Microsoft Vista & fonts

This page provides a comprehensive overview of the way fonts are handled by Microsoft Vista. It covers the following topics:

  • What is new?
  • Font types that Vista supports
  • Typefaces that are included in Vista
  • How to install fonts?
  • Other sources of information

What is new in Vista when it comes to fonts?

  • Compared to Windows XP, Vista ships with 6 new general-purpose fonts: Calibri, Cambria, Candara, Consolas, Constantia, and Corbel. These are all OpenType fonts with TrueType outlines.
  • Segoe UI is the name of the new system font. This font contains Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic character sets and has been optimized for ClearType. Its default size is set to 9 points, for increased readability. The typeface is slightly controversial as it is remarkably similar to Frutiger Next, a Linotype font.
  • ClearType, which is Microsoft’s technology to improve the appearance of text on (LCD) screens, is now turned on by default. It has also been integrated into the text-rendering engine of WFP, the Windows Presentation Foundation. Even though ClearType anti-aliasing makes text look smoother, it can also cause it to display a color cast, something that is particularly annoying in prepress.
  • Microsoft added support for Adobe OpenType CFF/Type2 fonts, which includes enhanced support for ligatures.

Font types that are supported by Vista

Like all operating systems, Windows Vista offers applications a structured way to access system functions and data, such as fonts. Instead of having one single such API, Vista has three of them which all have their own text rendering engines.

1. GDI (used in most Win32 applications) supports:

  • Type 1 (as with other versions of Windows, you need .PFM and .PFB files)
  • Multiple Master (see the workaround below on how to get them working)
  • TrueType (.TTF/.TTC/.OTF)
  • OpenType (using CFF outlines, .OTF)
  • bitmap fonts (.FON)
  • Old vector font format fonts (typically .FON as well).

2. GDI+ supports:

3. The new WPF supports:

Fonts that are included in Vista

The fonts that are included in Vista take up over 290 MB and they contain over 712,000 glyphs (character shapes). You can find a full list on this page.

The four Arial Narrow fonts that initially shipped with Vista were kaput. They didn’t show up correctly in the font menus of Adobe applications. Microsoft released an update for Arial Narrow around September 2008.

How to install fonts

There are a couple of ways of installing fonts in Vista:

  • Right-click on the font files and  ‘Install’ from the contextual menu.
  • Go to the Fonts control panel, right-click in the background of the font list and select ‘Install New Font’ from the pop-up menu.
  • Right-click the fonts folder which can be found in your Windows directory and select ‘Install New Font’ from the shortcut menu.
  • How about simply copying fonts to the Fonts folder (usually C:\Windows\Fonts)? It used to be bad practice in the old days but with Vista, this works fine.

How many fonts can you install? There are people who have a few thousand fonts installed and Vista is pretty happy with that. All Windows versions that have been released in the last 8 years or so are designed to cope with such large font lists. The system only loads the fonts that it is using. To keep your font list manageable, you may still want to invest in a font manager, such as SuitCase.

There are two ways to install Multiple Master fonts on a Vista system:

  • If you only need those fonts in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop, copy the Multiple Master fonts in a shared Adobe fonts folder (e.g. C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Fonts or the Fonts folder within an application folder).
  • You can install the fonts using ATM Light or Deluxe. Unfortunately, ATM can only be installed after disabling Vista’s User Account Control (UAC). More details can be found on this Typblography page.

Fonts that should never be deleted in Vista

I haven’t found a list of the mandatory Vista system fonts anywhere, even though such lists exist for other flavors of Windows. It is a reasonable assumption that you should not delete any of the fonts that cannot be deleted in XP. You also shouldn’t remove the new Segoe UI system font. Add a comment to this article if you know the full list of fonts that should not be removed from Windows Vista.

Other sources of information

As usual, there is lots of good stuff to be found on the web but I haven’t run across Vista-related prepress stuff yet. Some basic Microsoft tips can be found here.