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  • Gilad Almosnino

Windows 10 Photos App Globalization Walkthrough for Bi-Directional Languages

Windows 10 is delivered with a dozen or so inbox app's that cover everything from basic productivity to creativity. In this Globalization walkthrough we will cover the Microsoft Photos App's.

About Globalization Walkthrough

Globalization walkthroughs examine international UX and functionality across a product or feature:

UX Design reviews provide an opportunity to ensure that international design requirements are taken into account and identify potential design gaps and limitations that may deteriorate the experience for international users. Functionality Reviews examine feature functionality with a focus on international environment configurations and use cases. Test Localized UI Functionality and international text input. Test End to End integration & cross-platform consistency.

Recommended Reading

If you are unfamiliar with design requirements for Bidirectional languages (BIDI) please check out our recent article on UX Best Practices For Bi-Directional Languages.

Our Previous Walkthroughs:

Microsoft Windows 10 Photos App

The Windows 10 Photos App aims to deliver a rich set of features for managing your PC based photo collection, our configuration consisted of about 100 GB worth of photos stored on OneDrive and another 15 GB of so stored locally on a Surface Pro 4 device with an SSD hard drive.


Setup was tough, the App UI was completly unresponsive and kept crashing unexpectedly while indexing our photos, this was frustrating to say the least. We let the App run overnight in an effort to leave it uninterrupted while it was performing the indexing operation, yet it kept crashing. It took a couple days for the indexing issue to sort out and for the App UI to become responsive. While this particular issue might not be related to localization or globalization, perhaps the poor performance can be linked to OneDrive infrastructure in our particular location and or the fact that the indexing is executed on the local PC rather than the cloud.

Here is a snippet of the event log:

The program Microsoft.Photos.exe version 2019.19061.18920.0 stopped interacting with Windows and was closed. To see if more information about the problem is available, check the problem history in the Security and Maintenance control panel.
 Process ID: 1798
 Start Time: 01d56fccfb5b4eac
 Termination Time: 4294967295
 Application Path: C:\Program Files\WindowsApps\Microsoft.Windows.Photos_2019.19061.18920.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe\Microsoft.Photos.exe
 Report Id: 0cc47b30-af2f-426b-b1f6-d668c14ee8d0
 Faulting package full name: Microsoft.Windows.Photos_2019.19061.18920.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
 Faulting package-relative application ID: App
 Hang type: Quiesce

Start Menu Tile

Once setup is completed the Start Menu tile began displaying photos out of our collection, unfortunately the Hebrew localized version of the start menu tile was displaying our photos in mirrored form. Bugs such as these are often missed when testing is performed on a non mirrored version of the operating system. In addition, over time we noticed that the photo tile was having sizing issues, often displaying content outside of the tile boundaries.


In terms of multilingual support, the search box is seriously limited. The design relays on the App UI language to suggest labels and location, limiting the users search scope to the UI language selection. For example, when the UI language is Hebrew, searching for English terms will produce very limited results if any.

Character Search which relies on Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the best example of multilingual limitation, as the App was only able to search for English characters within photos but not Hebrew.People search had images within the search filed displayed in mirrored form.Location & Places search was limited in terms of multilingual capabilities, leaving users guessing in which language was applied to the location tagging.Object search displayed some awful search suggestions in Hebrew, most likely the result of machine translation that has little or no context and or outdated terminology.Date search completely failed to produce any results while looking for Hebrew calendar dates, only Gregorian month names produced search results.

In addition we found that based on the based on the current design if a user elects to change the UI language then the App would have to rebuild the search index which is a huge hit on performance.


This is the default landing UX for users who launch the Photos App, upon first start a tooltip is displayed urging users to try the search field located on the top right corner of the UI. Unfortunately, the tooltip presented the label with incorrect text alignment and the developer forgot to mirror the screen coordinates leaving the tool tip to appear far from its intended UI position.

At the top of the collection tab is the action strip, we noticed that the arrow buttons used to scroll left and right were pointing at each other rather than away.

Browsing by date exposed a couple of issues, the first was a problem with the Hebrew lunar calendar date formatting which was displayed using a character prefix in front of the year. The second issue was the lack of support for alternate calendars for countries such as Japan, Korea, Thailand, Iran, India (Hindi), Israel, and Arabic Markets. In many countries alternate calendars are used to track national and religious events. Note that Microsoft provides a rich list of alternate calendar support in its Windows 10 Calendar App, highlighting how large-scale products often have international design gaps that boil down to individual teams.


Album tiles displayed cover images in mirrored form, the sort filter entries were concatenated incorrectly making a poor impression on localization quality.

Individual album pages displayed the Back button pointing to the left rather than the right, in addition we found that the "Created date" string unreadable because the reading order was not adjusted properly.

Photo File Properties:

BIDI users who elect to use Arabic UI will find that the file properties have a number of issues that are Arabic specific including a date picker that defaults to a Gregorian calendar rather than referencing the default Hijri lunar calendar under the Arabic user locale. Also some data fields fail to display Eastern Arabic digits.

Video Project

The landing page had a number of obvious UI Mirroring bugs, The Back navigation button was not mirrored, and the Undo/Redo buttons were not mirrored, which meant they were pointing at each other. The chevron separator within the breadcrumb navigation control was not mirrored and should have been pointing to the left. In addition we could not create video names using double quotes, In Hebrew double quotes are frequently used in word abbreviations. Users who create auto generated movies will have to manually enter double quotes by editing the movie.

Background Music

Proper globalization of a product should always take into account content, the background music selection offered by Microsoft in this app falls short of providing an inclusive experience for users located outside of western countries, for example:

  • Holiday Music: is based on bells and resembles charismas music.

  • Wedding March: "At weddings in many Western countries, this piece is commonly used as a recessional, though frequently stripped of its episodes in this context" - Source: Wikipedia

  • Clown show: Clowns are considered cultural icons in western countries, mainly the united states - Source: Wikipedia

  • Sundays: Sunday may refer to the weekend, but in many other countries the weekend is falls on Friday and Saturday.

  • Television & Simpler Times: both reflect music that is heavily influenced by different eras in Western culture.

Video Themes:

Users are offered pre set themes that can be quickly applied to any movie. Unfortunately the Theme Selection UI excluded preview videos from the localized builds, leaving users of non-English UI with no preview ability.

Once the video theme is selected the splash screen used while the theme is being applied was displayed offscreen on the Mirrored UI.

A quick review of the videos reveals a lack of character diversity and reinforces stereotypical gender roles. For example, the Electric video preview depicts men going whitewater rafting, hiking in the desert, and driving ATV's while the Joy theme preview depicts females in a family setting, running through the park, learning how to ride a bicycle and swinging on the swing set.

Story Board

The story board UI navigation controls were not mirrored correctly and are pointing at each other.

Titles and Text:

While the text input box appeared to be BIDI aware and adjusted the reading order and alignment automatically the design failed to preserve the reading order while applying the text to the video leaving BIDI users with left to right text layout and many reading order issues in titles with text.

The design also fell short of providing a rich fonts selection for non Latin based languages, leaving BIDI users with a poor user experience which included titles with two different fonts.

3D Effects

BIDI users will find that this feature is almost completely broken in Mirrored UI. Once the user inserts a 3D object into a video the 3D objects cannot be selected, rotated, or resized.

In addition we found that the 3D object library was not localized at all, leaving users who have yet to learn English unable to browse by category or search in their respective languages.

Video Inking:

Video inking worked well, had no issues with the exception of a minor bug in the tool tip text which was aligned incorrectly.

Video Clipping:

The video clipping UI had the back button positioned on the left hand side of the screen, this caused overlap with the window controls (Maximize, Minimize).


People are represented by profile circles, the images within the circles were displayed in mirrored form, adding a name to a blank entry revels UI out of the People App, we found that the search field had some UI clipping.


No issues were found in the folders view.

How Microsoft can Improve

  • Educate and engage Design, Development, Program Management, and Quality teams on BIDI market requirements.

  • Ensure Development and Quality teams perform product testing on Arabic, Hebrew, or Pseudo Mirrored localized builds.

  • Incorporate content reviews focused on producing a more inclusive multicultural experience.

Looking to create a more inclusive multilingual experience?

Check out my recent articles on the topic of multilingual UX:

What's Next?

The World Ready Guides plan to engage with the world's leading software producers by publishing product reviews that focus on software globalization, our goal is to raise more awareness within the design community by providing practical real-world examples sourced out of today's most popular software products.

Feel free to reach out, via Email or

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