The Web Open Font Format
, already backed by Mozilla and many type foundries
was accepted by the World Wide Web Consortium yesterday, marking the first stage in its standardization. The submission included a surprising new sponsor: Microsoft.
Font distribution is a hairy issue. The fundamental problem is that using a particular font within a Web browser requires that font to be available on each and every machine that will visit the page. The font choice obviously has a substantial impact on the appearance of a page, but because the font must be available on each visiting machine, designers are generally forced to stick with the small number of fonts that are widely installed and distributed; the result is that we see a small selection of fonts (such as Arial and Times New Roman) used over and over again. Microsoft has in the past shipped a pack of fonts, the Core Fonts for the Web
to provide a few common options that designers could rely on, but the company stopped distributing them in 2002 after consistent EULA violations.