Microsoft has announced the next default font for its productivity applications, such as Word and Outlook, after conducting tests on five candidates introduced in 2021. Previously known as Bierstadt, the font is now being renamed Aptos.
This change represents a subtle refinement for some of the world’s most popular software. Microsoft takes such steps seriously, as its Office products generate nearly 24% of its revenue. With Microsoft 365 subscriptions up for renewal, having a fresh appearance for the core applications can provide a stronger case for users to continue their subscriptions and potentially spend more.
Si Daniels, principal program manager for Office design at Microsoft, stated in a blog post that Aptos will gradually become the default font for Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel, reaching millions of users in the coming months. However, Aptos will still be listed under the previous name, Bierstadt, for users who are accustomed to it. Users will also have the option to choose any other font as the default, including older standards like Times New Roman, Arial, or even the long-standing default, Calibri, which has been in use since 2007.
The selection process for the new font began in 2019 when font designer Steve Matteson, known for his work with Microsoft, developed a grotesque sans-serif font. Matteson’s proposal was among several presented to Microsoft without revealing the contributors’ names. The font initially named Grotesque No. 2 was chosen by Microsoft, given the codename Koyuk, and later renamed Bierstadt after a mountain in Colorado. However, due to some criticism of the name, Microsoft decided to rename it Aptos, inspired by an unincorporated town in Santa Cruz County, California.
Matteson also created a serif version and a monospace version of the font, suitable for coding purposes. He collaborated with Microsoft to ensure the font works well in various scenarios, such as avoiding number overflow in Excel cells when converting from Calibri to Aptos.
Matteson holds a deep respect for Calibri and its creator, Lucas de Groot, acknowledging that there was nothing inherently wrong with Calibri. However, he understands Microsoft’s desire for change and appreciates the opportunity to contribute to the new default font.