* The highlighted fonts are the system defaults:
***"Proportional" vs. "monospaced" refers only to non-Chinese characters. More about this below.
† Apparently what Microsoft means when they say these fonts are "supported" by the China/Singapore IME is not full support but display support. Even if you set that IME to Traditional character mode, if you try to type in these fonts you'll be bumped back into the default font (usually SimSun). So, you can really only select these fonts after you've typed the characters by going back to highlight them and choosing the font you want.
Two more tips for you: in many applications you can make other "PRC" fonts your default font instead of SimSun, but you cannot do that with these Traditional fonts. Also, when using these fonts with the China/Singapore IME, if you copy your text into other applications or send to other people there may be some problems so please experiment a little first before relying on them.
In your font menu you should also find Chinese minority language fonts for Yi (Yi Baiti), Tibetan (Microsoft Himalaya), Uighur (Microsoft Uighur) and Mongolian (Mongolian Baiti). I am not planning to cover these in detail here.
Default Chinese Fonts
When you select a Chinese input method and start typing, Windows 7's default fonts will be Songti: SimSum for Simplified characters and PMingLiU for Traditional. These are also the standard Chinese system fonts for filenames, menus and other UI text.
Song is the standard Chinese printing typeface, named after the Song dynasty when it may have originated. The names of these particular fonts are confusing because two different vendors developed the Simplified and Traditional fonts for Microsoft. "Xin"/"New" is proportional in one set but monospaced in the other.
Proportional vs. Monospaced?
The default fonts, SimSun and PMingLiU, are called "proportional" only because of the non-Chinese glyphs contained in each font, like Latin letters and Japanese kana.
Times and Arial are proportional English fonts you may be familiar with. A monospaced, or non-proportional font, would be old versions of Courier, in which every letter and space take up the same amount of space from side-to-side just like the output of a typewriter. (Remember those things?)
So What's New Here?
Two new Chinese fonts were introduced with Vista, "Microsoft JhengHei" and "Microsoft YaHei", developed by Hong Kong's Dynacomware and the PRC's Founder respectively. These take advantage of the latest ClearType display technology. Although the low-resolution reproductions above may not do them justice, they both look great on paper. The other fonts, even if they are new to Vista, have been available separately in one form or another for quite some time. Some are TrueType; most are bitmapped.
There are many free and commercial third-party fonts you can add to your system. Click here for my survey of more Chinese fonts.
If you are working in education, I highly recommend the Dynafont TrueType 28 package described on my survey page. I own it because it includes Pinyin and Zhuyin ruby fonts. On my Zhuyin setup page I offer examples of those DynaComWare Pinyin and Zhuyin ruby fonts.
If you just want to display Pinyin with tone marks I have a free MS Word Pinyin macro for you. The macro page also explains which English fonts contain letters with Pinyin diacritics we need. See also my 3rd-party Chinese applications page with links to cool stuff like free Pinyin-with-tone-marks IMEs and more.
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