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Freetype Lands In... Microsoft Office? 212

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the share-well-everyone dept.
phy_si_kal writes "Now Microsoft must love free software. Indeed, Office 2011 for Mac (beta 5 at least) uses Freetype! Somehow they figured out the free software 'clean room implementation' of their own (patented) TrueType technology must better suit their needs."
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Freetype Lands In... Microsoft Office?

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  • Must burn. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zarf (5735) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:31AM (#33414822) Journal

    I don't know who wrote TrueType but MS using FreeType must burn them up. I know it would tick me off.

    • Re:Must burn. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:32AM (#33414848)

      Why would it burn them up? There is no financial justification for porting Cleartype when they can just use for Freetype for their Mac version. If they were switching the Windows version to Freetype that would actually be a story.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        They're obviously using the Mac as their testbed - notice its also in a beta.

        If its a success on the Mac, it'll make its way to Windows soon enough.

        They wouldn't want to test it on Windows - if its a massive failure it'll hurt the Windows image... But not on a Mac!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          If its a success on the Mac, it'll make its way to Windows soon enough.

          And you make this claim based on what evidence? Oh wait, none.

          They wouldn't want to test it on Windows - if its a massive failure it'll hurt the Windows image... But not on a Mac!

          Well of course. The Mac ports have pretty much always been a second-class citizen to the Windows version.

          • And you make this claim based on what evidence?

            The same purely speculative one you make your "financial justification" claim. I mean why would they bother developing ClearType if there was a cheap alternative to use? What evidence do you have that implementing Freetype is any easier than implementing Cleartype in a Windows Application on a Mac Environment?

          • Re:Must burn. (Score:4, Informative)

            by bbk (33798) on Monday August 30, 2010 @11:19AM (#33415374) Homepage

            Well of course. The Mac ports have pretty much always been a second-class citizen to the Windows version.

            Only recently. Excel originated on the Mac - 1.0 was Mac-only in 1985.

             

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Dog-Cow (21281)

              Given that the context is desktop software, you have a very strange idea for the term "recent".

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by VGPowerlord (621254)

              Well of course. The Mac ports have pretty much always been a second-class citizen to the Windows version.

              Only recently. Excel originated on the Mac - 1.0 was Mac-only in 1985.

              Mac ports have been second class citizens for no less than 15 years. In computing terms, 15 years is not "recently."

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by symbolset (646467)
                Also, 1985 may have been more than 15 years ago.
              • Re:Must burn. (Score:4, Interesting)

                by cgenman (325138) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:10PM (#33417640) Homepage

                The Mac office team is small, light, and fast. There was a time in the XP days when Office on the Mac was considered better than Office on Windows. It gets certain features later than the windows version, if ever. But the core feels faster, more responsive, and less buggy. I'd take Office on the Mac any day over Office on Windows.

      • Re:Must burn. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Zarf (5735) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:49AM (#33415060) Journal

        If they were switching the Windows version to Freetype that would actually be a story.

        Good point. I was presuming there already was a Mac version of TrueType. If there isn't one already, you are absolutely right.

        • TrueType in Mac OS 7 (Score:4, Informative)

          by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Monday August 30, 2010 @11:16AM (#33415336) Homepage Journal

          TrueType has been in Mac OS since System 6 (as a kernel extension) and System 7 (standard). In Mac OS classic, as in Windows, the rendering engine uses a "hint" to fit the outlines to the pixel grid. These hints are stored as a bytecode program in the font that modifies the outline; the patent covers this use of bytecode. (FreeType can be configured to use these hints or, especially in jurisdictions with software patents, to create its own hints purely from the outline shapes.)

          Microsoft's ClearType rendering engine stretches the outlines horizontally by a factor of 9 before applying hints, which messes up fonts that don't expect this *cough*Helvetica 14px "mnr"*cough*. But because Mac OS X uses antialiasing for all text, it ignores most hints. Perhaps Microsoft wants to make the appearance of text the same across all platforms.

          • by Zarf (5735)

            I guess the Apple guys just got dissed on by the Microsoft guys then... but that's certainly not news.

            • MS and Apple hit the panic button when they have seen relying on Adobe postscript technology to display text may have serious consequences.

              Adobe validated the panic by asking for ridiculous amount of money. They also managed to drive SJobs and Apple nuts, yes both. Rest is Truetype :)

              http://truetype-typography.com/tthist.htm [truetype-typography.com]

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Blakey Rat (99501)

            *cough*Helvetica 14px "mnr"*cough*

            Ok, I'm going to get modded down, but could we stop with the "cough cough" thing? Just say, "like Helvetica 14px." Like a normal human being writing a normal forum post. The "cough cough* thing, assuming it was ever funny, hasn't been funny in years. Now it does nothing but make your post harder to read, and make me think you have no actual sense of humor.

            That said, good, informative, post.

          • by plazman30 (531348)
            TrueType was written by Apple and given to Microsoft. At the time, Apple was having a huge tiff with Adobe and was trying a printer definition language that could replace Postscript. They made a cross licensing deal with Microsoft. Apple was to provide the font technology and Microsoft was to provide the printer language called TrueImage. In classic Microsoft fashion, TrueImage was delayed significantly and when it did finally see the light of day, it was too late, and Apple ended up licensing Postscrip
        • Re:Must burn. (Score:5, Informative)

          by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Monday August 30, 2010 @11:24AM (#33415426) Homepage

          TrueType is a font standard, which has largely been succeeded by OpenType. TrueType was developed by Apple and licensed by Microsoft, while OpenType was co-developed by Adobe and Microsoft.

          On Windows, Microsoft has two text APIs: Uniscribe & GDI, which combine to provide text rendering and a whole lot more, and DirectWrite, which is new to Windows 7 and has much better quality, improved OpenType support, and GPU acceleration. These technologies are so baked into Windows that I'm not surprised at all that they wouldn't want to port them to OS X.

        • Re:Must burn. (Score:4, Informative)

          by 2muchcoffeeman (573484) on Monday August 30, 2010 @11:28AM (#33415492) Journal

          If they were switching the Windows version to Freetype that would actually be a story.

          Good point. I was presuming there already was a Mac version of TrueType. If there isn't one already, you are absolutely right.

          Oh, there's definitely a Mac version of TrueType. Apple developed it 20 years ago [wikipedia.org] to compete with Adobe Type 1 [wikipedia.org] and licensed TrueType to Microsoft for Windows 3.1. It forced John Warnock to open Type 1 and eventually killed Adobe Type Manager [wikipedia.org]. Remember when ATM was something other than a place to get cash or something dirty?

      • The focus on "web inter-op" and publishing. If they are striving for "looks the same on PC, Mac and on the web", their chances are better if they start using a font typeset that is freely distributable to those platforms.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zarf (5735)

          The focus on "web inter-op" and publishing. If they are striving for "looks the same on PC, Mac and on the web", their chances are better if they start using a font typeset that is freely distributable to those platforms.

          If that's the motivation and MS starts pushing back on some of its other in house technologies substituting OSS versions... if I had been an MS developer writing the original versions I might read that as a vote of "no confidence" from my own managers. That would prompt me to look for other work because what I was doing at MS would not be valuable to either MS or the industry as a whole.

          But, I don't work at Microsoft. And other posters have pointed out this may not be at all what is happening in this case.

      • by beelsebob (529313)

        What I find odd is that they don't just use ATSUI – apple's built in true type font rendering, which is rather better than both freetype and cleartype.

        • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Monday August 30, 2010 @11:18AM (#33415354) Homepage Journal

          What I find odd is that they don't just use ATSUI – apple's built in true type font rendering, which is rather better than both freetype and cleartype.

          ATSUI and the Core Text that replaced it in Tiger are Mac-exclusive. If Microsoft used it for Office, it wouldn't be able to ensure consistent document appearance between Mac and Windows versions of Office.

        • by yyxx (1812612)

          ATSUI is more akin to Pango than FreeType; Microsoft probably has their own Pango-like functionality in Office.

          Last I looked, the Mac platform was technically significantly behind Pango in rendering complex scripts.

      • by timeOday (582209)

        Why would it burn them up? There is no financial justification for porting Cleartype when they can just use for Freetype for their Mac version.

        So you're saying there is no financial justification for using Microsoft software when you can just use free software because it's just as good? Gee, I would think Microsoft would be wide open to that rationale.

      • Re:Must burn. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by michael_cain (66650) on Monday August 30, 2010 @12:15PM (#33416102) Journal
        Exactly. If I recall previous statements from Microsoft properly, Office and Office for Mac are based on two completely separate source trees. This is one of the reasons that VBA was dropped in the 2008 version of Office for Mac -- they couldn't justify the enormous effort that would have been needed to port a new VBA to OS X, or to develop it from scratch. So your point about the cost of porting or reimplementing ClearType is spot on.

        A more interesting question to ask is what portions of Freetype are they using and to what purpose. Rendering? Why not use Apple's native rendering engine? People have argued for years over the advantages and disadvantages of Apple's rendering tech relative to MS. MS has traditionally favored visual sharpness at the cost of precise positioning of the characters relative to each other. The cost of that is that at a detailed level, what you see on the screen may not accurately reflect what will be printed. Apple has gone the other way. The characters may look a bit fuzzier, but the positions are proper (again, at a very detailed level) relative to where they should be.

        At least for some Windows applications over the years, the position inaccuracies have caused trouble when it comes to printing. Some word processing programs will (infrequently) get different line-filling results depending on whether they are writing to the display or to a printer. In the worst case, this causes a paragraph to be either one line longer or shorter in the printed document. Depending on how the app handles image placement, the results can be... interesting, as stuff gets pushed onto different pages in different ways.
    • I suppose it depends on your motivations. Do you do what you do because of hate or because you have a passion about something? Or maybe you're somewhere in between and decide to make the most practical choice.

    • Re:Must burn. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:51AM (#33415072)

      I don't know who wrote TrueType but MS using FreeType must burn them up. I know it would tick me off.

      From Wikipedia: "TrueType is an outline font standard originally developed by Apple Computer in the late 1980s as a competitor to Adobe's Type 1 fonts used in PostScript. TrueType has become the most common format for fonts on both the Mac OS and Microsoft Windows operating systems."

      There was a story on Slashdot back in July talking about FreeType celebrating the expiration of the Apple's TrueType patent.

      • by Zarf (5735)

        I don't know who wrote TrueType but MS using FreeType must burn them up. I know it would tick me off.

        From Wikipedia: "TrueType is an outline font standard originally developed by Apple Computer in the late 1980s as a competitor to Adobe's Type 1 fonts used in PostScript. TrueType has become the most common format for fonts on both the Mac OS and Microsoft Windows operating systems."

        There was a story on Slashdot back in July talking about FreeType celebrating the expiration of the Apple's TrueType patent.

        Well, I guess it's the Apple software team that should be ticked then, but, I doubt there's any love lost between the Apple and Microsoft guys.

        • I don't know who wrote TrueType but MS using FreeType must burn them up. I know it would tick me off.

          Well, I guess it's the Apple software team that should be ticked then, but, I doubt there's any love lost between the Apple and Microsoft guys.

          The Apple software team that just had to put out iOS 4.0.2 to fix the FreeType security hole [apple.com] that allowed people to jailbreak their phones (or get hacked by a more evil website with a malicious PDF)? If it's good enough for the company that originally developed TrueType and held the key patents, why not use FreeType?

          • by Zarf (5735)

            I don't know who wrote TrueType but MS using FreeType must burn them up. I know it would tick me off.

            Well, I guess it's the Apple software team that should be ticked then, but, I doubt there's any love lost between the Apple and Microsoft guys.

            The Apple software team that just had to put out iOS 4.0.2 to fix the FreeType security hole [apple.com] that allowed people to jailbreak their phones (or get hacked by a more evil website with a malicious PDF)? If it's good enough for the company that originally developed TrueType and held the key patents, why not use FreeType?

            I'm not saying they shouldn't.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Microsift (223381)

      I thought Apple invented TrueType, but maybe I'm trapped in the reality distortion field.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kimvette (919543)

      Zarf wrote:

      I don't know who wrote TrueType

      Apple did.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TrueType [wikipedia.org]

    • Ironically Apple invented Truetype [wikipedia.org] ;).

    • Apple's never been the best of friends with Microsoft in the first place. No big deal.

      • Apple and Microsoft doesn't "hate" eachother or they don't conspire eachother. I bet MACBU (at MS) is one of the most privileged Developer teams on Apple's OS X Development, I mean for bug reports, help etc.

        MS Office is always and always on top 10 of Amazon's best selling software. Even more interesting, in current (dynamic) list, Mac version is just 1 place below Win32 version.
        http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/software [amazon.com]

        I bet not using ATSUI has something to do with Apple's "font display philosophy" and "

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      According to Wikipedia, Apple wrote TrueType.

  • Overblown (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:31AM (#33414828)

    This is an overblown summary. Come back to us when they switch the version of Office for Windows to using Freetype over Cleartype. This is clearly nothing but a way to save money by leveraging Freetype that already runs on Macs instead of wasting time and money porting Cleartype.

    • by lahvak (69490)

      I agree that the summary is completely idiotic, especially since TrueType was patented by Apple, not Microsoft, as the summary claims, and the patents has since expired.

      However, there is something interesting about it. MS could have used the native font rendering engine on OS X. They had at least three options: native renderer, freetype, or port cleartype. I am not surprised that chose not to port, but their choice seems to indicate that freetype does good enough job emulating cleartype rendering, better

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:31AM (#33414834) Journal
    Microsoft proclaims they love open source [slashdot.org], rumors of Ballmer's departure [slashdot.org] ... and now this?

    Maybe god does exist?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bigpistol (1311191)
      Hell is starting to get a bit chilly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by o'reor (581921)
      Flying pigs spotted here too.
    • by Danathar (267989)

      Using finite terms to describe infinity is contradictory.

  • by mayberry42 (1604077) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:32AM (#33414836)
    Where's the link to the source article? Or is this yet another anti-MS rant?
    • by A12m0v (1315511) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:33AM (#33414858) Journal

      How is this anti-Microsoft? I think it is a good thing that Microsoft is using Freetype.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yeah, but only for the Mac version. This summary is trying to make it seem like Microsoft or the Office team is dumping Cleartype for Freetype which is not true.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MrHanky (141717)

          No, it's not.

          • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:41AM (#33414956)

            Yes it is. The implication is quite clear in this sentence:

            Somehow they figured out the free software "clean room implementation" of their own (patented) TrueType technology must better suit their needs."

            This is nothing but Microsoft saving time and money by using Freetype that is already ported to the Mac instead of doing the work to port Cleartype. This a non-story at best.

            • by xtracto (837672) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:46AM (#33415030) Journal

              Yes it is. The implication is quite clear in this sentence:

              Somehow they figured out the free software "clean room implementation" of their own (patented) TrueType technology must better suit their needs."

              This is nothing but Microsoft saving time and money by using Freetype that is already ported to the Mac instead of doing the work to port Cleartype. This a non-story at best.

              You mean, it is like FreeType "suits better Microsoft's needs" when porting MS Office to OSX??

              And they indeed dumped ClearType for Freetype for this OSX version; that is a true assertion. The fact that they decided to compile others code instead of use their own is exactly that.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by jimshatt (1002452)
              Not every story has to be about MS doing something stupid. If they do the right thing by using FreeType, that's still a story. At least, I thought it was interesting.
            • by MrHanky (141717)

              And this implies they're dumping Cleartype just how? I don't see it. The summary says specifically that it's about the OS X version.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by yyxx (1812612)

              Microsoft and Apple marketing tell you that their proprietary software is supposedly superior, and Microsoft marketing tells you that using open source software contaminates your software. Obviously, if both Apple and Microsoft use FreeType for key products, in preference to software that they would only have to port, that shows that their marketing is lying. This may not be news to nerds, but it is certainly a good argument to use when negotiating the use of FOSS with management.

  • by WillAdams (45638) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:35AM (#33414888) Homepage

    Their ``Royal'' font format.

    http://www.microsoft.com/typography/truetypehistory.mspx [microsoft.com]

    Microsoft got access to it by trading to Apple their ``TrueImage'' PostScript clone (seen that used anywhere lately?)

    William

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:41AM (#33414954)

      Actually, MS got access to it the same way any Mac developer does - by linking to /usr/X11/lib/libfreetype.dylib.

      Seriously Slashdot, what's next - OMG Microsoft is using GCC to compile Office for Mac!

      (Oh, the irony... the captcha for this post was "obvious")

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AshtangiMan (684031)
        Wow. So the truetype library is called "libfreetype". Interesting. Oh yes, the irony is quite thick . . .
      • by Ilgaz (86384) on Monday August 30, 2010 @11:24AM (#33415428) Homepage

        If you link to that particular lib, you must be using X11. Don't link to anything X11 on OS X since it is strictly optional part of OS X install. I don't think MS would require X11 client to have their office to run.

        Oh if MS woke up and adopted itself today, their "Office for UNIX" (I bet they would name linux/bsd one that way) would link to it. Of course, not a chance.

        I agree to whoever you reply to, pretty ironic that Apple uses/licenses freetype too. I smiled when I saw the note on iPod touch license.

        And while on it, their Mac Business unit blog is one of rare MS blogs to follow, for example they had to deal with much more strict gcc coming with XCode/Leopard while compiling MS Office. It is not a "big secret" or anything, OS X Office is truly a Mac program. I heard they experimented with the "actual MS Word on win32" port to Mac OS. Their customers went nuts. They got tricked by "Why doesn't MS Word for Mac doesn't have this?" feedback originally.

        • by drolli (522659)
          I would not wonder if "word for android" appeared in the app stores.
          • It is Microsoft's political/business choice not to ship a UNIX Office. They are clearly capable of doing it. Funny is, it could sell well, but you can only see from amazon top 10, like mac office which people keeps bitching but always on top 3.

            Perhaps they could do some "cloud" fashion thing on Android but, would never ship a real thing on it.

            That is the part of MS which needs to change.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by yyxx (1812612)

              Maybe five years ago, it would still have made a difference. These days, the damage is done: Office alternatives are compatible enough, and people don't need to replicate Microsoft's idiosyncrasies precisely anymore because nobody expects them to work always (they don't even work consistently between Windows and Mac, or different Windows versions).

      • by lahvak (69490)

        Actually, MS got access to it the same way any Mac developer does - by linking to /usr/X11/lib/libfreetype.dylib.

        Wow! How did they manage to do that on a Windows machine back in 1989? I know MS programmers are beast, but linking to a library from a completely different operating system, especially a library that has not even been written yet, that's quite an achievement. They must have used some sort of magic, that's how they circumvented Apple's TrueType patents, too.

  • EEE (Score:3, Funny)

    by mark72005 (1233572) on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:36AM (#33414898)
    I'm confused. What is Microsoft trying to EEE by doing this?
  • Patents expired (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 30, 2010 @10:56AM (#33415124)

    Go to www.truetype.org and read the section on patents.
    "All patents related to the TrueType bytecode interpreter have expired since May 2010. More information regarding this topic is available at our patents page."
    All patents were originally held by Apple up to May 2010.

  • Bail out. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Murdoch5 (1563847)
    Has anyone noticed that when Microsoft needs help and wants to be saved all of sudden Open Source appears in there software. Once again we see right here that when they want better fonts it's Open Source to the rescue, but then again to quote there CEO "Linux is a cancer", he forgot to add, "But we need to steal from them to make our software work".
    • Except it's not all of a sudden.

      You may have missed the last few years of relevant stories.

    • Freetype is under a BSD style license. If it was GPL, then the whole of MS Office for Mac would've to be GPL'ed in order to comply. I guess that's what he meant when he said that.

    • by yyxx (1812612)

      Microsoft has been using open source software under the BSD license for many years (e.g., networking related software); they like the BSD license. So, open source has been "bailing them out" for years. They hate the GPL. Their marketing doesn't make such fine distinctions and they simply like to portray FOSS as inferior and dangerous in general. You see a similar disconnect with Apple, saying one thing to geeks, another to business types (Apple has to tread more lightly in that regard because they obvio

    • by lahvak (69490)

      Fail!

      First, as freetype license is BSD, they are not stealing anything. They have complete right to use it.

      Second, they don't do it to get better fonts. They are using a library that 1) emulate their own cleartype engine well enough for their purposes and 2) already exists on OS X. There is no indication anywhere that freetype is better than their own cleartype. It may be, and when we see them ditching cleartype and using freetype on Windows, we may conclude that it is, but until that happens, MS is sim

  • by Bizzeh (851225)

    "shall we port truetype to mac, or let the idiots have crappy looking fonts?", "hmmn, i cant really be arsed porting truetype to a crap operating system", "hey, guys, check this out, someone has already done the hard work, and its free source too. that means our product will look good, mac users wont feel left out and we can all look cool and get some free publicity by using free software"...

  • Who needs 'em! Give me my Compugraphic Intellifont fonts back!

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