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[Interactive Age] Web font war: What it means

From: Rohit Khare <khare@pest.w3.org>
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 96 12:30:58 -0500
Message-Id: <9602281731.AA11630@pest.w3.org>
To: www-font@w3.org, FoRK@xent.w3.org
.Web font war: What it means

On the heels of a similar Web font announcement yesterday by Adobe, Apple and  
Netscape, ..Microsoft Corp.. said it will expand support for TrueType fonts  
in its Internet Explorer browser.

Microsoft rolled out forty companies--including Hewlett-Packard, Macromedia  
and Oracle, as well as a good supply of smaller font houses--to support its  

Microsoft and .Netscape. already support a basic sub-set of TrueType fonts in  
their browsers, but the goal of both groups is to basically allow Web authors  
to use any font they want when authoring Web pages.

The key difference between the two announcements is that while Microsoft and  
friends are supporting TrueType fonts only, the Adobe/Apple/Netscape group is  
supporting both TrueType and Type 1, the latter being a class of Adobe-created  
fonts that are widely used today by print publishers.

.Adobe. believes Web authors--who often do work or have a background in print  
medium--are demanding support for Type 1 fonts. The Adobe-led group is  
working on Type 1 font technology to support new capabilities such as support  
anti-aliasing, which creates sharper on-screen display; embedded, compressed  
fonts, which will let users download fonts they need on-the-fly; and  
progressively rendered fonts that will flow in like compressed GIF images,  
said Pierre Bedard, Adobe's OEM business manager.

"Frankly, I believe publishers are more interested in Type 1 fonts," said  
Bedard. "For hard-core publishers, people who do this professionally, Type 1  
fonts are what they use."

Microsoft counters that TrueType fonts are much more widely used than Type 1,  
especially for on-screen display. TrueType ships on all Windows platforms as  
well as on the Apple Macintosh, said Charles Fitzgerald, Microsoft's program  
manager, Internet Platform Tools division.

"I would characterize [Adobe's press release] as a preemptive, reactive  
release," Fitzgerald said. "TrueType fonts are in use all over the place, and  
it is the best technology for on-screen display."

In addition, Fitzgerald said, TrueType already supports most of the features,  
such as anti-aliasing, that are just now being built-in to Type 1. "Adobe  
made the trade off to optimize Type 1 for print. We are a generation ahead in  
on-screen display. Type 1 is playing catch-up."

For Web authors, the big question is: will this schism lead to more  
fracturing of the Web? The answer, it appears, is yes and no. It is likely  
that both Netscape and Microsoft will implement downloadable fonts using the  
W3 Consortium's proposed style sheets feature. But if one browser supports  
Type 1 and the other doesn't, Web authors could be faced with the same old  
difficult decision regarding which browser extensions to support.

You can read more about Microsoft's TrueType plans at  

--Richard Karpinski
Received on Wednesday, 28 February 1996 12:29:54 UTC

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