This won’t be news to font fanatics, but anyway… Microsoft will be distributing six new fonts, called the ClearType Font Collection, that are optimized for on-screen reading. They will start shipping with various Microsoft products next year. But these fonts won’t be freely downloadable (unlike Microsoft’s Core Fonts for the Web, for a while). This makes them less likely to be widespread on Linux, and Apple hasn’t decided whether to license them for the Mac. You can bet that many web sites will soon “look best” on Windows. Too bad embeddable web fonts never took off.

Also, Microsoft commissioned Monotype to create a new font to be used in marketing material and as the new system font for Longhorn, the next version of Windows. The new font, called Segoe, looks a lot like Frutiger, published by Linotype. This isn’t the first time a Monotype font commissioned by Microsoft has looked so similar to a Linotype font. Others have pointed out the similarities between Helvetica and Arial, and between Palatino and Book Antiqua.

This led many fontophiles to conclude that Monotype and Microsoft teamed up to rip off Linotype once again. Others with insider info say that Microsoft never intended to commission a Frutiger clone, especially since Microsoft already has a license for Frutiger from Linotype, and is working with Monotype and Linotype to resolve the issue. And there are those who point out that Adobe’s Myriad is also close to Frutiger, but doesn’t give Frutiger due credit. But John D. Berry argues that if your goal is to create a vaguely humanist sans-serif typeface, the result is bound to look similar to Frutiger. Boy, it’s complicated.

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