Windows Dutch keyboard trouble

windows-vista-logoMy father-in-law just stopped by because his new computer was giving him trouble. He was about to return his brand new Vista laptop because he found himself unable to configure his email accounts. The problem? He couldn’t type an ‘@’. It turned out he was running into the same issue that kept my own dad from succesfully typing in his WPA key when he bought a new notebook. The same issue that my wife’s laptop unboxing a frustrating one too. Windows was expecting a Dutch keyboard.

The origin of the problem probably lies in the fact that nobody in The Netherlands uses a Dutch keyboard. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. Every computer I’ve used has had a ‘US international’ keyboard, . Still, if you tell Windows that you’re in our little country, it will automatically set up a language profile ‘NL’ that uses this obscure keyboard layout.

Another rather strange default behaviour is that Windows will switch between the ‘EN’ and ‘NL’ based on which application is active. I can see how it might be convenient to switch between languages, but whether you’re using a word processor or a browser won’t change your keyboard layout. Unless you actually use a second keyboard with a different layout, you won’t need this behaviour. Ever. All it does is leave the user confused as to why he can type punctuation in one program but not in others.

The solution is easy enough. You can right-click the little language icon on the left side of your task bar and simply delete the Dutch keyboard setting altogether. But it really shouldn’t be this confusing. I’ve often blogged about how I don’t mind Windows, but this bit is simply braindead. And it’s not the functionality itself, it’s how it’s configured by default. That should be easy enough to fix, right?


  1. I also have never seen a Dutch keyboard. Now I understand why my pc at work switches all the time, it drives me up the wall!

    Comment by koffiekitten — March 26, 2009 @ 6:36 pm

  2. Long, long ago I used a Dutch keyboard at work. It was a very robust Wang keyboard and I could blindly type on it. It had some strange combinations Alt-7 for backslash if I can remember right. If I experienced the problem of your father, I closed my eyes and without looking at the keyboard could mind-switch from VS-international layout to Dutch. I wanted this super heavy duty keyboard with nice keypress for at home but have never found it. Wang stopped making PCs a long time ago.

    Comment by Rolograaf — March 30, 2009 @ 8:38 am

  3. the best solution to this issue
    is to edit the keyboard layout

    I’m a fan of linux (I use fedora most of the time) but this is a good program from M$, it’s called
    Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator a.k.a. MKLC (?self explanatory :D)

    you need to validate windows in order to download through
    I think it can be step out this, but I have an original windows, so no problem

    regards from my house 🙂

    Comment by just surfing — April 12, 2009 @ 12:24 am

  4. A Dutch keyboard is quite nice combination of keys but it is being phased out.Required a diferent driver
    can be set via control panel/keyboard/properties/update drivers or language bar setings.

    Comment by Cangaseira — August 13, 2009 @ 12:58 pm