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Fonts in Old Versions of Windows

5 August 2018

You might install an old version of Windows (pre-3.1), open a text editor like Microsoft Word and wonder... where are all the fonts?

Fonts menu with no fonts listed.

There are typically only a few fonts available. Standard ones include Tms Rmn, Helv, and Courier. But the font list will be completely blank until a printer is installed.

As I have all these old environments in virtual machines, I didn't think I needed to install a printer. Thus this problem confused me for quite a while. To work around it, install a printer driver for something - laser printers tend to work well. No need to have the actual thing, obviously.

Fonts menu populated with common fonts.

I think this behaviour stems from an attempt to match the fonts in the program to the fonts available in the printer. I think later versions of Windows could convert the font text to a raster format and print the document as a giant bitmap.

If you can't do this, it is usually possible to type directly in the font chooser of most word processors. If so, you can enter its name directly and it'll work, as long as the font is installed.

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