Because of the many characters in Chinese writing, computers use 2-byte encoding for Chinese. That means, two ASCII together are interpreted as one chinese character. If you don't use software of Chinese origin, you will have to install some helpers in order to see chinese characters on your screen.
If you are using Microsoft's Windows 95/98, you may download chinese fonts for reading and printing.
Download Microsoft GB Font (PR China)
Download Microsoft BIG5 Font (Taiwan / Hong Kong)
Unfortunately, Chinese encoding is not globally standarized, so you will
have two install two different fonts, if you want to see webpages originating in the Peoples Republic of China and Pages from Taiwan or Hong Kong.
The GB-Code (guobiao, "national Standard") originates in the PR China and comprises some 6,000 odd characters. Big5, the official encoding for Taiwan and all texts with "complicated characters" (fantizi), can handle about 13,000 chinese characters. There are some other codes, such as HZ, but they are only of marginal importance for the WWW. If you need more in-depth information on these, I suggest you visit Liu Shunguo's homepage.
One of the most important question for you might be:
If Chinese is the only language you want to process on your pc, then a Chinese version
of Windows might be the best choice. You will be able to get it at your local software
store or directly from Microsoft.
If you want to use mainly some other language for text processing and so on, but also want to be able to write Chinese when needed, you will have to install some kind of software to make your computer understand Chinese.
If you just want to read chinese newspapers on the net and maybe print out some pages, then you will best install one or both of Microsoft's Chinese Fonts. Just install them by clicking the self-extracting packages and restarting your browser. If are experiencing problems viewing Chinese, you might want to check into Frank Tang's Homepage.
There is a lot of software on the market that makes your computer understand Chinese. Below is what I personally consider the best.
- Twin Bridge
- It's not free and not even cheap, but it's worth it's price. And I say this without being sponsored by them! Twin Bridge can handle GB and BIG5 as well as Unicode and HZ.
- RichWin for Internet
- Very clear screen fonts, so maybe even better for the internet. The only layback is that you won't be able to show you German Umlauts and Chinese in the same text.
- NanJi Star
- Those who use it, say they like it. GB, BIG 5 and HZ Code.
- Union Way
- A bit more expensive, very professional software. Can not handle German Umlauts and Chinese in the same text. GB, BIG 5 und HZ Code.
- Chinese Star
- THE official chinese environment of the PR China. Very good for pure chinese or english-chinese mixed texts, but cannot handle european languages.
If you want to get a general overview on Chinese software, visit the IFCSS webpages.
Since most of the text on Chinalink's webpages is German, we had to take .gifs for mixing Chinese Characters in our pages.