What is XKP?

The Windows NT Extended Kanji Processing Council, its acronym being XKP, is an organization, founded in February 1995, with the intention to promote system constructions for local self-governing bodies using personal computers.

How XKP was brought into existence clearly shows the characteristic of this organization. XKP was initiated by requests to Microsoft Corporation from computer makers and Solution Providers calling for the need of such organization. No sooner than people tried to process census or resident registrations using Windows and Windows NT, which have been processed by means of mainframe or office computers up to now, they would face a shortage of available kanji characters and a lack of standard processing methods for user-defined characters (UDCs). When constructing a client/server application system, it likely becomes a multi-vendor environment and as a result one cannot use a proprietary UDC extension scheme specific to a certain computer maker. To work out a solution to these problems and to standardize the extended kanji character processing, XKP was created as a cross-sectional group comprising Microsoft Corporation, computer makers, kanji processing-oriented companies such as font vendors, package software developers, and Solution Providers.

On April 21, 1995 the Windows NT Extended Kanji Processing Council was formally established as an organization of 74 member companies and as of March 1997 it grew to 118 members. With its theme being a quite extensive topic such as "Treatment of UDCs for Personal- and Place-names on Windows NT," XKP has been watched with keen interest by, in addition to local-governing bodies, the printing and publishing industry, public and governmental offices, finance and brokerage firms, and educational bodies, where personal- and place-names need be processed.

Version 1.0 of the Windows NT Extended Kanji Processing Specification was completed on August 22, 1995 and then on September 4, 1996 Version 2.0 of the Windows NT Extended Kanji Processing Specification was laid down and published. XKP SDK together with the XKP specification, sample programs, and sample source code based on the specification, was distributed in CD-ROM and XKP has been actively promoting such standardized usage.

Although a popular way to process personal- or place-names was to store your UDCs in 1,880 available positions of the UDC Area of Shift-JIS, XKP chose Unicode before others by weighing the future of character coding. Unicode known as ISO/IEC 10646-1:1993 is an international agreement for a set of globally standardized character codes and is also standardized in Japan as JIS X 0221-1995. The word "Windows NT" included in the organization name is attributable to this fact since Windows NT uses Unicode internally. At present Unicode is supported in Windows NT and Microsoft Office 97.

Owing to the adoption of Unicode, the user now can use up to 12,156 kanji characters, 6,355 of which are from Shift-JIS based on the First and Second Levels of JIS X 0208-1990, and the rest, i.e. 5,801, are from the JIS Supplementary Kanji Set defined in JIS X 0212-1990. In addition, the total number of so-called user-defined characters that the user may define as he pleases, has increased threefold from 1,880 of JIS to 6,400. By treating this UDC area and UDC database separately, the XKP specification made UDC processing flexible and also took into consideration UDC information exchange over the Internet in the future. Besides the font information, the XKP specification defined the character information such as "reading," "radical," "number of strokes," "parent characters," as part of the UDC database information, which is needed for character input, so as to make both input and output collectively manageable. The XKP mechanism also enables the user to input or display UDC characters without his noticing they are UDCs.

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