Sharp-eyed Microsoft Office users might have noticed that the default fonts are changed in Office 2007. The old familiar names are still there – Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, and Courier New – but the defaults are newcomers Cambria, Calibri, and more.
Microsoft had originally proposed standardized fonts for the Internet in 1995 and built Arial, Times New Roman, and several more deeply into Windows XP and Microsoft Office. They became ubiquitous across the web and virtually every computer user has them installed on their computers. For more than ten years most web sites have been designed with just a handful of fonts, usually Arial, Verdana, or Times New Roman.
With the release of Vista, Microsoft updated those core fonts with a family of new fonts closely resembling the old styles but with improved legibility for printing and onscreen viewing. Here’s a chart that compares Cambria with Times New Roman, Calibri with Arial, and so on.
There are people who care about these things. On the whole, they’re impressed by the work done by Microsoft’s typography team. There are sophisticated studies of legibility where the new fonts have done well.
It’s not completely obvious that Cambria and Calibri will be as dominant as Arial and Times New Roman, but there’s no reason to resist them. Don’t go back to Times New Roman in Word 2007 out of nostalgia!