Russify MS Windows: Keyboard

Use Native Language Support (NLS) keyboard if you can.
If you cannot, then use WinKey.

If you only browse the Net and read cyrillic documents, you do not really need a cyrillic keyboard switcher. You do need a keyboard switcher if you want to type in Cyrillic.

Your alternatives are:

  1. Native Language Support for Win95
  2. Native Language Support for WinNT
  3. WinKey for Win95 and Win3.1

The following preferences apply:

Windows 3.11 and 3.1
Use WinKey.
Windows 95
Use NLS. You can use WinKey too.
Win95 NLS is somewhat flaky but workable.
Do not worry, WinKey is somewhat flaky too.
Windows NT
Use NLS. WinKey does not work on NT.

NLS Cyrillic keyboard for Windows 95

(1) Install Microsoft cyrillic fonts, unless you aready did so. This would enable cyrillic keyboard support.

(2) Make keyboard state visible by going to ControlPanel. Keyboard. Language and checking Enable indicator on taskbar.

(3) Now you can change character set that your keyboard generates by pushing LeftAlt+Shift or by left-clicking on En/Ru indicator on taskbar.

(4) This is a good time to check how your cyrillic support works. Open the WordPad application, switch keyboard into Russian state and start typing something. If you see cyrillic letters, then cyrillic support is installed and works properly.

(5) You installed JTsUKENG keyboard layout -- the one that is used on Russian typewriters. Many people, including me, like Phonetic or YaWERTY keyboard layout in which cyrillic 'A' sits on the same key as latin 'A', cyrillic '.' sits on the same key as latin '.', and so on.

(6) To install this layout, download file to your Windows\System directory, say, C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM.

(6a) Unzip downloaded file by executing these commands from MS DOS prompt:

cd c:\windows\system pkunzip

(7) Save your original Windows cyrillic keyboard file, and replace it with downloaded file by executing these commands from MS DOS prompt:

copy kbdru.kbd kbdru-st.kbd copy kbdru-ph.kbd kbdru.kbd

(8) Close all applications and reboot your machine. After rebooting your standard Russian keyboard will become a phonetic keyboard, just like the one shown above.
The exact layout of keys on Yawerty keyboard is shown here.
Test the new keyboard by opening a new file in WordPad and typing to it in Russian keyboard mode.

This keyboard layout was generated using Janko''s Keyboard Generator for Windows 95.

NLS Cyrillic keyboard for Windows NT 4.0

(1) NT 4.0 distribution includes Russian CP1251 keyboard layout. To enable CP1251 keyboard:
Go to ControlPanel. Keyboard. InputLocales,
Hit the Add button, and
Select Russian Input Locale.
Click OK and to add Locale and then
another OK to complete installation.

(2) Now you can switch keyboard by pushing LeftAlt+Shift or by clicking EN/RU mini-icon on a Task Bar and selecting the appropriate language.

(3) Just like with Windows 95, many people would like to use Phonetic or YaWERTY keyboard on Windows NT. If you are one of them:
Download file into your downloads directory, say, C:\LOADS,
Unzip this file.
Double-click file KBDRUNPH.REG. This would register the new layout in the Registry.
Copy file KBDRUNPH.DLL to your NT system directory \WINNT\SYSTEM32.
Log Off and the Log On. Your new phonetic layout should be working now.

Comparison to our previous recommendation: originally we have recommended to use Mike Chikalov *.EXE program that could change something in the registry and thus install phonetic layout.
The problem with this program was that choice that you made by running it was not reversable, that is it was impossible to get back to JTsUKENG layout without completely reinstalling the system.
Our new approach is completely reversable. To get back to JTsUKENG keyboard, change all occurences of KBDRUNPH.DLL to KBDRU.DLL in the Registry, and then Log Off and Log On.

WinKey package for Win95 and Win3.1

(1) Create an installation directory somewhere on your disk. For instance, you create directory C:\WKINST.

(2) Download file to this directory.

(3) Unzip file into directory C:\WKINST:

cd C:\WKINST pkunzip WINKEY

(4) Start INSTALL.EXE from WKINST directory. Answer "OK" to "Copy Program files to your Windows hard disk?" question.

(5) Then, after some time question "Would you like to add multilingual Windows system fonts?" appears. Answer NO to this question. Fonts in WinKey are not very good, we only use it as a keyboard switcher.

(6) Now installation is complete and you can use WinKey. All program files are placed into directory WINKEY on the same drive where you have the installation directory.
Installation directory WKINST now is not needed and you can remove it.

(7) Start program WINKEY\winkey.exe. First time it starts, it asks "Would you like to turn this helpful but annoying feature off now?". Answer yes, cause this feature is real annoying.
After you are done configuring WinKey, add \WINKEY\winkey.exe to your Windows StartUp directory so that it is automatically started for you whenever you start Windows.
You can do it by creating a shortcut in \Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp that points to \WINKEY\winkey.exe.

(8) Now you have WinKey running in background. On its icon it displays current state of your keyboard -- language that you are typing in. To change the language push ScrollLock button.

(9) To access WinKey features and menus push Right Mouse Button on WinKey icon and while holding the button, select setting that you want to change.
Most likely, you will want to change "Alternative Keyboard" to "Russian KOI-8". Then you get Russian JTSuKENG keyboard that generates KOI-8. By default, you get TSuKENG keyboard that generates CP 1251.

(10) I do not like writing Cyrillic letters on Latin keyboards and I have too many keyboards to write on, so I created YaWERTbI KOI-8 keyboard for WinKey in which latin letter A produces cyrillic A in cyrillic mode, latin letter W produces cyrillic B, latin Q produces cyrillic Ya, and so on.
Download file, unzip it, put it into directory \winkey\keyboard, start WinKey.

In WinKey.RightMouseButton.MenuConfigure click ALTERNATE 4 button,
set Menu Name to YaWERTY KOI8-R, Icon to Russia, Keyboard File to yawekoi8.wkb.
Save this configuration and then Exit.

Then select WinKey.RightMouseButton.AlternateKeyboard.YaWERTY KOI8-R, and now you have YaWERTY keyboard that produces KOI8-R!
To view YaWERTY keyboard layout: select WinKey.RightMouseButton.KeyboardConfigure.Load and then load file yawekoi8.wkb.

WinKey and Hebrew

Submitted by David E. Shleifman.

Here is my small contribution (click here to download). Two keyboard layouts HEB862.WKB (DOS standard) and ISO8859.WKB (windows standard) are designed for using along with hebrew font ELRONET (from

Unfortunately it is not possible to type hebrew texts inasmuch as WinKey "Right to Left" option does not work. I use them for small edit purposes only.

RUS866T.WKB is a RUS866.WKB adjusted for typists.

Copyright © 1996-2003 by Vadim Maslov.   Updated July 28, 2001.