Microsoft are really really bad people (?)

Typogruffer's picture

Hey all,

This is the link posted by zeno333 ( http://www.typophile.com/node/95122 ) to know what is your favorite letter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F691weEVpwc
There is another thing towards the end of the video where Mr. Spiekermann criticizes Microsoft a lot. He goes to say that Microsoft is a company with bad tatse and stingy( since they didn't want to pay Linotype their license). He also says they commissioned Segoe to look like Frutiger and Arial to look like Helvetica.
I think Microsoft does a lot in the field of Typography(OpenType and VOLT). I also personally like Segoe UI more than Frutiger.
Do you think Mr. Spiekermann is right here?

Thanks
T

Si_Daniels's picture

I can't speak for everyone at Microsoft, but personally yes, I am a bad person. ;-)

hrant's picture

Back when MS was a fascist entity (like Apple is now) I disliked everything about it very much. But once MS had nothing more to prove it became a positive force, especially when it comes to our favorite thing: type. Everybody makes mistakes, including MS and Spiekermann, but I respect both of them a great deal.

hhp

Typogruffer's picture

Why did not Microsoft want to pay the license fee to Linotype? I always thought it is easier to get license than to commission a new font. They are definitely not worried about since they had loads in their bank, as Mr. Spiekermann says.

dezcom's picture

Oh dear Si, thank you for being the highlight of my day! :-)

Si_Daniels's picture

From now on I am modeling my behavior on the badness encapsulated by the Seattle Seahawks defense. :-)

oldnick's picture

What I find disturbing is that guys like this can vote…

sko's picture

IIRC: Arial and Segoe existed before Microsoft licensed them, although the latter had some modifications made before being bundled with the OS. Arial, the design being made 10 years before MS bundled it with Windows.

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

"...the end of the video where Mr. Spiekermann criticizes Microsoft a lot."

I'm sure there is a longer version.

quadibloc's picture

I have no idea why Microsoft chose Arial instead of Helvetica.

However, Arial does have its good points. It's less strongly oriented to display use than Helvetica - so it can also be used in place of Univers. So they got greater versatility in return for licensing only one typeface from Monotype instead of two from elsewhere.

Also, they needed to license Times Roman, and that's a Monotype typeface - so maybe their reason was wanting to deal with only one vendor. You get discounts that way.

John Hudson's picture

I've always understood this history simply in terms of Monotype being Microsoft's go-to font provider at that time, so they ended up licensing Arial instead of Helvetica and, most controversially, Book Antiqua instead of Palatino. Microsoft's relationship with Monotype was very close: Monotype personnel were stationed at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters, mostly doing TT hinting.

Later, MS licensed Palatino Linotype -- in part, I believe, to try to right the wrong --, but for backwards compatibility reasons decided that they couldn't ditch Book Antiqua. So Windows now ships with both font families.

Segoe... well, that's a later and still controversial development, but I don't think it can be ascribed to not wanting to pay the license fee for Frutiger because MS had already licensed Frutiger from Linotype by that point.

quadibloc's picture

If I'm going to be picky about English usage, I suppose I might also be picky about the distinction between the fonts shipped with the Microsoft Windows operating system, and the much larger selection shipped with Microsoft Office, along with Microsoft Word.

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

"Arial ['s] less strongly oriented to display use than Helvetica"

That's a neat trick! Can you demonstrate?

quadibloc's picture

That should have been "[Arial]'s less strongly..." - but I'll admit that this is a subjective impression. Helvetica seems to me to be far superior as a display face, but Arial at least slightly better as a text face.

hrant's picture

I agree (and that's also one reason most designers tend to prefer Helvetica, because they generally look at things superficially I'm sorry to say). BTW this might be related to the shearing of the terminals.

hhp

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

Yes, but can you demonstrate either?

hrant's picture

Let's get Kevin.

hhp

Celeste's picture

Microsoft-bashing has always been one of the favorite sports within the graphic design community (Mac people, most of them). In my opinion, MS has done a lot of things recently (financing the design of the fonts included in the ClearType “package”, for instance) which would justify a dramatic reversal of attitude on our part…

Typogruffer's picture

I did work on both mac and windows (used adobe programs) and I hardly find any difference. People associate windows with "the blue screen of death" but my computer crashed only once in 3 years. Most of the crashes that people experience are probably due to bad hardware. This can also be true because i am one of the younger designers here and never got pained by archaic MS.
Any way did anyone try FLStudio on Windows 8?

Karl Stange's picture

MS has done a lot of things recently

Less recently they have also been responsible for pioneering OpenType technology and developing powerful tools such as Visual TrueType and VOLT, both of which are offered to developers free of charge. Also, the Microsoft Typography site contains a wealth of information about font technology.

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

"Most of the crashes that people experience are probably due to bad hardware."

I think that's probably what Mr. Spiekermann meant. Some people have bad hardware, but that doesn't make them bad people.

Theunis de Jong's picture

I did work on both mac and windows (used adobe programs) and I hardly find any difference

Adobe software has its own type rendering engine, so it effectively shields you from 'local' OS oddities.
As a consequence, one of the things that can go wrong with this workflow is Apple's proprietary changes to perfectly good fonts.
For one, it has been noted on the Adobe InDesign forum that Apple's version of Baskerville has such weird hinting that Adobe's rendering actually makes it worse to read, rather than the perfectly good job they pull off with your average font.
The system font "Helvetica Neue" is so messed up that it has been advised to entirely avoid it (even if you can get it to work, sometimes you get pretty weird results when trying to embed it into a PDF).
Their private implementation of embedding color bitmaps into the Apple Emoji font is exactly that: private, undocumented, and not supported by any other software than Apple's (see Unicode Definition For Dummies? Also: pixel precision for a full discussion).
Likewise, Apple's Advanced Typographic options are only available in Apple's own software; InDesign cannot access them.

Compare this with Microsoft's continuous updating of Uniscribe (their OpenType interpreter), to such a point that Word, lousy as it may be, effortlessly displays complex interacting glyphs where InDesign, Adobe's "flagship of typography" fails miserably.

hrant's picture

In many ways Apple is becoming what MS was in the 90s, not least in our favorite field - typography. And just like I used to speak out against MS -and its products- back then, I speak out against Apple and its products now. It's not "platform religion" (if anything my heart remains with my first experience, Commodore) it's social responsibility, in a field that's been at the core of my life since 1977.

hhp

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

Hot air, layered over more hot air.

"Compare this..."

You, are comparing a company that was there, done and waiting a decade ago, to a pair of companies who are still trying to figure out integration, and I don't mean with each other.

Bye! :)

Chris Dean's picture

You do know I’s all a conspiracy, right? And it’s been planed since the giant anti-trust suit. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft).

MS was having serious PR problems, and users were jumping ship. So they cooked this up:

1. Create an OS that Windows users didn’t like (Vista)
2. Drive them to Mac
3. Fade into the background
4. Let Mac get big and evil (present day)
5. Let MS go on the brink of bankruptcy
6. Evil Mac comes to the rescue, saving the poor now underdog of MS, thus forever ending their cold war and also making themselves look friendly
8. Presto, we now have a company even bigger and more evil than either were alone!

I’m now quite sure where Google fits into this delusion, but I know they’re in there somewhere.

Flip the bacon! Flip the bacon!

quadibloc's picture

In encountering U&lc magazine lately, I learned about Haas Unica being an attempted improved version of Helvetica.

As a display face for signs in airports, I don't think that it's possible to improve on Helvetica Medium - in that niche, it has achieved perfection. But, shown in a text setting, it seemed to me to be better than Helvetica, and just about as good as Univers - so apparently the "improvements" did improve something.

But I'm sure that the improvements were subtle.

Typogruffer's picture

Flip the bacon! Flip the bacon!

I sometimes don't understand the expressions used by native English speakers, so I Google them and I am also not dissapointed by the results i get: Bacon flip at Urban dictionary(it is offensive)
I know urban dictionary is not a credible source but it is funny

Chris Dean's picture

“Flip the bacon! Flip the bacon!” is not meant to refer to Microsoft in any way. It’s an obscure Fresh Prince of Bell-Air reference. I guess you had to be there.

Syndicate content Syndicate content