Hype the Type…


Some of the Microsoft Typography guys have started blogging, good job guys! – check out the FontBlog – this could be a really interesting blog to watch – I think we often take font technologies for granted, operating systems and printers now do such a good job of rendering type and images that it’s easy to overlook the super cool technologies that go into making your screen/printout look good. It’s not that long ago that Windows didn’t have any native font scaling technologies, the first version of Windows that shipped with TrueType fonts was Windows 3.1 which released in 1992. Before Windows 3.1 the desktop operating systems shipped with a number of fixed size fonts! (fixed point sizes, not fixed as in monospaced).


Thinking even further back, applications that ran on MS-DOS often needed to have their own specialized printer drivers, think of WordPerfect, and WordStar, and others – Imagine needing to write a font metrics driver for every application that ran on Windows today, that really doesn’t make any sense, right… Anyhow – how does this relate to Embedded systems design/development I hear you ask… Good question, of course Windows XP Embedded, which is based on the same unmodified binaries as Windows XP Professional SP2 supports the same desktop font/driver model – Windows CE is different. Windows CE supports TrueType scalable fonts, the same as the desktop, but also has support for Bitmap fonts – using fixed size fonts can be useful for devices that don’t need a font scaling engine and TrueType fonts – If you are building a really simple device that has a two line alphanumeric LCD display then using bitmap fonts may be a better solution than TrueType – you also get the benefit of saving space through not needing the TrueType font scaling engine and the TrueType fonts.


More information about the Microsoft Typography group, SDK’s, and tools can be found on the Microsoft Typography page.


– Mike

Comments (5)

  1. Gabe says:

    You do realie that it was DOS 1.25 that came out in 1982, not Windows 3.1 — right?

  2. mikehall says:

    whoops, that should have read 1992, not 1982 – thanks for spotting the typo.

    – Mike

  3. mschaef says:

    "the first version of Windows that shipped with TrueType fonts was Windows 3.1 which released in 1992. "

    This was huge (for me, at least).

    Prior to native TrueType, the only way to get scalable fonts on Windows was Adobe Type Manager. ATM hooked into GDI to intercept font related calls and send some of them over to a PostScript font renderer.

    If you didn’t have ATM, you were forced to struggle with seperate printer and display fonts. I rememeber pretty clearly when my dad spent $100 for a cartridge that added Times Roman in two or three font sizes (with bold and italic!) to our DeskJet Plus.

  4. Tim Lesher says:

    "Windows CE is different. Windows CE supports TrueType scalable fonts, the same as the desktop, but also has support for Bitmap fonts"

    …same as the desktop (see Courier, Modern, MS Sans Serif, etc., all of which are bitmap fonts)

  5. mikehall says:

    Tim, my point is that an embedded developer has the choice of building an operating system that only contains TrueType **or** Bitmap fonts.

    – Mike