Non-Latin web addresses have gone live today, in what is being described as a “historic” day for the world wide web.
Net regulators ICANN have now made available a system in which web addresses no longer have to include a single Latin character. Three new suffixes in Arabic script mean web addresses can now be written completely in native characters. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have already begun using the new Arabic suffixes.
Countries including China and Thailand had already previously figured out workarounds for their own native character problem, but these measures were not officially approved and did not work on all computers.
However, ICANN have warned that the new internationalised domain names (IDNs) too may not immediately work on all PCs.
“You may see a mangled string of letters and numbers, and perhaps some percent signs or a couple of “xn--“s mixed into the address bar,” said Mr Davies. “Or it may not work at all.”
According to ICANN, a computer software update may be necessary for all web users to access the new addresses.
“Computers never come with the complete set of fonts that will allow it to show every possible IDN in the world. Often this is fixed by downloading additional language packs for the missing languages, or specifically finding and installing fonts that support the wanted languages.”
Either way, the move represents another small step towards making the web truly world-wide.