Fonts licensed for web apps

Following on from yesterday’s post regarding Opera’s probable support of web fonts, there comes a timely press release from font publishers, Ascender.

Ascender Corporation announced a new licensing program for font software implementations with server-based applications. This new program addresses the limitations with standard end user font licenses. The Ascender Server Font License program grants organizations the right to install fonts on a server for use with an application that can be accessed by an unlimited number of users. The server license is available for either internal use (i.e an Intranet within an entity), or external use (for Internet-based applications).

This is a fascinating development as Ascender has a close relationship with Microsoft. Primarily it distributes Microsoft’s fonts. Could this mean there are plans for web fonts support in IE7? I’m not quite sure how else ‘fonts installed on a server for access by an unlimited number of users in a web application’ would work.

Of course I’m probably kidding myself, and the licenses are really intended for Silverlight. According to this developer, Silverlight embedding of fonts is totally different to Flash:

In Flash the font is compiled into the SWF file. Since Silverlight 1.0 is JS based there is nothing to compile it into and in 1.1 to my knowledge there is no way to extract resources from the DLL; if you stick the font in there (which you can do) you can’t get it out again. What that means is you need to stick the font up on the server with the rest of the project resources.

Still, the fact the licenses have been created has to be a good step forward. And in case you think Microsoft’s fonts are limited to Arial, Verdana and the Cleartype fonts, think again. Here’s a handy – and lengthy – list of fonts by Microsoft product, which should give some food for thought for your font stacks.