Windows keyboard restrictions

Doug Ewell doug at
Fri Aug 7 17:01:54 CDT 2015

Marcel Schneider <charupdate at orange dot fr> wrote:

> I just donʼt want to let the Mailing List believe that I agreed being
> classified as «fighting the [bad] fight»

And I don't think Michael implied that. I just want to get the technical
facts, so that hopefully they can take the place of speculation and
presumptions of buggy behavior.

Please note that "bug" is not necessarily a bad word -- we developers
create real bugs all the time, and hopefully own up to them -- but it
rankles when someone applies the word to software that works as
designed, when that person either doesn't understand or doesn't agree
with the intended behavior.

> Thus, this blog post is biased with the authority bias.

It's from someone at Microsoft with expert knowledge of the Windows
keyboard subsystem, if that's what you mean.

> Iʼm not quite sure whether people are conscious that by contesting the
> accuracy of the original actual Windows keyboard driver header file
> (kbd.h), they are insulting the developer(s) who wrote it, as well as
> the company that stands behind him/them.

kbd.h contains exactly zero examples of keyboards with ligatures with
more than 4 code points. I downloaded and installed the whole DDK just
to find this out, not realizing I already had a copy in my MSKLC folder.

> For not wanting to make anybody loose face, I didnʼt mention that a
> copy of the cited and quoted header file is included in the MSKLC.

Yep, I could have saved a lot of time if I'd noticed that.

> The version 1.4 of which dates from Thu, Jan 25, 2007, ‏23:14:22,
> whereas the included kbd.h shows «10-Jan-1991 GregoryW» in the file
> history.

My copy says:

* 10-Jan-1991 GregoryW
* 23-Apr-1991 IanJa         VSC_TO_VK _* macros from oemtab.c

Looks like things have been pretty stable since 1991.

> Therefore, my supposition (I hadnʼt looked up that!) that «when the
> MSKLC was built, Windows did not support more than four characters per
> ligature. (Thatʼs the only straightforward explanation of this point
> of the MSKLC.)» turns out to be completely wrong (except the
> parenthesized disclaimer). I could become more explicit, but I just
> stand away in order not to heat up the discussion with ad personam
> conclusions.

Good idea.

What led you to the conclusion that this limit had been increased,
anyway? ("On my machine the maximal length is 16 characters.") I'm still
curious about that.

> I often wondered why the description page
> [] and even
> less the download page
> [] have
> not been updated (no mention of Windows 8 on the former, no mention
> even of Windows 7 in the system requirements on the download page),
> and why thereʼs no 2.0 version of the MSKLC.

Microsoft simply hasn't dedicated any resources (Michael or anyone else)
to updating MSKLC. Michael has blogged about this many, many times in
the past few years. Big companies make the decisions that they make, for
the reasons they have.

> Iʼm not here to criticize Microsoft. I ask everybody to be honest and
> to answer for himself one single question: How on earth can I prefer
> Bing if I were battling against Microsoft? Does anybody really believe
> that Iʼm annoying myself to find more bugs?

I apologize for my tone in this thread. See my explanation above of when
"bug" is an appropriate conclusion to draw, and when it isn't. That got
me started.

> Hopeful that this will end in a constructive way,


Doug Ewell | | Thornton, CO ����

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