This is a good news for those who seldomly type Arabic text but sometimes find it difficult, especially without Arabic keyboard or Arabic-character sticker pasted on your normal keyboard. Well, I do have this sticker layout on my keyboard but after sometimes I can't even tell which key is for "س" and "ي" (as the sticker worn out already!) But now I have no problem with this, as I'm using this application named "Maren 1.0" launched by Microsoft in July 2009. I've been using this for a few month and it has made my Arabic typing much easier and faster than before!
Microsoft Maren was developed to be a Windows extension that allows you to type Arabic in Roman characters (Arabic Transliteration) and have it converted on the fly to Arabic script. Maren integrates seamlessly with Windows and works in most Windows applications and websites.
For those who are not familiar with the term, transliteration is not similar to translation. Transliteration is the process of converting the sound of the words from one alphabet to another, not based on their meaning like translation. For instance, to type a character "س", you can easily use "s" character in your usual keyboard. Therefore, I can type my name "ثقيف" as easy as I type "thaqif".
Moreover, you can do this transliteration almost anywhere, while typing in Microsoft Word, Messengers, browsers and etc as this application works in most Windows-based apps.
Actually, I'm not a big fan of Microsoft as I don't like its domination in the world of software. We still need to give our biggest respect to Yamli, the pioneers in this transliteration business, co-founded by Habib Haddad in November 2007. So far, Yamli only focuses on online Arabic transliteration searching but they have the largest database of Arabic words. Guess once they had made their enhancement in offline capability we could switch toYamli and say goodbye to Microsoft~ :P.
Download Microsoft Maren here: GetMaren.com