Ulrike Irmler, Principal Group Manager at Microsoft, discussed the complexity of a worldwide, simultaneous software launch that involved more than 90 languages. In her presentation, Ms. Irmler talked about the different audiences the
Microsoft operating system has, and how this diversity requires multiple, customized localization strategies. This presentation also highlighted the fact that in order to participate in a large-scale localization project today, language professionals must not only have excellent translation skills but also a good understanding of localization tools and processes, as well as subject-matter expertise.
Ulrike Irmler’s talk, which had been advertised in the Monterey Herald and the Santa Cruz Sentinel, attracted a sizeable crowd of students, faculty, and members of the general public. Ms. Irmler’s presentation, the first half of which she gave in her native language of German (made available in English by members of the Interpretation Practicum course), focused on the difficulties of having widely different content (e.g. software user interface, marketing collateral, and forum content) translated for audiences with very different needs (e.g. private end-users vs. members of the developer community). She illustrated how the demands on her organization have grown from one release of Windows to the next: Process a growing volume of source text (Windows XP: 1 million words, Windows 7: 11 million words), in a growing number of languages (Windows XP: 77, Windows 7: 95), deliver localized versions faster (Windows XP: 120 days after English version, Windows 7: on the same day as English version) and do all of that with ever fewer people (Windows XP: staff of 250, Windows 7: staff of 100).
Ms. Irmler explained that the growing demands on her localization group are symptomatic for the entire software industry, and that these demands can only be met by constantly changing the way content for global audiences is created and localized. Microsoft fully embraces the outsourcing model, and in Ms. Irmler’s opinion, new business models like crowdsourcing (working with large groups of subject-matter experts that are lay translators) and machine translation (using automated translation tools for certain types of text) are here to stay.
About the speaker:
Ulrike Irmler has been involved in localization in different roles since 1997. Since 2008 she has been managing the Windows Localization organization. Her staff works in Redmond, Washington and 11 locations throughout the world. Her team is responsible for the localization of Windows Client and Server, all Windows family products and the international Windows Online localization, site management and publishing.