Problem:

I need to build machines in various different languages. The machines have built fine but I’m having trouble logging into them as my test machine has a physical UK keyboard but when I build Windows with a non-UK language I’m struggling to find out where the keys have “moved” to without pressing every key until I find the one I’m looking for.

Resolution:

One option is to look on Wikipedia for a graphic showing the relevant keyboard layout for the language in question:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_layouts

The other option is to consider including the language that matches your physical hardware in your Windows image.

For example, if your physical hardware has a UK keyboard include “English (United Kingdom)” as an input language in your Windows image. Then when you build a machine in a different language you can press ALT+SHIFT (press and hold down the ALT key then press SHIFT), at the Windows login screen to switch between the “foreign” language (keyboard layout) the machine is built in and the physical keyboard layout of the machine (English).

Using the above example let’s say I have a machine with a physical UK keyboard which I need to build in Portuguese. When I do this the “Default input language” in Windows will be set to “PT Portuguese (Portugal)”.

If I then try to login with a username that contains a dash (-), when I press the dash (-) key an apostrophe () appears instead as on a Portuguese keyboard the dash key (-) is actually mapped to where the forward slash (/) key is on a physical UK keyboard.

Now as I’ve added “English (United Kingdom)” to my Windows image, I can simply press ALT+SHIFT on the Windows login screen to switch the language over from Portuguese and now when I press dash, a dash actually appears rather than the apostrophe. If I need to switch back to Portuguese I just press ALT+SHIFT.

Of course this doesn’t just apply to English. If my physical hardware has a German keyboard I could consider including the German language in my Windows image and then when I build a machine in English, pressing ALT+SHIFT would switch from English to German.

Just remember you’ll need to press ALT+SHIFT the relevant number of times to switch between the number of installed Windows languages. So if I have two languages installed pressing ALT+SHIFT will toggle between them.

If I have three languages installed (for example English, Portuguese and German installed in that order), pressing ALT+SHIFT once will switch from English to Portuguese. Pressing it a second time will switch from Portuguese to German, and a third time from German back to English.