Typing in Indian languages on Windows Xp or Vista

Ever wondered how to type in Indian languages, say Hindi or Bengali, on your own desktop or laptop? Imagine chatting in Marathi or Assamese with your same-tongue friend.. isn't that cool? Well, here are some steps which can help you guys do it. In case you have Windows Vista or Windows Xp, you can do it very easily. All you need is your Windows Installation CD.

1. Installation of Language Fonts
Control Panel -> Regional and Language Options -> Language Tab -> Supplemental Language Support -> Check the first check-box "Install files for complex script....." -> Click on "OK" -> if it asks for CD, insert the Windows Installation CD and browse till "i386" folder -> installation over -> NO NEED TO RESTART

2. Setting up your Favorite Language

Control Panel -> Regional and Language Options -> Language Tab -> Click on "Details" button -> Click on "Add" -> Select "Input Language" (like Hindi, Kannada etc) from drop down list -> Click "OK" -> Click on "Language Bar" to see language bar settings -> Click on "Key Settings" to set language shortcut -> Click on "OK" -> Click on "OK" -> That's it! DONE!

3. How to learn Hindi Keyboard (or for other languages)
Before you can chat with your friends in Hindi or your favorite language, you need to learn the keyboard layout. That is, as most of you would have English keyboard, you would need to know which key in English would type out which letter in your language. Open the link Windows Keyboard Layouts and select your language. It opens a pop-up, which would show a typical keyboard layout. In case of Hindi, "Devanagari INSCRIPT" instead of "Hindi Traditional" keyboard. Press right shift or/and right alt to know more characters on that keyboard. In case of Indic languages, usually all vowels are on left side while consonants are on right side. Other characters are spread here and there, which you may need to find out as you need them.

4. How to write in your favorite language.
Say you want to chat with your friend in Hindi. You open gtalk and click on your online friend. While that chat window selected, you can click the "language bar" and select "Hindi". Now slowly type some letters by seeing the Hindi keyboard layout, you would see the Hindi characters on chat window as well.
What more you want? The more you chat, the more you learn.
The more you use, the more you get comfortable.

5. Some tips :-
a) a handy shortcut is "Left Alt + Left Shift". It alternates between different languages you have added. So, as you would need to alternate between Hindi and English keyboards for whatever reason, just press Left Alt + Left Shift and you have changed the input language.
b) chat slowly but as much as you can, in your language. I can now type in Hindi as fast as I do in English, only because i use it whenever possible in my day to day interaction.
c) as scripts for Indic languages are phonetic based, they have almost equivalent keyboard layouts too. For example, प (its English equivalent is "P") in Hindi and in Bengali is typed using same letter "h". This gives an easy way to learn various Indic scripts on computer.

I found this way far better than using google transliteration methods, as this gives you 1) to actually type in the script of your language instead of English script and 2) type exactly what you want, instead of walking through the guesses of google. In fact, it got me so interested in typing in Hindi, that I have taken a pet project to translate my friend's website completely into Hindi. :-)