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Microsoft Shafts Calibri, Picks Aptos As New Default Font

In a move that signals appearances mean everything, Microsoft has jettisoned its signature Calibri font and replaced it with Aptos. While Microsoft software and iconic applications such as Outlook and Office 365 will function the same, they will look different in future.

Microsoft’s statement about the change begins like a funeral address, noting the passing of Calibri which has been the default font since 2007.

“Dear every human on earth that’s ever typed text,”, it says, “For 15 years, our beloved Calibri was Microsoft’s default font and crown keeper of office communications, but as you know, our relationship has come to a natural end. We changed.”

Microsoft’s rationale is that it needs a better default font for the age of higher resolution screens. The new font has to offer sharpness, uniformity and look great as display type.

It began a search in 2021, initially naming five that were under consideration: Tenorite, Bierstadt, Skeena, Seaford, and Grandview.

Microsoft unveils its new default font Aptos.

Users had the chance to give the company feedback, and three years later, it chose Bierstadt which has been renamed Aptos. Albert Bierstadt was a German American painter in the 19th century. Bierstadt is also German for “beer city”. But the association is neither of these. Nor is Aptos associated with the coming age of web3, Aptos Labs and the Aptos blockchain.

Microsoft says Aptos was the pick of the font’s creator Steve Matteson and is “his favourite unincorporated town in Santa Cruz, California, whose widely ranging landscape and climate epitomizes the font’s versatility”.

“He wanted Aptos to have the universal appeal of the late NPR newscaster Carl Kasell and the astute tone of The Late Show host Stephen Colbert,” says Microsoft.

Microsoft describes Aptos as a sans serif font with clean cut stem ends, with circular squares within the letters’ contours. Microsoft says this allows for higher legibility, especially at small sizes.

Microsoft unveils its new default font Aptos.

“There are different font weights to help set modes and direct the reader’s attention,” it says.

In particular, it offers more clarity. “The heads of i’s and j’s are circular dots as opposed to grotesque squares. 6 is single stroked while two piled ellipticals make 8.”

The tech giant says it will retain the other four new fonts it considered from 2021: Grandview, Seaford, Skeena, and Tenorite, but they just won’t be the default.

Microsoft unveils its new default font Aptos.

As for Office 365 – Microsoft has signalled it will be transformed by Aptos.

“Aptos is a part of a broader wave of features coming to Microsoft 365. We’re pushing to make the software more expressive and inclusive. There’s a newly designed font picker experience, along with new themes, colours, and backgrounds,” it says.

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