I’m usually not very vocal about general computer issues I have, but one in a while, I watch a product, and literally balk. Google has it’s own problems in this regard, but what I’m now to describe, is about Microsoft, and their beloved X-Box.

About half a year ago I got myself an X-Box 360, bought at a local store, making the internal and default settings for “German in Switzerland” (de_CH). I’m Norwegian, and still not comfortable with my German skills. So when I initially set up the box, I was a bit bummed to see the language choices for locale “Schweitz”: German, French, and Italian. There was no choice to have the box set up in English…

Then the box downloaded a patch, and I went to the settings, and that was fixed, I could finally choose to be in Switzerland (where I live), and use English as my language. And I set up a live Gold account. I was once again given the choice: Do I want account related newsletters in German, French or Italian. … Well, as I guess the newsletters and other such information are specifically authored for the given Country, I chose German, as I can at least understand some of it.

Then the x-Box seemed to suddenly decide I wanted it all in German. Despite having the X-Box language settings explicitly to English, I still get most titles and descriptions in German. But interestingly enough, not all of them! Examples like this:

EDIT: Screenshot has been redacted, probably by request from Microsoft

As you see, most of the texts are in German, despite my language settings, but two (on this screen), My Apps (Should have been Meine Apps in German), and Search (ditto for Suche)… I’m also wondering if the word “social” isn’t translated too, but there my limited German skills kick in.

Also If I change to my Norwegian X-Box user (yes, I have both), Most strings are in English, as Norwegian isn’t a supported language. But some strings are translated anyway… Specifically Select -> “Velg”, but not always. Sometime it’s “Select” anyway…


I have done my share of i18n (Internationalization) and l10n (Localization) work through my time at Google, and I know it’s hard. And even more difficult to make it right and feel natural in all the language settings provided, but this is honestly the worst mix-up I’ve seen in a really long time…

So to Microsoft: Please test your devices with non-standard language settings, and make sure it still looks good. So here’s my bug-report. Don’t call me, fix the bug.


Title: Problems with translation selection on X-Box with non-standard settings.

Default settings of X-Box (aka bought in): Switzerland with German language. System Locale (manual settings): English (qwerty keyboard) in Switzerland. X-Box Live account registered in Switzerland with German as preferred language (English wasn’t available).

  • Problem: Text on the X-Box is alternately translated to German and not, most of it translated.
  • Expected: All text should adhere to Locale settings when available: English.

Alternative Live account: Norwegian registered with English language.

  • Problem: Some text on the X-Box is alternately translated to Norwegian.
  • Expected: All text should adhere to Locale settings when available: English.