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Microsoft Cuts the Line to Web Core Fonts

Microsoft has discontinued its free distribution of TrueType core fonts for the Web. Over the last five years, I found it was a great resource for guiding users to pick up commonly used fonts (Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New, Andale Mono, Verdana, Georgia, Trebuchet MS, Impact, Comic Sans and Webdings) that were available to multiple operating systems.

Okay, I don’t love Comic Sans or Arial, but to offer these standard Web fonts for free for so long and then to take them down seems like a cruel tactic to me. It’s a shame.

UPDATE – S. Coles, Aug. 14, 2002

A Microsoft spokesperson kindly answered our questions...

Why did you take the fonts down?

“Most users who wanted the fonts have downloaded them already. They ship with recent operating systems – Windows XP and Mac OS X (via IE). In addition, the downloads were being abused – repackaged, modified and shipped with commercial products in violation of the end-user license agreement.”

Where can I get these fonts now?

“The fonts ship with Windows XP and recent versions of Mac OS. Earlier versions of Windows (Windows 98 thru Windows 2000) included most of them (but not Trebuchet MS, Andale Mono or Georgia).”

UPDATE – S. Coles, Aug. 15, 2002

Simon Daniels of MS Typography clarifies...

“Fonts that ship with different versions of Windows are listed here. (Note that Windows XP does not ship Andale Mono, because only one weight was available when the Windows team took font drops. We expect future versions of Windows to ship all four weights of Andale Mono.)”
Posted by | August 13, 2002 | LINK


Comments

Why in hell would they do that?!

Does it mean their Typography department is being... deprecated (to use on of *their* favorite terms)? Man, that would suck to high heaven.

hhp

Hrant | Aug 13, 2002 01:17 PM

I betcha they are all back in opentype before too long.

jlt | Aug 13, 2002 01:39 PM

MS Customer service don't you just LOVE it

Still makes me happy that I installed Linux and now rarely run Windows

Jake | Aug 13, 2002 03:29 PM

Wow. Apparently Microsoft got peeved that Apple's co-opting/expanding on their tactics(ref: Jaguar upgrade, new G4s, etc) and decided to one-up them.

Su | Aug 13, 2002 03:39 PM

We've received a response from MS. Check out the update to the original story.

It looks like it was rampant EULA violations that led to the end of the Core Fonts page. The fonts are still available via OS installs, but it’s sad there isn’t a consistent online source anymore – especially when you want to point the user of an old OS to the lovely Georgia.

Stephen Coles | Aug 13, 2002 04:39 PM

Incidentally, if someone still has the original EXE installers, couldn't they post them on their own site without violating the EULA? If I recall, that was the case...

This will probably backfire on Microsoft before long, heh.

codeman38 | Aug 13, 2002 07:27 PM

codeman38: You're right, the licence agreement did allow you to distribute the original EXE installers.

Michael S. | Aug 13, 2002 11:41 PM

They did indeed allow redistribution, back in the days when typographer.com had a fonts download section I was proud to offer the core fonts there under the scheme.

Its a massively disappointing move. I am usually pretty consistent in my somewhat negative opinion of MS, but my consistent support of their typography department has been a notable exception. I'd hate to think that the typography department is going the same way as the rest of the company.

I do hope that they will look again at this decision soon. The EULA argument is flimsy to say the least.

David Earls | Aug 14, 2002 02:20 AM

I don't know, but I suspect that a significant reason for the decision is that distributing fonts from the website results in multiple versions of the same font being 'live' at any one time. This probably results in quite a lot of support call headaches. By limiting distribution to the OS, Microsoft can treat the fonts as protected system components, and can ensure that the latest version is always installed and cannot be overwritten by an older version.

John Hudson | Aug 14, 2002 10:03 AM

As someone who attemps to make a living by designing and sellings fonts. I can see the upside to this development. Perhaps this is a step in the direction of adding value to fonts as intelectual property that is not just "free...because it is ONLY a font". By giving away high quality fonts for free, it sends the message that fonts should/could all be free.

I don't think I have to convince the majority of readers on this site that the public perception of the value-lessness of fonts is something that should be changed.

Just a thought.

Richard Kegler | Aug 14, 2002 10:11 AM

Good point. I guess It's a toss-up between making money as a type designer versus the satisfaction of seeing quality on-screen rendering on the web.

hhp

Hrant | Aug 14, 2002 10:32 AM

Not really.

The satisfaction of seeing quality on-screen rendering on the web has nothing (directly from my experience) to do with making money as a type designer.

I have never designed a font intended for screen use. I design fonts for print. I do appreciate quality fonts on screen (and I like free stuff as much as anyone). There should be access to quality core fonts via the browser bundle or OS bundle. It is a shame that this creates a void for quality fonts, but within the limitation of 72 dpi (a horrible limitation), should not the option to use better fonts carry at least some premium? If you want a leather case for your palm pilot, you have to fork over some cash.

Since the core fonts are still bundled with OSs, the fonts become a value add to the OS. ( I sincerely hope I'm not defending MicroSoft Corporate decisions on any level...I just wanted to point out a possible upside to less free [high quality] fonts in the world)

R Kegler | Aug 14, 2002 10:55 AM

Did I use "toss-up" incorrectly?

> I have never designed a font intended for screen use.

But you *use* on-screen fonts.

> I just wanted to point out a possible upside

It's more than possible - it's definite.

hhp

Hrant | Aug 14, 2002 10:58 AM

ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/developr/drg/TrueType/

* Reproduction and Distribution. You may reproduce and distribute an unlimited number of copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT; provided that each copy shall be a true and complete copy, including all copyright and trademark notices, and shall be accompanied by a copy of this EULA. Copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT may not be distributed for profit either on a standalone basis or included as part of your own product.

have at!

Steve | Aug 14, 2002 12:29 PM

ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/developr/drg/TrueType/

* Reproduction and Distribution. You may reproduce and distribute an unlimited number of copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT; provided that each copy shall be a true and complete copy, including all copyright and trademark notices, and shall be accompanied by a copy of this EULA. Copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT may not be distributed for profit either on a standalone basis or included as part of your own product.

have at!

Steve | Aug 14, 2002 12:35 PM

A lot of Linux distributions used the font pack. In Debian, typing ` apt-get install msttcorefonts' would do the trick. All the Linux versions used a loophole in the EULA that allowed the package to be redisributed provided ``each copy shall be a true and complete copy, including all copyright and trademark notices, and shall be accompanied by a copy of this EULA''.

This is I guess what the MS chap meant by `abuse'.

Prasenjeet Dutta | Aug 14, 2002 03:40 PM

Why is that a loophole in the EULA (you'd think MS has enough lawyers to get the wording right), and why is it "abuse"?

hhp

Hrant | Aug 14, 2002 04:11 PM

Also, some nice Typographica reader put them up here, along with a link back to us.

jlt | Aug 14, 2002 04:16 PM

Steve: I think the fonts in the ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/developr/drg/TrueType/ directory are "old" versions of the "Core Fonts." I'm pretty sure the "Core Fonts" have been updated since 1996--I'm not sure what the differences are (more characters?) but the fonts are certainly smaller in size and have lower version numbers. The fonts in http://beebo.org/core-fonts I grabbed from the WayBack machine http://www.archive.org/ and are the latest versions they had.

Michael S. | Aug 14, 2002 04:36 PM

Surely if Microsoft wanted these fonts to be "Core Fonts", i.e present on most machines, then re-distribution should not be a problem?

What happens if Linux and other unixes are cut off?

Ian G. | Aug 14, 2002 04:49 PM

hrant: because half of the other MS stuff that comes free (IE, DirectX, etc -- in MS terminology, "OS components") comes with a very notable line in the EULA that says something like: "this product is licensed for use on computers that have a valid Windows license. If you don't have one, you have no rights under this EULA."

The core font pack never had these (in fact, its EULA was pretty liberal), and from MS's point of view, I could well imagine someone calling it a bug in the EULA. Also, given MS' needs to get folk to upgrade, I would say MS is no longer very interested in old Win98 installs getting access to Georgia et al. Note that Franklin Gothic, used all across XP, is not available for download to pre-XP users.

I'd expect the fonts to continue to be available through the IE installer now and maybe download.microsoft.com (with a revised EULA) in the near future.

Incidentally, I believe this trick should work to get at the fonts on old Win98 and NT systems -- unfortunately I don't have an NT box here to try it out :(. Run the IE6 (or IE5.x installer), even if you have IE6 already, with a command line like IE6Setup.exe /C:"ie6wzd /I:Y" (replace IE6 with IE5 if necessary) to get a dialog box of components that have yet to be installed. If Web Core Fonts are not selected, select them here and the installer will get and install 'em for you.

Prasenjeet Dutta | Aug 14, 2002 11:17 PM

Biz Stone has written a nice summary of the last two days’ events.

Stephen Coles | Aug 15, 2002 01:10 AM

Certainly this is newsworthy... but are we making it a bigger deal than it really is?

As long as the fonts continue to be available to Mac and Windows users I don't see a problem.

Frankly, knowing that all the fonts are installed as part of the OS on both Windows and Mac is better than the alternative (relying on users to download and install them). It means I know what fonts my users have on their system and that they're all the same.

Joe Pemberton | Aug 15, 2002 01:56 AM

Certainly this is newsworthy... but are we making it a bigger deal than it really is?

As long as the fonts continue to be available to Mac and Windows users I don't see a problem.

Frankly, knowing that all the fonts are installed as part of the OS on both Windows and Mac is better than the alternative (relying on users to download and install them). It means I know what fonts my users have on their system and that they're all the same.

Joe Pemberton | Aug 15, 2002 02:39 AM

Richard Leger: By giving away high quality fonts for free, it sends the message that fonts should/could all be free.

Excuse me if i'm getting you wrong, but does that mean that high quality browsers (IE, Mozilla, ...) or high quality OS (Linux, *BSD) should stop being free (as in beer, at least) because that substracts value to them.

IMHO, credit to the artist / hacker / creator or public perception of the merit of the work should be increased by other means than adding up to the face value of the item. Otherwise, bakers would be charging much more for the bread, just to pump up their status.

Again excuse me if i'm missing your point or if my english gets wacky often :)

mort | Aug 15, 2002 02:45 AM

Added an update to the main post today.

Stephen Coles | Aug 15, 2002 12:18 PM

Hmmmmmmm...

Does anyone know which fonts are bundles with LindowsOS?. I think we have a winner.

Getcher $300 Lindows PC at Wal-Mart.

John Butler | Aug 15, 2002 02:17 PM

OK, now I'm wondering... When will all four weights of Andale be available? Please, make them freely downloadable, even if only through Windows Update (blech)...

codeman38 | Aug 15, 2002 04:27 PM

Joe sez : As long as the fonts continue to be available to Mac and Windows users I don't see a problem.

Thanks, it's wonderful to know that the rest of us just don't matter.

cos | Aug 15, 2002 04:34 PM

First of all, I'm grateful that Microsoft has been keeping the free fonts on the Web for so long. By commissioning Georgia or Verdana, Microsoft has greatly improved the screen readability.

The "core fonts" were partly or completely owned by Microsoft, it was their intellectual property, they paid for it. So it's their best right to offer the fonts for free when they want it, and to stop giving them away when they want. I can't understand why somebody can be reproached for not giving away something for free anymore?

Also, it is quite interesting that the open source community is so negative about Microsoft and keeps complaining, but in the same time, they are happy "pick out" the best pieces out of Microsoft's software -- just like the Debian fonts installer did... I'd call it "double standards" if you ask me...

Adam

Adam Twardoch | Aug 18, 2002 01:51 PM

Another thing to bear in mind about the open-source community is that, while service contracts might be a reasonable business model for at least some software developers, it is not a reasonable business model for font developers. Microsoft has pumped a lot of money into type designers' pockets over the years, and they devote major resources to providing free font tools. I don't see any consortia of open-source developers lining up to pay for new font development, although I've received plenty of requests for donations of free fonts. Meanwhile, I've seen Microsoft's fonts installed on everything from Linux boxes to mobile phones (not just the web fonts). If non-Windows users want the quality of fonts that Microsoft provide to their users, they should start figuring out a way to pay for font development.

John Hudson | Aug 18, 2002 10:44 PM

Adam, your arguments are sound. But there is at least a partial justification for a double-standard: commercial versus non-profit intent.

hhp

Hrant | Aug 18, 2002 11:06 PM

Yall sound like a bunch of company boys who should be charged for the air you breath.

Copyleft | Aug 19, 2002 01:22 AM

Mr. Stallman,

Go sit down and design your own damn font and get back to us when it's ready. All the best fonts that come with GNU, Linux, and Unix were donated by for-profit companies like Bitstream and URW or commissioned from for-profit (read: for-food-on-the-table) designers like Zapf by non-profit foundations like the American Mathematical Society an X11 Consortium, whose members paid their dues from the salary of their for-profit jobs.

Death to GNU, long live BSD.

As for "non-profit intent." It's not charity when you're not giving away your OWN work. W-o-r-k.

Hrant, please let me know where you keep the title to your car, so I may steal it, sell it, and give the proceeds to the John Butler Free Screensaver Foundation. Because in this day and age, no child should be without a screensaver.

John Butler | Aug 19, 2002 02:13 AM

What does GNU have to do with Microsoft taking down the fonts they have been giving away for years? If you have difficulty with or frustrations about making a living with beziers, I sincerely suggest that you look for a career change instead of waving the flag of closed-circuit software. Microsoft wanted to control the web with their fonts, and GNU/Linux users were part of that. Now Microsoft thinks that controlling the web fonts is worth it only on 2 platforms, and GNU/Linux users have nothing to do with that. You are very mistaken if you think blaming the mostly educational sector of GNU can earn you respect, money, or brownie points with anyone. Companies, for-profit or otherwise, donate software to free systems because they acknowledge the necessity of such systems. Companies, for-profit or otherwise, who donate software to such systems never direct attention to how much work went into their donation. Have you donated anything to free systems? Probably not.

Chris Boyle | Aug 19, 2002 04:56 AM

No I have not donated anything directly to free systems because I make my living solely as a type designer and I'm not about to give away my livelihood. However, I don't have a problem with other people giving away my work for free to third parties if they've paid me appropriately in the first place. Tiro makes lots of fonts that are given away for free by the people who commission them, and this suits me fine: I get paid, the users get legitimate free stuff. Sometimes, the people who commission the fonts decide that they only want the fonts to be free to their users, and not to their competitors users. As far as I'm concerned, that's their call, and if the competitors want to offer free fonts to their own userbase, let them ante-up.

I don't have any difficulty or frustration making a living with beziers (or quadratics). I make a good living designing typefaces, but when I make donations from that living it's to the church and to homeless people, not to opensource software developers.

John Hudson | Aug 19, 2002 08:30 AM

> please let me know where you keep the title to your car

Next to my 20-pound wrench, baby! ;-)

John (Butler), I agree with Adam (and probably you) that we're lucky that MS has provided such great fonts for free, and it's not right to complain that they stopped. But you have to consider *intents* - you can't seriously think MS cares about us. *Individuals* in MS, sure, but the heart itself is arctic cold.

hhp

Hrant | Aug 19, 2002 08:59 AM

NOOOO, Hrant! I NEVER assumed they CARE about us. Enough with the CARING. I don't want them to CARE. I want them to PAY more designers to design more fonts, like they've BEEN DOING. I want their Type Group guys to continue getting paid and advancing standards and donating millions of dollars of MS software (VOLT, VTT, OTLS, the list goes on) to type designers for free. Please leave the "caring" to young, conscientious Hollywood starlets who need dead whales to promote their latest movies.

Mr. Boyle, you're right, I've not yet donated anything to the free software "movement." But if and when I do,

a. It will be MY OWN work, not someone else's;

b. It will be under a BSD license, not GNU.

GNU has to do with the previous post by one "Copyleft," a GNU term.

And I am not doing this for "brownie points." I have been running open source software for a long time now, and I've gotten sick of the increasingly anti-capitalist tone that the RMS/GNU crowd has taken. I enjoy programming and am tired of being told I shouldn't get paid for it. The BSD crowd understands this, and the GNU crowd does not.

This "controlling the web with [one's] fonts" that you speak of sounds like a neat trick. I'm going to have to try it sometime. And I still wager that this move had mostly to do with Lindows, not Debian. I wish MS would acknowledge or deny this, but to do so would amount to free advertising for Lindows.

And to make things clear, sure, it sucks that they removed the fonts. But I understand why they did.

John Butler | Aug 19, 2002 11:13 AM

> I've gotten sick of the increasingly anti-capitalist tone that the RMS/GNU crowd has taken

It's a global issue, and it's right on.

As convenient and comforting as it might be, you can't separate what each of us (including you) does from their context. We all live on this planet, together.

hhp

Hrant | Aug 19, 2002 11:22 AM

I don't think John Butler separates what he does from his context. I suspect he would admit to being a capitalist.

John Hudson | Aug 19, 2002 03:25 PM

I don't think John Butler separates what he does from his context. I suspect he would admit to being a capitalist.

I would, in much the same way as I "admit" to being held down by gravity. Subsidized grad students do not good public policy make.

John Butler | Aug 19, 2002 04:38 PM

Yes yes I want my braggin rights too.

Copycenter | Aug 19, 2002 10:06 PM

You judge too much. Microsoft never explicitly stated who was guilty of abusing their fonts. It is clear that the party most affected by the discontinuation of the fonts is the open source community, but everything still remains speculative. From an open source perspective, it is merely inconvenience, and will eventually be resolved. It may be fashionable in these times of stress and frustration to mock the inconvenienced, but it is always hardly appropriate to do so.

Being comfortable with any kind of reasonable technological freedom that suits the individual, I am not one to judge what GNU or closed-circuit software advocates believe. However, I have been witness to many arguments where one side adopted the line about donating one's own software as opposed to someone else's. Usually the rebuttal is if it weren't for any specifications being available to the public, no for-profit software developer would have a job. This applies in the case of commercial font developers, such as some of you. If Adobe, Apple and Microsoft were to refuse making publicly available the specifications of font formats, your argument falls. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I don't believe anyone wants to go back to the dark ages when Adobe was making it impossible for people to purchase a computer or a printer for a reasonable amount of money.

The stance of open source advocates has more to argue for the collective forwarding of technology rather than anti-capitalism. GNU policy does not care about who sells what and for how much money. It rather cares about what is free and what isn't, what can be used collectively and what cannot. If you (John Butler) use open source programs as you say, you must be very well aware of this point.

Lastly, and tongue-in-cheek forewarned, if Microsoft is that worried about Lindows invading the market, pulling web fonts is hardly a solution. Why not buy them out and bury them in the basement, like every other major closed-circuit software developer does with their puny competition?

Chris Boyle | Aug 20, 2002 02:14 AM

You judge too much.

Microsoft seems to be the party being judged here. Let's apply the same scrutiny and rigor to the people who are judging them.

If Adobe, Apple and Microsoft were to refuse making publicly available the specifications of font formats, your argument falls.

If.

The stance of open source advocates has more to argue for the collective forwarding of technology rather than anti-capitalism. GNU policy does not care about who sells what and for how much money.

I do not have a problem with open source software. I have a problem with GNU's problem with it ("Open Source" in scare quotes; scroll down) GNU's lesser or library public license is fine, but the classic GPL, which Microsoft rightly calls "viral," discourages certain kinds of (usually for-profit) derivative works. Mr. Stallman makes a point of distinguishing the GNU philosophy from Open Source on the above page.

It's strange that you appear not to have known this important distinction. I love Open Source software. I don't consider it anti-capitalist. But GNU and the people who make a point of touting its "superiority" to open source licenses tend in my experience to have a problem with capitalism. And they always make a point of calling it "free software" and not "open source" and will correct you if you use the wrong term.

And still again, I agree that Microsoft yanking these fonts really sucks. If they were concerned about them proliferating, it's too little, too late, and I'm starting to think that it gives their opponents who previously didn't care about their fonts an incentive to redistribute them even more aggressively.

OpenBSD's site has some useful comparisons of different open source and free software licenses. I generally agree with their problems with GNU.

John Butler | Aug 21, 2002 04:39 AM

> .... tend in my experience to have a problem with capitalism

As they should. It's a scourge.

hhp

Hrant | Aug 21, 2002 09:02 AM

oh - i thought you said "capitalization."

jlt | Aug 21, 2002 12:39 PM

Anything that uses ALL CAPitaliSm is indeed a scourge. But as a Socialist trapped in a Capitalist's body (read: Two kids to support and no trust fund to live off of), I understand the need to balance what you would like to do with what you have to do.

rICHARD kEGLER (not Leger) | Aug 21, 2002 01:36 PM

oh - i thought you said "capitalization."

Thanks, Joshua. I really needed that laugh.

John Hudson | Aug 21, 2002 01:43 PM

Speaking of capitalismization, does Typographica have a specific CSS style tag I should use for small caps in my comments and posts? I now feel guilty for my previous multiple capitalasm.

John Butler | Aug 21, 2002 02:27 PM

Yes, you're lucky you can laugh. Never forget how lucky you are, lest you become more than merely indirectly complicit in the misery of millions.

hhp

Hrant | Aug 21, 2002 03:17 PM

I don't believe laughing at my joke can possibly be construed, in any way shape or form, except by the most fiercely true-believing and inflexibly moralistic person, to be anything more than a good laugh. It's hard enough being a human being and going through life every day without accidentally hurting anyone around us, harder still to do what we can do to make the world a slightly better place even in the closed and rotting systems so many of us are stuck in. Let's not take this little corner here and try to punish anyone for laughing, OK?

jlt | Aug 21, 2002 03:29 PM


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