I Guess No One Cares About Fonts

Last week, I
wrote about Segoe UI,
the new font used to render the user interface of Office 12 and Windows Vista.

I intended it to be a little fluffy "FYI" piece.  Little did I anticipate
the flurry of comments and feedback and e-mail and blog entries.  Font
this, font that!  Font font font font font!!!

So today, a little more about Segoe UI, starting with a mea culpa
To save time, I pulled the picture of Segoe UI I published last week from the beta version of the
Windows Vista UX
Guidelines in MSDN

That was a mistake.  It turns out that whomever made the picture used Segoe
(Microsoft's corporate branding font) and not Segoe UI (which is the font we are
using in the Office 12 interface.)

Simon Daniels, lead fonts program manager for Microsoft Typography, sent me mail
to correct my mistake.  He also provided me with an updated picture of Segoe UI,
which I reproduce below.  (I've also updated the picture in the original

Segoe UI is the new user interface font for Office 12 and Windows Vista

Simon, who knows 500x more about fonts than I do, has been one of our point
people on the Segoe UI effort for Office.  He wrote the following short
background on Segoe UI which I hope you'll find interesting:

"Segoe UI is a four member typeface family included with Windows Vista
and Office 12 for User Interface use.  Its used widely by Windows
Vista components but can also be specified by third party apps running on
Windows Vista that may wish to take advantage of it in order to have the
Windows Vista look and feel.  Efforts are underway to enable third
party apps running on Windows XP to access the fonts too.

"Each Segoe UI font includes well over 2,200 characters, supporting Unicode
4.1 coverage of Latin, Cyrillic and Greek based languages and includes
support for IPA (international phonetic alphabet) and combining diacritics.

"The Segoe fonts are provided as TrueType flavor OpenType fonts, and as such
can be used to author regular documents or create graphics, but the fonts
themselves have been tuned for use as UI fonts at 8pt, 9pt, and 10pt under
the ClearType rendering environment.

"Although the fonts have been optimized for ClearType (the Windows Vista and
Windows Presentation Framework default experience), concessions have been
made for regular bi-level (black and white or aliased) rendering, or for
regular grayscale antialiasing.

"Segoe UI was drawn in the humanist sans-serif style evoking natural, almost
hand drawn letter shapes.  As a humanist sans design it shares
characteristics with Adobe Myriad, Verdana, Corbel, Lucida Sans and the
father of the humanist sans movement Frutiger.  Unlike Verdana and
Frutiger the typeface has a lively true italic, not based on an obliqued or
slanted regular style.  Also unlike the humanist sans faces designed
primarily for print-use the fonts include distinctive letter shapes that
help the user distinguish between easily confused characters like lowercase
l and uppercase I.

"Finally, Segoe UI is just one part of the extended Segoe family of
typefaces.  This family also includes contextual cursive handwriting
fonts (Segoe Script), a hand drawn non-cursive font (Segoe Print), special
fonts for TV use (Segoe TV), a symbol font for hardware decals (Segoe HW)
and a fourteen member set used for branding and corporate communications.

"One final note: The original Segoe fonts were not created for or by
Microsoft.  It was an existing Monotype design which we licensed and
extensively extended and customized to meet the requirements of different
processes, apps and devices."

There you have it, direct from the expert.  Thanks, Simon!