Fonts are designed by people. Fonts don't grow on trees or spring out of the ground; they are designed – drawn or constructed – by individual type designers, who usually labor in obscurity but whose work we make use of every day.
Microsoft's ubiquitous web font Verdana, for instance, was designed by Matthew Carter, probably the best known (least obscure) type designer working today. Carter has a background that stretches across nearly all the technologies of type design and production. As a young man in the 1950s, he was one of the last to learn the techniques of cutting metal type punches by hand. In later years, he developed typefaces for hot-metal composition, for photocomposition, and for several generations of digital typesetting, eventually drawing Verdana, Georgia and other typefaces meant for reading onscreen.
Type design is a constant dialog between the constraints of technology and the needs of human reading. In the days of metal type, each character had to fit on the end of a piece of solid metal. It would then be composed, locked in a form, inked, and printed. In these days of reading on a computer screen, how a font is displayed is very important.
Microsoft continues to invest in research, software development and type design to create fonts that will look good and function well at many different sizes and resolutions, on many different kinds of displays, in an almost infinite range of contexts. This is one reason why developing a usable text typeface is not a quick or easy job; it takes craft, skill, technical knowledge, and hard work.
Text has long been the primary means of exchanging, communicating, editing and recording our ideas. Today with the web, email, texting, instant messaging, word processing, presentation creation and even spreadsheets we interact with text more than we have ever done in the past, and we do so in ways that speech, video and emoticons never will.
It's impossible to separate text from its visual representation, and that's where fonts come in. Although some people will never use anything other than the default fonts, Microsoft provides a wide range of fonts with Windows. Every font has a unique personality and can be used to subtly, and in some cases unsubtly, change the way text is read.
Microsoft ships an extensive collection of fonts with Windows to support users around the world in almost any language. Basic, clean and legible fonts are used by Windows to display menus, dialogs, labels, etc. These are commonly referred to as UI or “User Interface” fonts. Since Windows Vista, the UI font for Western languages has been Segoe UI, which was optimized for precisely this use.
Microsoft has also developed or licensed an array of fonts to create, view and print content in many different languages and scripts. The richest variety of Windows fonts may be found in fonts for the Latin, Greek and Cyrillic alphabets, but Windows includes fonts for use with all the major languages and writing systems used around the world.
With Windows Vista, Microsoft included the ClearType Font Collection, Calibri, Cambria, Consolas, Constantia, Candara, Corbel and Meiryo. These fonts were developed to improve the on-screen reading experience. Each of the ClearType fonts includes Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic support. Also created for reading on screen was a new Japanese typeface, Meiryo.
New Fonts in Windows 8
Windows 8 features 16 new fonts. These fonts extend the language and script support offered by Windows. The new Windows 8 fonts were developed to enhance the Windows user interface for various languages and also the user's online and offline reading experience.
More information about fonts:
OpenType is a font format developed jointly by Microsoft and Adobe as an extension of Apple's TrueType font format. OpenType fonts offer a potentially rich typographic palette and multilingual support. Microsoft Windows supports both TrueType and OpenType fonts, as well as legacy PostScript Type 1 fonts.
Scalable, retains letter shapes.
Jagged at larger sizes, not scalable.
OpenType fonts are outline fonts. Outline fonts can be scaled to any size and will maintain the same shape (unlike bitmap fonts, which are specific to a particular size and resolution and may look jagged at larger sizes).
OpenType, like TrueType, is based on Unicode, the system for encoding all of the world's writing systems. OpenType fonts can potentially contain many thousands of characters. This means that an OpenType font may contain multiple alphabets (such as Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic; or kanji, kana, and romaji for Japanese use). OpenType fonts can also include typographic refinements such as true small caps, different styles of figures, and extensive sets of ligatures and alternates, as well as complete sets of accented characters and diacritical marks. Different applications have differing levels of support for all the OpenType features.