Font redistribution FAQ for Windows

Windows comes with a collection of fonts that are installed as a system-wide resource. Any application installed on your Windows computer can access these fonts, use them to display text-based content on screen, and send that text-based content to an output device, such as a printer attached to your computer.

Here are answers to common questions about using these fonts.

General questions

Where did the Windows fonts come from?

Some of the fonts supplied with Windows were created specifically for Microsoft by leading type designers and type design companies (known as font foundries). Other fonts were licensed to Microsoft from font foundries for inclusion with Windows.

Can I sell things I print from Windows, say a book, report, t-shirts or crafts that use fonts that come with Windows?

Unless you are using an application that is specifically licensed for home, student or non-commercial use, we do not restrict you from selling the things you print and make using the Windows-supplied fonts.

Can I make graphic files using the fonts, say an advertisement, meme or poster and share, sell or redistribute those graphic files?

We view creating graphic files as being essentially the same as printing from an output device.

Can I make a company logo using the fonts?

Unless you are using an application that is specifically licensed for home, student or non-commercial use, we do not restrict you from making logos using the Windows-supplied fonts.

I have a printer connected to my computer that supports fonts being download to it to speed up printing. Is that allowed?

Yes, we allow the temporary downloading of Windows-supplied fonts to a printer or output device to improve printing performance.

Do these general use guidelines apply to the symbol and emoji fonts supplied with Windows?

Yes, they apply to all the fonts installed with Windows as system wide-resources. Hidden fonts—those that don’t show up in font menus, which may be embedded in code—are not covered by this guide and should not be extracted and used.

Web

CSS lets a web page creator specify a list of fonts that the browser should use to render the text of a web site if they are available on the device on which the web browser is running. You are free to specify Windows supplied fonts in that “font stack.”
In fact, as a web page creator you don’t even need to be a Windows licensee to include a Windows font name in a CSS font stack, as the “use” of the font occurs on the Windows user’s web browser, not on your web server.

Web fonts are fonts that are hosted on a web server. You do not have rights to:

  • copy fonts from a Windows installation to a web server, a process known as web font “self-hosting”.
  • convert the font to the formats typically associated with web fonts, such as the WOFF or WOFF2 format.

Many Windows fonts are available for web through Monotype’s Fonts.com web font service, some are also available via Type Network’s WebType.com. Other Windows fonts may be available from their original creator.

Document embedding

Although the redistribution of fonts supplied with Windows is generally not allowed, “document font embedding” is a special case which is allowed in some circumstances.

What is document embedding?

Document font embedding is defined in the OpenType and TrueType font specifications – with a specific set of rules and restrictions.

When can I use document embedding

The brief answer:

If an application follows the rules and restrictions defined in the OpenType or TrueType specification, you can use it to embed Windows supplied fonts in any document file it creates. For example, Microsoft Word follows the rules and restrictions, so you can use Word to create documents (such as Word document files and PDFs) that include embedded fonts.

A more detailed explanation:

Font files contain flags that indicate if and how they can be embedded within a document file. Applications that support document font embedding look at these flags and determine if and how it may be embedded in a document file, and when they open a document containing embedded fonts they will also look at these flags to determine if and how a document can be viewed or edited.

There are several different flags and you can see them all defined in the OpenType and TrueType font specifications but there are only four in common use.

The most common setting for Microsoft supplied fonts is “editable embedding.” When this flag is set an authoring application may embed the font into a saved document file. When the document is opened on a machine that does not have the font installed the application may allow the document to be edited.

The most common setting for Microsoft third party fonts is “print and preview embedding.” When this flag is set an authoring application may embed the font into a saved document file. When the document is opened on a machine that does not have the font installed the application can use the font to display and print the content, but the document must be locked for editing.

Another, less common setting to be aware of is “installable embedding.” When this flag is set an authoring application may embed the font into a saved document file. When the document is opened on a machine that does not have the font installed the application may allow the document to be viewed printed and edited and may install the font for use on the computer outside of that document. In practice all of the applications we are aware of treat these fonts the same as those set to “editable embedding.”

The other setting to be aware of is the “restricted license”, also known as the “no embedding” setting. These fonts may not be embedded.

What if I embed “print and preview” fonts and “editable” fonts in the same document, can I only edit the parts that use the editable embedding fonts?

No, the specification requires that the whole document be locked for editing.

What if a font has more than one flag set?

The specification states that the least restrictive setting takes precedence.

You mention Word documents and PDFs output from Word but how about other applications and document formats like ePub?

If the applications follow the rules and restrictions documented in the OpenType and TrueType font specifications around document font embedding, you are allowed to use them to embed the Windows-supplied font. Please check the documentation associated with the application and document file format to confirm it is compliant with the OpenType or TrueType specs.

If I use software that follows the rules and I output document files that include embedded Windows fonts, are there any restrictions around redistributing the documents?

The applications you use to create the documents may limit commercial use, but in general, there are no special restrictions around the distribution of documents that only contains embedded Windows’ fonts (unless you are using an application that is specifically licensed for home, student or non-commercial use).

Can I embed the fonts into a game, application or device I’m developing based on the document font embedding permissions?

No, document font embedding permissions relate to embedding fonts in documents only, not embedding fonts in games, apps and devices.

If I convert the font into a bitmap font can I include that in my game or app?

No, converting Windows fonts to other formats does not change the rules around embedding or redistribution, and format conversion itself is not allowed. Many Microsoft supplied fonts are available for app and game licensing through the original font foundry or Monotype.

Can I include graphic files (eg. GIFs, PNGs or JPEGs) I create using the fonts in my game or apps, say for a logo or banner?

Yes, you can (provided you're using a product that is not specifically licensed for home, student or non-commercial use). The graphic file must be an image of a word, phrase or passage of text. Converting the font to a bitmap font (where each letter is treated individually) is not allowed.

Redistribution and extended rights

Apart from the document embedding rights described previously, you may not redistribute the Windows fonts. You may not copy them to other computers or servers, and you may not convert them to other formats, including bitmap formats, or modify them.

I like to tinker with fonts, what if I do this in the privacy of my own home and promise not to redistribute or embed the modified or converted fonts.

For some fonts included in Windows, which Microsoft licensed from font foundries, we don’t have end-user modification or conversion rights we can pass on to you. For Microsoft owned fonts, we don’t provide these rights.

Where can I obtain extended rights that allow me to do the things that are not allowed under the Windows license, such as ship the fonts with my app, game or device.

Check the font properties to find the owner or developer of the font in question. Many of the fonts owned by Microsoft can be licensed with extended rights from Monotype. For other fonts contact the foundry owner listed in the properties dialog.

How about Segoe UI? I love it and would like to include that in my non-Windows app or game. Is it available from Monotype?

No, as Segoe UI is both our user interface and corporate branding font, it is not available for use outside of Microsoft products on non-Windows platforms. However, we do have a Segoe-compatible open source font you can use: Selawik.

Downgrading to older fonts

We work hard to address bugs, add language support, and generally improve the fonts we ship with every release of Windows – ensuring backward compatibility and limiting content reflow is a top priority for us too. Occasionally, a bug fix may cause issues with an existing app or document. Unfortunately, there is no official process to downgrade to an older version of a Windows font. If you are experiencing issues, contact Microsoft support

Upgrading to new fonts

In most cases you will need to upgrade Windows to get the latest font updates. Occasionally, font updates will be available via the download center, most commonly to add currency symbols to common document and UI fonts.

Other fonts

This FAQ covers only the fonts Microsoft supplies with Windows as system wide resources: Microsoft Fonts list. For fonts obtained elsewhere or supplied with other apps, you will need to review the license agreements that accompany those applications.

Why must I dig up and read those agreements?

We're sorry, but Microsoft can’t provide guidance to fonts that we didn’t supply.

The rights we provide to you for Windows supplied fonts are considered quite broad, and it’s possible that other font licenses, even some free ones, may be more restrictive.

Some font foundries may give away “free” versions of fonts with limited licenses and make their money selling extended rights.

Some font licenses may restrict commercial use, require attribution, and restrict redistribution or commercial redistribution of documents that include embedded versions of the font.