanese, and
Korean domain names. According to Microsoft, this issue only affects
certain versions of IE.
Solution: If you think you are experiencing this problem check out
this article on Microsoft's Web site.
[A recent article mentions Microsoft's "announced plans" to modify
future versions of IE to allow for more IDN, but a thorough search of
Microsoft's literature did not turn up any such announcements -- I
suspect the magazine might have gotten some off-the-record scoop on
Internationalized Domain Names
...The Internet is becoming increasingly international, accessed by
people who speak a wide variety of different languages. However, the
character set used by DNS and other core protocols hasn't kept up.
This must change if IP technology is to reach broader acceptance among
non-English-speaking audiences, and breaking the Internet's dependency
on seven-bit ASCII is a good place to start. One critical advance
toward this objective was made last year when the IETF published
"Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications (IDNA)" (RFC 3490).
IDNA specifies the use of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) to
display characters from foreign languages and alphabets.
.....To date, few applications have implemented IDNA's transformation
service. Among those that have, the implementations have been of
variable quality and aren't always complete.
...For example, the Web browser component of Mozilla 1.6 offers
support for IDNA-to-ASCII conversion, but not the reverse: It will
accept and process an IDN entered into the URL bar, but won't display
the rich form of one reached through a hyperlink. Mozilla's e-mail
client offers no support, so users can't enter an e-mail address
containing an IDN. Recent versions of Opera and Konqueror offer pretty
good support, although both still include some minor bugs.
...Microsoft doesn't currently offer IDNA support for either Internet
Explorer or Outlook, but has announced plans to implement it in future
[Another link that doesn't mention IDN's, but shows Microsoft's early
attention to this issue]:
Microsoft Global Input Method Editors (IMEs)
Published: March 18, 1999
...International communication keeps getting easier thanks to
full-featured, high-performance IMEs. An IME is a program that allows
computer users to enter complex characters and symbols, such as
Japanese characters, using a standard keyboard. Microsoft is now
offering two Global IMEs?Global IME 5.02 and Global IME for Office XP.
....With Global IME, a business based in New York could use its U.S.
version of the browser to send messages in Korean to an overseas
affiliate. And a student attending classes in Paris could write
documents in Japanese.
[A discussion of penetration timing if an when IE is made more IDN-friendly]:
Transitional Reflexive ACE û IDN Transition (IDNX)
3.1 Lengthy Transition & User Confusion
A key concern with respect to a purebred client approach to IDN is
that there are simply no efficient or effective means to distribute
the client plug-ins.
Even if we assume that a dominant software provider, such as
Microsoft, with their penetration into the browser and email client
market, was to introduce a new version of its Internet Explorer and
Outlook line of products with the IDNA client built in, it will still
take a considerable amount of time before these new versions reach
the majority of desktops around the Internet.
[And finally, the recent, -+formal RFC on IDN's, along with author
contact information, in case your in a corresponding mood]:
Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications (IDNA)
April 14, 2004
Arstaangsvagen 31 J
S-117 43 Stockholm Sweden
Internet Mail Consortium and VPN Consortium
127 Segre Place
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 USA
Adam M. Costello
University of California, Berkeley
Hope that meets your needs. But as I said above, if you need any more
information, just holler.
search strategy: Searched Google and several newspaper databases for:
IDN microsoft ie
IDNA microsoft ie
internationalized microsoft ie