In an exciting announcement for typophiles, Microsoft has revealed a new default font for its users: Aptos. Taking over the reigns from the widely-used Calibri, this novel typeface has been crafted meticulously by Steve Matteson, one of the world’s leading type designers. Aptos is a modern successor to the beloved Calibri, which has been the default font and central figure of office communications for the last 15 years.

In the quest to replace Calibri, Microsoft commissioned five new fonts: Bierstadt, Grandview, Seaford, Skeena, and Tenorite. Following an extensive period of user feedback and practical application, the most resonant and popular choice was Bierstadt, which was subsequently renamed to Aptos.

A Typeface that Embodies the Human Experience

The creation of Aptos was inspired by Matteson’s favorite unincorporated town in Santa Cruz, California. The font’s versatility is seen as a reflection of the diverse landscapes of Aptos – from its foggy beaches to its majestic redwood trees and mountains. This versatile, outdoor-inspired design process included a critical phase of hand-drawing letters, an integral part of Matteson’s creative journey.

Aptos has been designed with a humanist touch, aimed at inducing trust and making reading more engaging. It is characterized by a universal appeal, embodying the friendly tone of the late NPR newscaster Carl Kasell and the astute charm of The Late Show host Stephen Colbert. Matteson has deliberately injected a sense of humanity into Aptos, adding a touch of swing to the ‘R’ and a double-stacked ‘g’, to ensure the font feels less mechanical and more relatable.

A Blend of Functionality and Aesthetics

Mirroring the mid-20th-century Swiss typography, Aptos is a sans serif font, known for its simplicity, readability, and even strokes. The typeface, which is made up of varying geometric shapes, is bold, well-defined, and directive, yet restrained. Subtle circular squares within the letters’ contours enhance legibility, especially at smaller sizes.

The typeface also introduces different font weights to guide the reader’s attention and set modes. Now, the lowercase ‘l’ boasts a distinctive tail, separating it from the capital ‘I’. The heads of ‘i’s and ‘j’s are circular dots, moving away from the traditional grotesque squares, while the number ‘6’ is single-stroked and ‘8’ is composed of two piled ellipticals.

Aptos is not overtly neutral but has an understated personality with a touch of warmth. This human touch comes from Matteson’s ethos, which prefers the comforting sound of a human voice over a GPS system’s mechanical instructions.

Looking Forward

The introduction of Aptos marks the start of its reign across Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel for hundreds of millions of users. It will gradually roll out over the next few months to become the default font for all Microsoft 365 customers.

Microsoft assures that the other font contenders – Grandview, Seaford, Skeena, and Tenorite – will remain available for use. For those not ready to accept the new name, Aptos will still be listed under Bierstadt in the font drop-down picker.

In line with this significant change, Microsoft is also working on a plethora of new features to make Microsoft 365 more expressive and inclusive. This includes a redesigned font picker experience, new themes, colors, and backgrounds, which reflects their commitment to ensuring the software is a powerful tool in the hands of its users.

As Microsoft drafts this new chapter, it eagerly awaits user feedback on the fresh and adaptable typeface, Aptos. The tech giant is certainly not ready to ‘draw a line’ under its innovations and is ‘justified’ in its excitement about the added clarity and dimension this versatile font will bring to the user experience.