Listen, Calibri. It’s not you, it’s Microsoft. After 15 years, Microsoft announced today that it’s commissioned five new custom fonts — one of which will replace Calibri as its default font.
“Calibri has been the default font for all things Microsoft since 2007, when it stepped in to replace Times New Roman across Microsoft Office. It has served us all well, but we believe it’s time to evolve,” Microsoft said in a blog. The blog itself is a long ode to what makes fonts, well, fonts but the general gist is that Microsoft wants users to weigh in on which font deserves to be The Default.
The five new fonts are Tenorite, Bierstadt, Skeena, Seaford, and Grandview. They’re all sans-serif styles (meaning no strokes at the end of letters) spanning “humanist, geometric, swiss-style, and industrial” vibes. You can dive deep into the design ethos, as well as a glimpse at what they actually look like, in Microsoft’s blog. But if you don’t have all day to read flowery prose about fonts, here’s the TL;DR.
Tenorite is a more geometric sans-serif font that’s inspired by Trade Gothic and is narrower than Calibri, making it a good choice for cramped presentations. Bierstadt is a more contemporary take that’s inspired by Swiss typography (of which Helvetica is the most famous example). It’s similar to Arial, but more like “Arial, but make it less soft.”
Skeena, on the other hand, is a more “humanist” typeface. Apparently, that means slightly curvy with more stroke contrast, or variations between thick and thin parts of letters. Seaford is meant to be a throwback to “old-style serif text typefaces” but if they snipped off the serifs. Meanwhile, Grandview borrows from classic German signage.
According to The Verge, Microsoft plans to pick one of these five fonts by 2022. Microsoft 365 subscribers can actually try them out yourself now by downloading them as Cloud fonts. The stakes aren’t particularly high here. Microsoft says that even if your favourite isn’t picked as default, all five will still be available (along with Calibri). But you know, in case you are feeling competitive about which font should be the default, Microsoft is encouraging folks to tell them via Twitter. While Microsoft is certainly asking for it by asking people to express their opinions on Twitter, of all places, try not to be that troll that asks “What about Papyrus?” Clearly, you should troll with Bauhaus 93 or Bleeding Cowboys.