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Microsoft is releasing a new default font after 14 years

Microsoft announced on Thursday that a change is coming soon to some of its software. It will choose a new default font for Word and Excel. It means that Microsoft Office users will no longer see the font set by default since 2007, a sans-serif font named Calibri.

The change indicates that this is not the old Microsoft. Since Satya Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO 7 years ago, partners find it easier to work with Microsoft. Instead of stubbornly ignoring them, it has strategically embraced third-party platforms.

However, Lucas de Groot, the Dutch type designer behind Calibri, was surprised by these changes.
During a video interview from his home in Berlin, he said that he had not expected it to be replaced soon.
He said he’s glad Microsoft invests in new fonts to make software more valuable, and Lucas added that he did not expect to be consulted about the decision. He concluded that the choice to change the Calibri was more about keeping up with contemporary trends than improving the font’s legibility.

Lucas De Groot started working on Calibri in 2002. An intermediary asked him to come up with an idea for a monospace typeface for an anonymous client. He was asked to come up with a sans serif font, so he sent off some sketches for Calibri and the monospace work.

Later, the client turned out to be Microsoft, which accepted his proposals, and de Groot traveled to Microsoft headquarters in Washington in 2003 to meet with advisors, designers, and other members of the company’s typography team.

At the meeting, de Groot argued that the company should include old-style characters with varying heights in order to help with reading, and the Microsoft team agreed.

Making the Calibri font

Coming up with the names of the fonts was not easy., Microsoft wanted both of his font names to start with the letter C.

From the beginning, Lucas de Groot proposed Clas, which was associated with class and also a Scandinavian first name, but then the Greek advisor said that in Greek, it meant to fart. Then he proposed Curva or Curvae, but then the Cyrillic advisor said it meant ‘prostitute’ in Russian, which was used as a widespread curse word. Microsoft legal workers also checked every possible name to see if any of them had already been trademarked. Then the company came up with the name Calibri.


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