"Microsoft's TrueType core fonts for the Web are no longer available for download"
August 13, 2002 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Is it because they are shipping all of these fonts with every OS by default now? What about IE on Mac OSX - do you have Verdana, Georgia, Arial Black, etc?
posted by stevengarrity at 9:20 AM on August 13, 2002

With every OS? Do you mean with every copy of Internet Explorer?

I can't help but wonder if they planned this all along--release a bunch of fonts for free, tell everyone to design websites with them because they look so nice on screen and they're free and now, suddenly, surprise, it seems you have to have Internet Explorer to get them...and people that don't use IE are gonna be looking at some weird looking sites.

posted by Fabulon7 at 9:27 AM on August 13, 2002

Seems to me these fonts have been included with Windows for some time now (I recall them being standard with the first release of Windows 98). It's not a browser thing at all.
posted by briank at 9:29 AM on August 13, 2002

and people that don't use IE are gonna be looking at some weird looking sites.

Not if you use CSS.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:30 AM on August 13, 2002

they ship with windows and mac os, both of which have ie as the default browser

its the open source crowd who are being cut off by this move, and i think it sucks about as much as the fonts are good (they're great)
posted by sawks at 9:31 AM on August 13, 2002

Funny, I thought fonts weren't copywritable, couldn't anyone distribute them? Then I looked around google and read that this didn't apply to scalable fonts, which are technically software. Bit-maps are okay to distribute though.
posted by bobo123 at 9:40 AM on August 13, 2002

heh. owow. comic sans. heh.
posted by quonsar at 9:40 AM on August 13, 2002

Microsoft is not worried about open-source desktops. More likely, this is Microsoft's first strike at Apple. Will Mac OS X 10.2 come with these fonts, or not? Not if Apple's default browser isn't IE, I bet... Apple's been demoing the XServe management tool using Mozilla — this is Microsoft saying "Hey! Cut that out!"

Of course, we designers shouldn't be relying on any particular fonts, but let's face it, Verdana is the best-looking, most legible face for Web body text. And if many Web pages no longer look as good under Mac OS X as under Windows, users won't care whose fault it is.
posted by nicwolff at 9:44 AM on August 13, 2002

I'm betting Microsoft just got cheezed off by utilities that would automatically download the fonts from the Microsoft website and install them on a Linux machine. These utilities are handy, but I agree that they are rather rude. In my opinion, Microsoft is just being rude back.

(Secretly, I loathe the Georgia and Verdana fonts...)
posted by zsazsa at 9:49 AM on August 13, 2002

tahoma rocks!
posted by quonsar at 9:58 AM on August 13, 2002

I love Verdana. As someone who tries to read everything on-screen, I try to not "print" materials. A laptop with Windows XP, ClearType and Verdana is about the ultimate in readability. However, I'm sure these fonts will continue to ship with IE, and Office on whichever platforms IE supports...

Hmmm, the "unix utility" automatically downloading and installing them could be a big reason for their removal, it was my understanding that TrueType was completely locked up, and actually using TrueType on a non-licensed system was problematic ...

Nope, I was wrong, it's Apple that owns the various TrueType patents, and TrueType is ok as long as you don't use embedded hinting, but... oh well... typical Microsoft, there fonts for god's sake, freely available for years, now gone...
posted by jkaczor at 10:00 AM on August 13, 2002

Georgia is one of the worst fonts ever. I don't much like Verdana either, but at least with these things being free and readily accessible and available to everyone, you could half predict what stuff would look like without having to go the evil hardcoded font route...mind you I guess linux users with dual boot can get these fonts off their Win partition. Unless the EULA says that the fonts can only be used in conjunction with a MS OS.

zsazsa: What's wrong with a utility that auto-downloads and installs something that MS is giving away? That's how they want you to upgrade your OS and software--auto-installing 4GB service packs and critical updates from microsoft.com

posted by Fabulon7 at 10:01 AM on August 13, 2002

An interesting sidebar to this is that the new Quartz rendering technology in OS X makes Verdana look like Arial and Georgia look like Times in IE 5.2. This kind of makes designing with these Microsoft-crafted fonts seem kind of dumb when viewing them through their lens.
posted by boardman at 10:03 AM on August 13, 2002

The real question is how the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling will feel about this development.
posted by VulcanMike at 10:12 AM on August 13, 2002

Fabulon7: Georgia is one of the worst fonts ever.

Good Christ, man. Have you been paying attention to the fonts that exist in the world? Fonts like this, this, and this are being distributed on the Net, and you're worried about a fairly readable serif font? Eesh.

(Images via Fontastic)
posted by Danelope at 10:32 AM on August 13, 2002


# dpkg --purge msttcorefonts
posted by devbrain at 10:44 AM on August 13, 2002

Danelope: okay, okay, I give.
posted by Fabulon7 at 11:14 AM on August 13, 2002

If it means fewer people using the devastatingly horrid MS Comic Sans, I say amen. My resentment for this typeface is of an almost neurotic character; in fact, being on the high school board, I insisted on switching my school's official choice of font from Comic Sans to the many times more appealing Georgia. I hate you, Comic Sans.
posted by Hjorth at 11:29 AM on August 13, 2002

You guys take your fonts way too seriously. You're scaring the children. Take a freakin' walk once-in-a-while. *sheesh*
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:33 AM on August 13, 2002

Perhaps most horrifying are the instances in which MS Comic Sans finds its way into what is supposed to be professional communication (corporate newsletters, PowerPoint presentations and such). How did a font that, at best, belongs in a luncheonette menu or on a wall of first-grade projects gain such acceptance?

I mean, really. At least go for Hattenschweiler.
posted by shmeggy at 12:03 PM on August 13, 2002

I beg to differ about Verdana. I like Verdana, but on a Mac, it looks like ass in CSS with a pixel size of 12 and above. Here, have a look... (And this site section is a pretty groovy resource, as well, type hounds!)
posted by metrocake at 12:11 PM on August 13, 2002

Hjorth: I agree. I would shed no tears were someone to write an e-mail worm whose sole purpose were to delete Comic Sans MS and all variants from every infected PC.
posted by Danelope at 12:22 PM on August 13, 2002

Bobo123, all font files are covered by copyright, even bitmaps. But, under US law, the look or style is not. A competing font house can hire a designer to recreate a font from scratch, using print samples of the original font as a visual reference. I suppose in the days of metal type they could also look at cast originals, so as long as they weren't pirating the font by making molds from those pieces. To protect their designs, some companies have taken out patents.

I just read Counterpunch: Making Type in the Sixteenth Century, Designing Typefaces Now, which I recommend to anyone interested in designing their own. There are many books on using type (many quite formula and boring), but very few really talk about the design process.

Most abusers of Comic Sans are using Windows with it pre-installed, so its disappearance as a download won't help much. It's a shame that Trebuchet is down, though. It's my favorite MS product. I like it better than Verdana, especially when printed.
posted by D.C. at 12:48 PM on August 13, 2002

Yes, I hate Comic Sans and Arial and Impact as much as the rest of you, but I found that page to be an invaluable resource to guiding users to get the latest versions of the now standard Web fonts like Verdana and Georgia (some of the best fonts ever designed for both screen and print use) for multiple OSes. It's actions like these that fuel my spite for Microsoft and their unfriendly business tactics.
posted by Down10 at 12:50 PM on August 13, 2002

MS was already making things difficult for the OS crowd by only offering their fonts as either a "self-extracting executable" or stuffit archive. I could probably get by without Georgia, Verdana, et. al., but I would really miss Andale Mono.

It's a shame that it's so difficult to create fonts that look good *at small sizes.* I would definitely like to see an open source project reproduce these fonts and make them really free. As far as I know, it's not illegal to reproduce a font as long as the "data points" and other information in the font file aren't duplicated. The only thing preventing anyone from reproducing these fonts is the effort involved.

Thank goodness I already have these installed. Time to burn my fonts directory!
posted by Eamon at 1:16 PM on August 13, 2002

now, i know no one here just badmouthed my boy, Georgia.
posted by lotsofno at 1:23 PM on August 13, 2002

At my last job, the support manuals for the software we sold were written in Comic Sans. This is in 2000 mind you. And our prices started at $10,000.

The mind boggles.
posted by Tacodog at 1:41 PM on August 13, 2002

I just emailed them to politely express my disappointment, and received an almost immediate response from a real person who said he was collecting feedback to send to his bosses. Details here.

Send messages folks, they might change their minds. (And yes, I use that msttcorefonts package on Debian too).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:09 PM on August 13, 2002

Also, I must be a man of great influence, because they appear to have turned it back on...
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:24 PM on August 13, 2002

They took it away again. Hmmm, something very screwy going on there.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:32 PM on August 13, 2002

down10: wtf is wrong with impact? it may be overused by imbeciles, but it's not even in the same class of horrible as comic sans.
posted by fnord_prefect at 3:01 PM on August 13, 2002

Even Comic Sans has its place ... which should only be in headline and display uses. When continuous type is set in Comic Sans, somebody is not using their mind.

It's very simple. Do not use a display or decorative font for body text. They are not built for that. Indeed, the design impact of a display font is enhanced by its restrained use. It is certainly not the fault of the typeface that it is being mis-used.
posted by dhartung at 3:44 PM on August 13, 2002

It's a shame that Trebuchet is down, though. It's my favorite MS product. I like it better than Verdana, especially when printed. Love Trebuchet - not just because my site uses it, but because my friends and I actually built one in our yard out of scrap lumber - LOL - can shoot an old head of lettuce about 30 feet over our fence. Anyway - it's an interesting that these fonts are pretty much standards on the web - will this change things or will MS relent?
posted by thunder at 4:50 PM on August 13, 2002

I noticed this earlier today when I realised my machine at work didn't have Andale Mono installed.

I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, especially when I saw this flashing at the bottom of the screen:

posted by Monk at 5:12 PM on August 13, 2002

I agree with D.C. though - Trebuchet is definitely superior to most fonts, especially since it can be used for both headings and body text without too many problems.

Excuse my lack of expertise, but is 'Gill Sans' among Microsoft's core font pack? 'Cause I'd hate to see that go...
posted by teem at 5:30 PM on August 13, 2002

teem: Nope. Gill Sans was never part of the core font pack, nor does it ship with Windows. Unlike OS X.
posted by Monk at 5:37 PM on August 13, 2002

I never said there was anything wrong with Impact, I'm just not particularly fond of it in use on Web sites.

There's still no excuse for Comic Sans, though. It looks like ass in any form.
posted by Down10 at 5:55 PM on August 13, 2002

You can still download the fonts here.
posted by iconomy at 7:45 PM on August 13, 2002

Fonts are still available as of now. My favourite font is Verdana also. It is one of the few fonts that can be used at almost any size without looking weird.
posted by dg at 10:05 PM on August 13, 2002

Erm... dg, would you mind telling us where they are "still available as of now", since the site still quite clearly states "Microsoft's TrueType core fonts for the Web are no longer available for download from www.microsoft.com", the files are missing from the download directory, and their license forbids unauthorised distribution?
posted by Lionfire at 10:48 PM on August 13, 2002

I downloaded one of them earlier this afternoon from here (link obtained from iconomy's site)

Otherwise, you could just follow the link three comments up ;-)
posted by dg at 12:34 AM on August 14, 2002

Yes, except those are older version of the fonts, and are also not able to be distributed "in any form that adds value to commercial products". This means they won't be able to be distibuted with any other operating system, including Linux. This wasn't a problem until Microsoft removed the ability for these people to download the fonts.

The instant Microsoft contact The Internet Archive and have those files removed or they put up a robots.txt, you'll find you have a bunch of fonts that no future non-Microsoft users will have.
posted by Lionfire at 1:01 AM on August 14, 2002

dg, it's probably not wise to have a comment follow-up to a previous comment's title tag.
posted by dhartung at 1:11 AM on August 14, 2002

Blah blah, so the fonts are gone. I doubt they'll stop shipping with OS X any time soon (these MS/Apple relations rumors are totally overblown), and the open source kiddies always make do with something.

There's a far more interesting topic that we're all overlooking: What happened to embedding fonts within web pages? Back in 99-ish, Netscape and MS introduced two incompatible methods of embedding fonts. The MS method still works, does Mozilla support the old Netscape 4 method or the MS method at all? Does the W3C have anything up their sleeve? Are we doomed to a future of Arial, Times, Verdana and a couple others?

P.S. I think Comic Sans MS looks pretty decent at ultra small sizes; I like to use it as the typeface for inputs.
posted by Cowboy_X at 2:56 AM on August 14, 2002

I think you would be hard-put to describe Debian linux as a "commercial" product - it's produced by volunteers for a not-for-profit, and given away.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:46 AM on August 14, 2002

Someone should create Metafilter Verdana.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:57 AM on August 14, 2002

There is a strip mall here, with one of those signs that names the strip mall and lists all 10-odd stores within. It's gigantic, it's lit up, and it's in Comic Sans.

And it makes me want to steer my car into a telephone pole and just end it all when I drive by it.
posted by glenwood at 7:17 AM on August 14, 2002

... won't be able to be distibuted with any other operating system, including Linux.

Far be it from me to defend Microsoft, but don't they own the fonts? In that case, don't they have every right to choose where they are used, including the right to stop competing products using them for commercial gain?

... bunch of fonts that no future non-Microsoft users will have.

Anyone can have and use them, they just can't use them for commercial gain any more.
posted by dg at 4:30 PM on August 14, 2002

The fonts are still available (for now) at ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/developr/drg/TrueType/ (via Zeldman).
posted by timeistight at 1:27 PM on August 15, 2002

Nope, the fonts can't be distributed with Debian, because their license is incompatible with DSFG. However, so long as they remain legally available for download, Debian users can use the msttcorefonts package to get and install them.

And yes, Microsoft do own the fonts and it is their right to remove them from download. It's also my right to stop using them. Microsoft always pushed them as being the "core fonts for the web", but if they aren't easily available, they're not going to be a part of my contributions to the Interwebnet. I'm sure I won't be the only person rethinking the "core" of the web.
posted by Lionfire at 8:58 PM on August 15, 2002

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