My first Windows machine was Japanese Windows 3.1. It required quite a bit of extra software to get Japanese capability, and it was slow. Each version of Windows has provided more international support, and beginning with Windows 2000, you can sometimes get international characters to work with programs that don’t explicitly support interntional character sets.
If you just need accents, umlauts, and tildes, the easiest option for English Windows is the US International keyboard. Type an apostrophe (‘) followed by a vowel to get an acute (rising) accent: á, é, í, ó, ú. Type the grave (downward) accent (upper left on the keyboard) followed by a vowel for that accent: à, è, ì, ò, ù. (more…)