In a recent entry of Raymond Chen’s blog “The Old New Thing”, he explains how the time format was changed in Windows 8 to use the Unicode character
∶ (U+2236 RATIO) instead of
: (U+003A COLON):
- old: 7:00
- new: 7∶00
The post includes a number of issues that had to be addressed with this change. For example, U+2236 is not in category CS (“common number separator”), leading to incorrect behavior in right-to-left layouts.
Given this, I wondered whether the change was sensible in the first place. This seems like a presentation issue at the level of glyphs in fonts rather than something which called for a different representation of the data. Commenter Andreas Rejbrand exactly summarizes my doubts:
September 13, 2018 at 11:59 am
This is interesting. ∶ is U+2236: RATIO in block “Mathematical operators”, which I would guess would be used to indicate ratios, or fractions, like 1∶1000.
Indeed, the official Unicode document  says, “preferred to 003A : [the ASCII colon, my remark] for denotation of division or scale in mathematical use”.
Hence, this doesn’t feel like elegant typography to me; it feels more like semantic misuse of Unicode characters, a bit like using the masculine ordinal indicator (º) instead of the degree sign (°, extremely common mistake).
Is this a valid use of the character U+2236 RATIO?
Note: I hope this question is appropriate here. I was directed here from Stack Overflow.