19 June 2006

Microsoft's Other Monopoly

I've often wondered about this.

Hakon Wium Lie, chief technology officer of Opera Software, has a positively wonderful post about "Microsoft's forgotten monopoly":

The story of how Microsoft used its monopoly in operating systems to acquire a dominant position in office applications and browsers has often been told. But there's another Microsoft monopoly that's rarely mentioned, even though most of us see it every day--right in front of our eyes.

Microsoft's fonts are used to display most Web pages on the planet. Even Linux and Mac users, who often have fled Windows to avoid dependence on Microsoft, read most of their content using Microsoft fonts.

His solution?

The time has come to break the Microsoft monopoly on fonts. This is easier than it sounds. There are thousands of font families on the Web--I call them Web fonts--that are freely available for anyone to use.


Just as the visual appearance of the Web changed dramatically when images were introduced by Mosaic in 1993, the Web can change yet again if browsers start supporting Web fonts. I believe it will benefit everyone on the Web.

Except, perhaps, the monopolist.

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