The registries that operate the internet domains for Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein will allow users to register addresses that include up to 92 new non-ASCII characters, addressing limitations of the current domain name system.
DENIC, nic.at and Switch jointly announced the move, which will see these internationalized domain names, or IDNs, go live March 1 2004. It is believed that the services will use the new Internet Engineering Task Force IDN standard.
The DNS is restricted to the 26 letters of the English alphabet, the numerals 0 to 9 and the hyphen, which restricts usability for speakers of European languages with accented characters, and causes even more problems with other languages such as Chinese.
German people or organizations with umlaut-u characters in their names, for example, have had to register domains that use ‘ue’ instead.
The three registries will allow characters that feature accented characters used in German, Dutch and French languages. In Switzerland and Liechtenstein 32 new characters will be offered, in Germany and Austria, 92 new characters will be introduced.
Domains that use these characters will only be addressable with software that supports the IETF standard. The major web browsers and e-mail clients are expected to do so before long.
This article was based on material originally published by ComputerWire.