I see that most programmers use things like wgl and platform specific calls to use fonts in OpenGL. I went out and wrote up a simple font class that is platform independant, it uses textured quads for each letter, the font texture is still loaded as normal. Would this method be slower than the standard method or what?

Have a look at as nehe as 3 or 4 tutorials on fonts. (I think tutorial 11 - 14)