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Microsoft Typography | Type FAQs | OpenType TM initiative FAQ


OpenType initiative FAQ


Please note that this FAQ hasn't been updated since May of 2001, and relates to questions raised before OpenType fonts were being produced (circa 1997) and before OpenType technology started to be built into operating systems and applications. For the latest up-to-date OpenType information see our Developers section. The original context is provided here for historical interest only.



We've put together a list of answers to questions you may have about the OpenType initiative announced in the press release on Monday May 6, 1996.

Please remember that the exact details of OpenType are currently being worked out. Please do not send questions about this subject to the addresses listed here. More information will be available on this site as soon as possible.


Technology issues

Q What is OpenType and how does it relate to Type 1 and TrueType?

A OpenType, also known as TrueType Open version 2, is an extension of Microsoft's TrueType Open format, adding support for Type 1 data. An OpenType font can have Type 1 data only, TrueType data only, or both. The Type 1 data can be rasterized by a Type 1 rasterizer (such as Adobe Type Manager) if installed, or converted to TrueType data for rasterization by the TrueType rasterizer. The exact rasterization behavior will be a function of the rasterizers present in the system, and user preference.

Clearly, this new font format is a superset of the existing TrueType and Type 1 formats, which is designed to provide great support for type in print and on-screen. In addition, the subsetting and compression technology of OpenType makes the OpenType initiative especially relevant to the Internet and the World Wide Web, since it allows for fast download of type.


Q What is the benefit of the OpenType initiative to the end-user?

A So far as customers are concerned, fonts just work. OpenType handles all fonts with a unified registry, which means that both Type 1 and TrueType fonts will be reliably supported across all platforms. In addition, by working together Adobe and Microsoft will drive innovations in quality and on-screen support, resulting in better more viewable fonts for customers.


Q What will happen to existing Type 1 and TrueType fonts?

A From a customer perspective, all existing Type 1 and TrueType fonts will be supported by the OpenType initiative. As part of the agreement between Microsoft and Adobe, however, Adobe will convert popular existing Type 1 fonts to the new OpenType format, and Microsoft and Adobe will jointly promote and develop new OpenType fonts.


Q If I'm an existing user of one font type or the other, what will I do?

A You should continue working as you always have. OpenType will seamlessly support both TrueType and Type 1 fonts.


Q What does this mean for all the type vendors who have large libraries of fonts? Are they obsolete?

A Font vendors don't need to worry. Their existing fonts just work.


Q Will all data types continue to be supported by the OpenType initiative?

A Yes. Because the OpenType font format is a superset of Type 1 and TrueType font technologies, it will continue to support both standards. In the future, both Microsoft and Adobe will invest in promoting and developing OpenType fonts, and as part of the agreement between Microsoft and Adobe, Adobe has agreed to convert some of the existing popular Type 1 fonts to the new format.


Q Which vendors will be supporting OpenType?

A The OpenType initiative is an open standard that will generate broad industry support from publishers, designers, OEMs, printer manufacturers, ISV's, and operating system vendors.


Q Will my fonts just work with new releases of Windows? Do I have to do some kind of funny upgrade? Will things break? Will the fonts be identical between Windows 95 and Windows NT or will there be incompatibilities?

A Fonts just work. There is no need to upgrade, and fonts will be identical between Windows NT and Windows 95.


Q Will MS Windows include a Type 1 rasterizer?

A This issue has not been decided yet, and will be discussed in further detail as the two companies determine how to merge Type 1 and TrueType technologies.


Business issues

Q Why did Adobe and Microsoft decide to end the font wars?

A Both companies realized that merging Type 1 and TrueType is the best solution for customers because now both font standards will be seamlessly supported on the Windows and Macintosh platforms. Additionally, OpenType will allow the industry to drive font innovation, display quality, and print output into new publishing arenas, such as the Web.


Q What does the OpenType initiative mean to Adobe's font business?

A The OpenType initiative represents a new opportunity for Adobe to expand its font business into the Windows market because Type 1 fonts will now work out of the box on all Windows systems. In addition, because Adobe will license TrueType technology, it will now be able to develop and market TrueType fonts.


Q What will Adobe and Microsoft be cross-licensing?

A Both companies will license their respective font rasterizers, production tools, and conversion software.


Implications for the Internet

Q How will OpenType improve the quality of type on the Web / in printed documents?

A OpenType will make it possible for Web page creators to include high quality on-screen fonts with their online documents. The net effect is that page designers will be able to produce richer documents, and at the same time reduce the time required to download and display these documents on the viewers PC. Microsoft and Adobe will jointly submit a proposal to the World Wide Web Consortium for a standard to embed OpenType fonts in WWW pages to make this happen.


Q What is being proposed to the World Wide Web Consortium?

A Adobe and Microsoft together will submit a proposal for Web page font embedding using OpenType to the W3C's working group on style sheets. This proposal supersedes previous separate proposals by Microsoft and Adobe for font embedding mechanisms based on TrueType and Type 1 respectively. The W3C membership will be asked to comment on this proposal. Ultimately we hope that this proposal, or a modified version of it, will be endorsed by the W3C as the standard way to use fonts on the Web.


Q What does the OpenType initiative mean to the Microsoft font announcement made in February?

A The OpenType initiative supersedes previous announcements and incorporates core elements in the Microsoft initiative.


Q Which compression technology will by incorporated into the OpenType initiative?

A Adobe's CFC compression technology and Microsoft's AGFA compression technology will both be supported by the OpenType initiative.


Q When will Microsoft Internet Explorer support font downloading?

A Later this year.


Q When will MS authoring tools support it?

A Later this year.



this page was last updated 1 May 2001
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Microsoft Typography | Type FAQs | OpenType initiative FAQ