W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-font@w3.org > January to March 1998

RE: Public Domain Fonts for the Web

From: Bill Hill <billhill@microsoft.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 09:30:14 -0800
Message-ID: <C35556591D34D111BB5600805F1961B904867EDB@red-msg-47.dns.microsoft.com>
To: "'mike@jmaca.com'" <mike@jmaca.com>, www-font@w3.org
I've been following this thread but waited until the rhetoric had died down.

Microsoft saw the need for a standard set of fonts for the screen three
years ago. We commissioned Matthew Carter to produce two families of type
from scratch, designed for reading large amounts of text on the screen. We
had them hinted by Tom Rickner at Monotype. Those in the industry will
recognize those names right away. To those not familiar with the type
industry I'll just say that they would figure in anyone's list of the top
people in the world. Verdana and Georgia are superb fonts.

To those, we added a number of others, including faces designed and hinted
by Vincent Connare, one of our in-house typographers here at Microsoft who
is up there with the best of them, and has the unique skill of being able to
do both design and hinting at the highest standard.

We put all the fonts into a Webfonts pack, which is available for free
download from our Website at:


It also includes a sample font from Monotype.

There are also a few utilities and tools, including professional font
development and testing tools, a tool to allow you to embed fonts in Web
pages, etc.

A couple of points.

These fonts are available in both Windows and Macintosh versions on our
site. No, there is no Unix version yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if we
get asked to make one soon, given that MS has now released Internet Explorer
for Solaris.

No, you can't ship these fonts with a commercial product. We spent a huge
amount of time and money making them, because we see they add tremendous
value not just to our products, but to the Internet in general. Of course,
they work no matter what browser you're using. And although you can't ship
them, you can point your customers to them. But they won't ever be

Another reason for not allowing them to be shipped with commercial products
is that we are continually upgrading these fonts, adding larger character
sets (for example the WGL4 character set which has roughly 654 characters,
including Cyrillic Russian, Greek and Turkish). And fixing any bugs we find.
Keeping them in a single repository like that means we don't have to worry
about upgrading all the different versions which would otherwise be out
there, versioning issues, and so on.

Contrary to your mail, we do believe we gain by releasing a common set of

Point of information. OpenType is a joint Microsoft-Adobe initiative which
is absolutely aimed at what you want; a universal font format which means a
single binary font file works on either Macintosh or Windows. Again, Unix is
another issue we haven't yet dealt with, but the goal is one font which
works anywhere.

Last point. We thought very hard about the effect on the font industry of
creating some of the best fonts in the world and giving them away. The
industry (which as you now know is made up mainly of lots of smaller
companies) has to be able to make a living from what it does. It's in
no-one's interest to undermine that. So while we recognized the need for a
base set of fonts, we didn't want to make it too big. We wanted to
jump-start what we hope will be a new source of revenue for the industry;
making fonts for people using the Web, and corporate intranets.

Many of these folks struggle to make a living from what they do. It's
especially hard because even users who would not dream of using an
application without buying a copy don't seem to have the same inhibitions
when it comes to copying fonts.

At least one font vendor has told me he believes that for every copy he
sells, there are at least 600 pirated versions. Small companies cannot
afford the kind of anti-piracy efforts companies like ours deploy - and even
with all the effort we put in, piracy is still a huge revenue loss.

I realise this is not exactly what you want. But it may help.


> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Michael Emmel [SMTP:mike@jmaca.com]
> Sent:	Tuesday, February 24, 1998 4:47 PM
> To:	www-font@w3.org
> Subject:	Re: Public Domain Fonts for the Web
> tiro@tiro.com
> Sent me a private email that once  very valuable and explained  his view
> of the font industry. And no he did not agree with me : )
> This is the last email I will make on the subject.
> Here's my response
> Thank you this is the first reasonable response I have received from
> this group. I  now understand your position.  And see your problems.
>  I will now no longer discuss the matter.
> I will post this response to the group since I suspect everyone
> think I'm and ass. I simply did not understand the "industry".
> If the fonts are  mainly developed  by smaller companies that do not have
> a lot of extra resources and probably only produce fonts as a product.
> And off hand  induvidually the probably  do not have such a large
> collection of
> fonts
> that the release of even one to promote a standard is acceptable.
> I don't agree but I accept this position esp for small companies.
> None of the big computer companies Apple/Microsoft  gain by releasing a
> common set
> of fonts.
> They may make many freely avialbel on there platform but they have no
> driving
> force to agree to even a few common ones. : (
> Opentype by adobe creates a standard file format but file formats are not
> the
> issue.
> The same fonts on all platforms is what I would like
> In short there is no computer entity that would benefit  from free fonts
> and is capable of making the contribution. Offhand only IBM or SUN would
> have any
> reason.
> IBM needs standard java thus standard fonts the same to some extent SUN.
> The only other group are people like me not wanting to play fonts
> substitution
> games
> with no common default.  Most  platforms have and extensive and different
> set of
> fonts.
> Not having a good set of fonts that are the same on all platforms
> does cause a *lot* of problems.
> I'll simply drop to plan B and  pick  through the free "crud"
> to find a few good ones.  There are a few  but I have seen quit bit of
> garbage
> or  many font styles not for normal use. When  I get a decent collection
> together
> I will make it publicly available.  Then make them the default and let the
> user
> override
> with the platform specific  font  of there choice instead of me playing
> guessing
> games.
> It does solve my problems it is not the best solution.
> It is clear that a standard set of fonts will not be avialable any time
> soon.
> I would call  my approach a substandard instead of a standard : )
> Gone dumpster diving : )
> Mike
> mike@jmaca.com
Received on Wednesday, 25 February 1998 12:30:23 UTC

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