Microsoft is making changes to its Knowledge Base architecture to streamline indexing and to make the online resource more uniform for all users, regardless of geographic location. The changes are subtle, but they may affect the way many of you—especially international users—search for specific articles.
The following brief outline of Microsoft’s timetable for the changes may help you prepare for the changes and adjust your searches as necessary.
Overview and timetable
Microsoft is phasing out the prefix letters on Knowledge Base articles to make indexing more uniform in all languages. Under the current system, articles are published in 21 different languages, with different numbering and prefix schemes for each language. To pull up an article in a specific language that’s different from the default language in your browser, you must know the prefix and numbering scheme for that language.
U.S. English articles, for example, have been named with the Q prefix followed by a number. As part of Microsoft's changes, the Q prefix will be dropped and all articles will have the same content numbers across all languages. The Knowledge Base search interface will automatically detect your browser’s language setting and display the correct translation.
The prefixes for English Knowledge Base articles were dropped as of Nov. 7, 2002. The prefixes for all other languages will be phased out between Nov. 18, 2002 and Dec. 31, 2002. Any international articles that use different numbering schemes will also be renumbered for the sake of uniformity.
Users will still be able to access articles with existing URLs until January 2005, at which time the links with old content numbers will cease to function. All new content added to the Knowledge Base as of the dates mentioned will be indexed under the new system.
Knowledge Base articles will be referenced on Microsoft’s Premier site in the following format:
The ln in the example represents the language designation, and the n represents the content number of the article. Keep in mind that this is how articles will be referenced on the site. You don’t need to know the language value to find an article; all you need is the content number.
Articles on the support site will be referenced in the following format:
Again, the n represents the content number of the article. Your browser’s language settings will determine the correct translation.
If you want to request an article in a specific language that’s different from your browser’s default, you can do so by entering the URL in the following format:
The [ln] represents the designated Knowledge Base value for the desired language. So, to access the German language version of article 321722, you would enter the URL as follows:
The following table includes a complete list of the language values in the new Knowledge Base naming convention. You can find additional details about the changes to the articles on the Knowledge Base Web page.
A cleaner system
The biggest impact of these changes will be for international users or users requesting articles in specific languages. All in all, the new system is much more uniform across the 21 languages in which articles are indexed. Unless you’re requesting an article in a specific language, all you’ll really need is the base article number without the alphabet soup of prefixes that are different for each language or location. For most users, the changes will be seamless and the end result is a tidier system of indexing and referencing articles.