Following our proposal for a Web specific OpenType-based font format (which we named OTW), we received a lot of feedback from type designers, web designers and publishers. Most of the feedback was positive. People saw that differentiating web fonts from desktop fonts, and including licensing information in the font file was a step in the right direction.
Moving the plan forward, we felt that with the support of browser makers we could have OTW standardized within two years, and have the majority of installed browsers supporting it within five to six years, based on current browser upgrade rates.
However, web designers want to use commercial fonts today. They don’t want to wait five or six years. This is evident from the use of Flash-based solutions, and the interest in commercial services like TypeKit. So we took a step back and asked ourselves what can we do to accelerate the rate of adoption? With this in mind we decided to take another look at EOT.
Microsoft’s EOT format has a large installed base and is supported in every version of Internet Explorer since IE version 4. And as IE users are typically the slowest to upgrade, adding EOT support to other browsers would provide a quicker adoption of a single web font standard because the other browsers have much faster upgrade rates. However, we know that the other browser makers don’t like EOT because it includes URL binding, proprietary compression and gives Microsoft a head-start.
With this in mind we propose “EOT Lite”. Essentially EOT minus URL binding and compression, but with the addition of licensing information. The benefits are obvious, EOT Lite fonts will work with IE4 and above, can be easily supported in other browsers, and with their faster upgrade rates, we could see 90% of installed browsers supporting the format within a year. EOT Lite would still have the benefits of OTW: a font file that is differentiated from desktop fonts and containing license information.
In summary, and as a result of a significant dialogue with many stakeholders, we believe EOT Lite is the right solution for web fonts. We encourage everyone to support this solution with us.