Most countries in the world use the QWERTY keyboard. The Central and Eastern European countries: Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Russian Federation use the QWERTZ keyboard only because their languages use "Z" more often than "Y". However, I noticed that the Western European countries: France, Monaco, Belgium, and Luxembourg use the AZERTY keyboard with the letter "M" in the middle row instead of the bottom row. Great Britain and the Netherlands could also potentially use the AZERTY keyboard.

My questions are:

  1. How did the keyboard layouts develop historically? Was there a practical reason to have these keyboard layouts?

  2. Why haven't these countries reformed this redundancy by using the QWERTY keyboard instead of the AZERTY keyboard? Italy also used the QZERTY keyboard with the letter M in the middle row. At least Italy has reformed this redundancy by using the QWERTY keyboard instead of the QZERTY keyboard.

  • 2
    Your question answers itself: it's to do with letter frequency.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 18:32
  • 3
    What's going on with your edit history? What do the UNCTAD, IUCN, FATF, "rosicrucian countries", or ITU have to do with your question exactly? Are you trying to describe which countries you're talking about? Because it would be much clearer for you to just name them. I would posit that most people could not name the member countries for each of those groups, much less even know what those acronyms stand for. Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 19:04
  • 4
    "reformed this redundancy" I've only had one, very limited, experience of an AZERTY keyboard, but as far as I can remember, there's no redundancy involved. The letters may be in difference places, but I'm pretty sure none were duplicated.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 13:19
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    I mean why you updated the question 2 years later to add those two countries there.
    – Ángel
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 17:19
  • 1
    I covered the answer update in the comment there, in that I don't see Vatican City using AZERTY.
    – Ángel
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 17:20

1 Answer 1


How did the keyboard layouts develop historically?

Did you have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AZERTY#History and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QWERTY ?

In the beginning, there was not a keyboard layout. Each keyboard manufacturer had one. In fact, early Sholes typewriters had the keys arranged alphabetically. Trying to solve a jamming problem (and probably also based on letters frequency and users' feedback) is how the initial QWERTY layout was born. The success of the Remington No. 2 of 1878 made this very popular.

AZERTY (just like QWERTZ or QZERTY) is basically a QWERTY variation adapted for a given language (based on the assumption that it would be better to type a given language if certain letters that are very frequent on them appear on the home row).

Why haven't these countries reformed this redundancy by using the QWERTY keyboard instead of the AZERTY keyboard?

Why should they use QWERTY? Do note that it isn't an optimal keyboard layout, either. Why aren't you -I assume- using QWERTY and not DVORAK?

There are lots and lots of users that learnt to type in AZERTY. There would be an high cost of changing to a different layout. Plus, there are lots and lots of physical keyboards in those places showing an AZERTY layout.

There is a cost of switching to something else. In fact, a BEPO layout would be preferable from a theoretical point of view. However, it would be costly for users to retrain themselves into a different layout. And with most computers in the country using AZERTY, that would put them in a disadvantage when using a different computer. This makes them to continue using AZERTY. Just like other countries continue using QWERTY.

Note: there was recently a keyboard layout standardization by French AFNOR (NF Z71‐300), but it kept the position of AZERTY letters, see https://norme-azerty.fr/ (there was an accompanying BEPO layout, too)

  • 1
    @ArunabhBhattacharya what makes you think Vatican City significantly uses an AZERTY layout?
    – Ángel
    Commented Dec 26, 2022 at 12:55
  • Please see my latest edit to the question. My question text now reads as "Why haven't these countries reformed this redundancy by using the QWERTY keyboard instead of the AZERTY keyboard." The quotation should also be updated.
    – Arunabh
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 22:58
  • I have temporarily unaccepted this answer because I am frustrated that three times I have made edits to the question here: superuser.com/questions/1803702/…, but the question is not getting reopened.
    – Arunabh
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 20:02

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