New Windows Vista font not as original as Microsoft says?

Chicago (IL) - Three weeks ago, we reported that Microsoft is planning to replace the "Tahoma" font in Windows XP with the newly developed "Segoe UI," which is designed to be less "computer-y" and is more readable on LCD screens. Now it appears that Segoe UI may not be that new. According to a report in a German newspaper, it is virtually identical with the "Frutiger Next" font.

Microsoft's Jensen Harris recently used his blog to introduce Segoe UI and briefly described the font's origin and the benefits it will bring to users of Office 12 and Windows Vista. It is designed to be a more "humanistic, friendly font that would seem less 'computer-y' than Tahoma" and would be capable of taking advantage of the firm's ClearType technology.

Harris highlighted that Segoe UI comes out Microsoft Typography, the company's font research division that has been working on fonts that are easy to scan and easy to read on-screen for the past decade. "These guys know their stuff, and we knew it would make a positive difference in the user interface," Harris writes.

Now there is at least some indication that Segoe UI, designed by Steve Matteson, may not be quite as revolutionary as Microsoft says. The German daily newspaper "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" is reporting that Bad Homburg, Germany-based Linotype has filed a trademark complaint in Spain, alleging that Microsoft may have plagiarized its "Frutiger Next" font.

In fact, Segoe UI and Frutiger Next appear to be virtually identical at first sight. Eagle eyes may spot slight differences in the number "1" or the letter "j." Font designers who have been discussing Segoe UI since it was unveiled in late November, have no doubt that Microsoft may be copying from the Frutiger font. "With Segoe, we are repeating something what happened with Arial," Ingo Preuss, founder of is quoted. Arial is commonly believed to be derived from Helvetica, which was developed back in 1957 for the Zurich airport.

"Frutiger" originally was developed in 1970 by Adrian Frutiger, as font to be used by the Paris airport. "Frutiger Next" was developed by German font designer Erik Faulhaber in 1997 as modernized version of the original Frutiger and was first used by the Alte Pinakothek, a museum in Munich, Germany. Faulhaber confirmed to the newspaper that Segoe UI and Frutiger Next are "very similar." But, apparently, he does not consider taking legal action. Instead, he is "honored" that his design idea is being popularized, he told the paper.

Microsoft declined to comment on the report. "We have nothing to share as it is not Microsoft's policy to comment on rumors and speculation," a spokesperson said.

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