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I am learning a bit of Chinese and there are two options for entering Chinese text using IME: the Chinese IME that ships with Windows and Google IME (a recent entrant).

Which do you recommend and why?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Never ever use the default Windows IMEs for inputting Simplified Chinese text, they totally suck.

Sogou Pinyin is the father of all modern Chinese IMEs. It has the largest market share in China. It has a hell of a feature set, but current versions included lots of useless bells and whistles (Who the heck needs a custom theme for an IME?), of course you can disable them, but you have to dig into the settings menus.

Google Pinyin is an excellent IME. It copied many ideas from Sogou, even stealed the word and phrase database for once, but it has been improved for quite a bit. Due to the awkwardness of Google's position in China, it doesn't have much market share here, except for some die-hard google fans.

QQ Pinyin is another one on the rise. It is the last one joined into the competition, and I'd say it copied many ideas from Sogou as well, but its market share is drastically increasing due to the popularity QQ (the IM) in China.

The features of the 3 IMEs are quite similar. You wouldn't have problems switching from one to another, by far I still like Sogou most.

If you want a solution from Microsoft, try MSPY 2010. It originally came out with the release of Office 2010, and now you can get it as a separate download. It's not as cool as the other three. The only advantage you get is the hit rate of long sentence input. As saf123 mentioned, it's probably the only IME which doesn't gather user information.

And finally, the google trend chart:

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The blue one is Sogou, of course.

All of the above IMEs support the input of Traditional Chinese texts, but since they all use GBK charset, if you are accustomed to the Big5 charset, i.e., you are from Hong Kong or Taiwan, some of the characters might come out a bit strange to you.

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If your Chinese is not great Sogou has no interface, settings, help, etc in English (unlike the IMEs that ship with Windows). There are all kinds of popups and things for which I could not guess the function or purpose. The worst part is that if you decide to uninstall it the process is very slow, involves multiple dialog boxes in Chinese only that you won't be able to read, and when finished you will find it still not uninstalled. I even got a Chinese speaker to help me uninstall it and he couldn't get rid of it completely either. I now regard it as a kind of malware. –  hippietrail Feb 11 at 11:10
    
I've gone ahead and asked a new question about how to uninstall Sogou. –  hippietrail Feb 11 at 11:24

Are the two IMEs different implementations of the same maps? If so it doesn't make a difference either way.

If they are different maps altogether, use the one that is more commonly and universally supported. You might end up on a public machine without admin access that supports only the more common map one day.

For typing Hindi, as an example, there is an INSCRIPT keymap and other maps. However INSCRIPT is the one supported uniformly across windows, linux and mac and that's what I use. It's also available as a bookmarklet by Google so I can use that too - the key point being - use the right map, rather than the right vendor. The vendor isn't as important as the standardized map.

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Google's input method behaves better, and more intelligent, but the bigger issue is the privacy. It sends information to Google!

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I am from China, and I think Google's IME is better, and there also some other Chinese IMEs are also good.

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