When good type goes bad

This week, Jakob mourns the demise of the text sizing buttons in Internet Explorer. He makes a few good points in that users should be allowed to change the size of a website’s text and to facilitate this the text resize button should be reinstated to the toolbar (instead of hidden in customization). He points out that this button should in fact be two buttons: make text bigger & make text smaller (thereby making the task quicker and easier for the user) and that the settings should be remembered for a given website and predicted for other websites which size text in the same manner.

However, what Nielsen crucially failed to point out was that the text size button won’t have any effect on a Windows machine if text is sized in pixels. This is what he should be petitioning Microsoft about.

On a related note, Microsoft have stopped giving away their free web fonts (Verdana, Georgia et al). According to a Microsoft spokesman, the downloads were removed due to abuse in the form of modification and repackaging. As Internet Explorer and Windows operating systems still ship with these fonts, the people most likely to be affected will be Unix users, but they, I suspect, will be clever enough to find alternative sources.

Personally I find Microsoft’s stand a little confusing – sure the fonts belong to Microsoft and they are free to charge or not as they please – but now we are all hooked into Verdana and Georgia, might they start charging for these admittedly excellent screen fonts? Is it really a method to get everyone to download IE just to install them for free? They are already on 90% of the world’s desktops so what’s the problem? Further discussion can be had at Kottke, Slashdot and Metafilter (watch how it degrades into a slagging of Comic Sans).