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Segoe UI (pronounced /si.ɡoʊ. juː.aɪ/) is a sans-serif typeface that is used in new Microsoft products for user interface text, as well as for some online user assistance material, designed to improve the consistency in how users see all text across all languages. It is easily distinguishable from its predecessor, Tahoma, by its rounder letters. Segoe UI is just one of many fonts (at least 27) using the Segoe trademark; others include an extensive range of branding print fonts used internally by Microsoft and their advertising agencies, the Windows Vista handwriting fonts Segoe Script and Segoe Print, Segoe Chess a symbol encoded chess font, several Segoe Media Center fonts, and Segoe TV, which is built into MSNTV set-top-boxes.
The Segoe name, although originally registered to Monotype, is a registered trademark of the Microsoft Corporation.
Segoe UI is optimized for Vista's default ClearType rendering environment, and it is less legible when ClearType is disabled. Other ClearType optimized fonts in Windows Vista include Meiryo (Japanese), Malgun Gothic (Korean), Microsoft JhengHei (Traditional Chinese), Microsoft YaHei (Simplified Chinese), Gisha (Hebrew), Leelawadee (Thai), and the ClearType Collection fonts, Calibri, Cambria, Consolas, Candara, Constantia and Corbel. The standard font size increased to 9 pt. in Windows Vista to accommodate for better layout and readability for all languages. The Windows Vista version of Segoe UI (version 5.00) contains complete Unicode 4.1 coverage for Latin, Greek, Cyrillic and Arabic, totaling 2843 glyphs in the regular weight.
There has been some controversy over Segoe UI's similarity to the Frutiger family of typefaces, licensed by German font foundry Linotype (as of August 2006 a wholly owned subsidiary of Monotype Imaging). In 2004, Microsoft registered certain Segoe and Segoe Italic fonts as original font designs with the European Union trademark and design office. Linotype protested, and in February 2006, the EU withdrew Microsoft's registration. In its submission to the EU, Microsoft claimed that Linotype had failed to properly prove that it had been selling Frutiger and Frutiger Next prior to 2004. The EU rejected these claims. It should be noted that the EU looks at type specimens at 16 point size, in which many of the subtle differences of similar fonts are not noticeable; notwithstanding, this also prevents extremely subtle differences, which could be seen as solely for the reason of obtaining legality, from ensuring that the font gets validated. Microsoft did not appeal the decision.
In practice, while many of Segoe's characters are indeed very similar to those of Frutiger, they are not noticeably more similar than other, less controversial Frutiger-like fonts such as Adobe's Myriad and Apple's Podium Sans. As illustrated here, many letters have very distinct forms, reflecting the fonts' different intended uses (low-resolution screen display for Segoe UI, airport signage for Frutiger). However, Ulrich Stiehl, an outspoken critic of font plagiarism (who also attacks Linotype and Adobe on his site), has claimed that many of these differences were introduced in more recent versions of the font, while earlier versions were closer to Frutiger.
Simon Daniels, a program manager in Microsoft's typography group, quoted in a November 2005 blog entry, states "The original Segoe fonts were not created for or by Microsoft. It was an existing Monotype design which we licensed and extensively extended and customized to meet the requirements of different processes, apps and devices." A Microsoft public relations spokesman, who asked not to be named, stated in April 2006:
It is notable that typefaces can be exactly copied without breaking copyright, as in the case of many PostScript printer manufacturers.
On August 1, 2006, Monotype Imaging announced that it had acquired Linotype from its parent company. Whether or not this signals an end to this chapter in the history of the Segoe fonts remains to be seen.
The Segoe UI font family is available as a part of the Microsoft products named above. It can be obtained as part of Microsoft Office 2007 or Windows Vista. As mentioned in the opening paragraph certain Segoe fonts, but not Segoe UI, were included in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, replacing Trebuchet MS.
Categories: Articles with unsourced statements since February 2007 | All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since March 2007 | Typefaces | Windows Vista typefaces | Sans-serif typefaces