FrontPage as a code text editor and file manager is plenty good enough for what I need. For WYSIWYG, all I need is an interface where I can type text without having to type <p> all the time. For table code and anything else, I use code view, but typing HTML tags for lists, list items, etc. is just begging for RSI.
It's really the webbots, the FrontPage Extensions, and the other automated things associated with FrontPage that Microsoft was abandoning when it discontinued FP. If you only use it as a text editor and file manager, it's just fine.
People tend to think of FrontPage as some sort of non-HTML "weirdo" editor. I even get visitors to my site looking for how to "convert a FrontPage website to HTML", which makes me believe that a lot of people think that a site created with FP is not fundamentally HTML.
It's true that anyone who incorporated the many available webbots into their FP site has a big conversion project if they want to go to another editor, but if you stay away from all that stuff, you can create a completely valid and standards compliant site with FP, just as you can with Notepad.
That is, as you know, because of the way it is rendered. Different encodings render differently. You can set different font families and set letter-spacings in CSS to confront those visual problems that you don't like.
Not sure whether this applies or not, though... I was talking about FrontPage code view, not page preview or rendering in a browser. The charset actually affects how FP renders the raw HTML in code view. I don't think I'd be able to fix that with CSS. There are a few code view settings, though, for how code is displayed, font-size, etc. that might be able to fix the code view rendering.
That's a good idea! UTF-8 is required by XML parsers to be supported. I don't know if you know XML but at some point you may want to learn XML and UTF-8 and UTF-16 are required by the XML parsers so you won't have to change your pages that much.
I validated all my pages to HTML 4.01 Transitional. I don't see any need for XHTML or XML. For some reason that I don't recall (maybe ad code), I decided at one point that my pages could never validate as XHTML.