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selawik

“Selawik” is a new Microsoft font. But it’s actually more intriguing than that.

If you’re just tuning in: Last week, we noticed that Microsoft had applied to register the trademark, “Selawik.” The company wouldn’t say what it was about.

We posted a story about this mystery: What could it be? The code name for a top-secret gadget? The Next Big Thing from Redmond?

No, it’s an open-source font — described in its new GitHub repository as “a fallback to Segoe UI.” We were alerted to the project by someone inside the company over the weekend, and David Storey, a PM on the Internet Explorer and Project Spartan platform team, also noted the new project on Twitter. (Thanks to Mary Jo Foley for pointing this out.)

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This is notable in part because Segoe UI is used extensively in Windows 8. Given the timing, the Selawik trademark filing could be related to the upcoming Windows 10 release. The base Segoe font is also used in the new Microsoft logo.

MSFT_logo_rgb_C-Gray

So this fundamental Microsoft font now has an open-source alternative, in Selawik.

Why did Microsoft decide to create, open-source and trademark this font? One of the company’s top engineers recently acknowledged that an open-source Windows is “definitely possible.” It’s not clear if Selawik is related, and it’s probably a stretch to connect these two things, but it is part of an ongoing movement inside the company to open-source its technologies.

We’re checking with Microsoft to find out more. In the meantime, consider this mystery partially solved.

Update: See the comment by Brandon Paddock below, explaining the connection to WinJS, Microsoft’s cross-platform JavaScript and CSS framework.

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