VeriSign expands domain name languages

The chances of finding a domain name in the language of a user’s choice expanded slightly on Tuesday as VeriSign Inc. announced a software plug-in that will aid non-English speaking Web users.

The company’s i-Navigate plug-in software will now translate domain names from English into Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean and Russian. The company said that Brazilian Portuguese, French, Danish, Swedish, German and Spanish would be added by the end of February.

The i-Nav plug-in services are intended to promote global usage and adoption of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) using non-English characters by giving Internet users a broader language choices, the company said.

With VeriSign’s Web-based navigation and i-Nav plug-in services, users are able to type the domain name of the Web site they want to visit in their local language and continue to see the domain name in that language.

In addition, the company’s 13 DNS server locations have been installed with the navigation software.

The i-Nav software is able to perform the language translations with programs such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and with Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail programs. Currently, the software supports .com and .net domain extensions, and the company is looking to add domains such as .kr, .jp and any country code top-level domain names (ccTLDs) or generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) before the end of this year.

“It is a piece of software, a plug-in that the user can download to their desktop. When they type in a domain name in Chinese (for example) and enter .com, the plug-in translates that domain name and then maps it to the Web site,” said Ben Turner, vice-president at VeriSign in Sterling, Va. As Turner explained, the software only translates the domain name and doesn’t do any translation to the Web site itself. There is potential for up to 350 languages to be added, he noted.

According to an April 2002 International Data Corp. (IDC) report, 76 per cent of the worldwide Internet population resides outside of the United States. As Internet usage continues to rise beyond the U.S., that coincides with other nations wanting to read sites in their own languages, said Steve McClure, a program vice-president in the software research group at IDC in Framingham, Mass. However, tools like VeriSign’s, while useful to some degree, still do not address the issue of being able to view an entire site, with links, in the user’s native language beyond just the URL.

“The ability to access your language on a particular Web site is equally important and it has nothing to do with the URL,” McClure said.

The i-Nav service is available free for download through the company’s Web site at