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About OpenType

5/7/96 - c|net news: Microsoft and Adobe Systems today announced plans to create a universal font format called OpenType that will simplify management of existing fonts on PCs and include compression capabilities to improve performance over the Internet.

The new format will combine existing TrueType and Type 1 font technologies and will work with all existing PostScript printers.

Microsoft will incorporate OpenType into future versions of the Windows operating system (Windows NT5 will be the first to support it fully), while Adobe said it will support OpenType in its graphics, publishing, and Internet products, beginning with an update of its Acrobat electronic document exchange software later this year. The two companies will also seek to broadly license OpenType to other OS and Internet vendors.

Adobe can't seem to decide which companies it wants to partner with on Web fonts. In February, the company announced an alliance with Netscape Communications and Apple Computer to develop a new font standard for Web sites.


This surprising announcement means that Adobe and Microsoft have finally come to terms about fonts.

Microsoft's OpenType FAQ makes it clear that:

"OpenType, also known as, TrueType Open version 2, is an extension of Microsoft's TrueType Open format, adding support for Type 1 data."

Adobe's Q&A about OpenType states:

"OpenType, jointly defined by Microsoft and Adobe, is an extension of Microsoft's TrueType Open format. An OpenType font can have Type 1 outlines only, TrueType outlines only, or both. The Type 1 data can be rasterized by a Type 1 rasterizer (such as Adobe Type Manager) if installed, or converted to TrueType data for rasterization by the TrueType rasterizer."

Before Windows95 was released, it was demonstrated with a feature that installed TypeOne fonts by converting them to TrueType. If you had a PostScript printer you could retain the TypeOne fonts for printing, while still using the converted TrueType for screen viewing. This was a simple way to allow all users access to TypeOne fonts without them having to install ATM. It was also the system used for WindowsNT, where there was no version of ATM

But Microsoft did not end up including this conversion feature in Windows95. Now it seems that Microsoft will use this method after all.

At the same time Adobe has finally developed a version of ATM for WindowsNT. ATM will be available for free download on the Adobe web site for users who want support for Multiple Masters (which aren’t supported by the conversion to TrueType method).

Users would also benefit if ATM was included on the WindowsCD, the way it’s included with the MacOS--so that users who want features such as support for Multiple Masters have this ability without having to download ATM from the Adobe site. It's good to see the two giant companies working together for a change.


To learn more about Adobe's Type1C, compressed font format, read my interview with Adobe's Director of Core Technologies, Bill McCoy.


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Copyright 1996 Daniel Will-Harris, www.will-harris.com