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Re: A way forward

From: John Hudson <tiro@tiro.com>
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 2009 08:38:34 -0700
Message-ID: <4A6883FA.6090802@tiro.com>
CC: www-font@w3.org
To clarify further what I am suggesting:

So long as a web font format is only supported in some major browsers 
but not others -- for the sake of this discussion, in IE but not Firefox 
or in Firefox but not IE -- it isn't a viable technology for web served 
typography, any more than IE has been for the past ten years. Sure, a 
few people will use such a technology, but it won't become a major 
standard and probably won't meet the W3C criteria for interoperability, 
especially if it is also a controversial format.

At the moment, Microsoft are pushing for EOT or an EOT-derivative to 
become the interoperable format, while Mozilla are pushing (but 
seemingly not as hard as some others) for naked font linking to become 
the interoperable format. And both are stoutly resisting the format 
favoured by the other.

This is an impasse, and there are only two ways out of it: fight it out 
until one or other party gives in and accepts the format favoured by the 
other, or settle on a third format that both parties can agree on.

If Microsoft and Mozilla decide to go the fight route, I'm not sure 
whether I'd want to put money on the outcome. More to the point, I doubt 
if they would want to put money on the outcome. I expect that Microsoft 
will win, for the reasons that various people on this list have 
enumerated, and that Mozilla would end up having to swallow an 
EOT-derivative. But it would be an ugly and unpleasant fight that no one 
wants to watch.

It certainly seems to me in Mozilla's interest to shift their support to 
something like .webfont as the interoperable standard: it is easy to 
implement, it may avoid a fight that they are likely to lose, and it 
doesn't give Microsoft any advantage.

It is less obvious that it is in Microsoft's interests, insofar as it is 
less to their advantage than an EOT-derived solution. On the other hand, 
its not as if they would be losing EOT, and the backwards compatibility 
factor remains in their favour in the market place. There will be a 
market for EOT format web font licensing to address that backwards 
compatibility, alongside of a market for .webfont licensing to support 
newer versions of browsers.

John Hudson
Received on Thursday, 23 July 2009 15:39:18 UTC

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