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Font rendering really poor

    Question

  • I am working on a Xaml/C++ Metro Style app and find the font rendering very bad. With bad, I mean the blurry/aliased/pixelated text rendering for medium/smaller fonts.

    On iOS, you get a very smooth rendering which looks like "printed" text (anti-alias is similar as in Photoshop which I really like). I don't understand if nobody on the Windows Team sees this problem or they simply don't care. For me the visual representation is really important because it makes my app look unpolished.

    Will there be any changes in the Consumer Preview that will address this issues?

    Monday, February 20, 2012 12:28 PM

Answers

  • Now that the Consumer preview is out, I should add that the rendering is different from the Developer Preview. The Consumer Preview uses subpixel positioned grayscale, rather than subpixel positioned ClearType. This change affects the Metro UI, Metro style apps including IE and desktop IE.

    Thanks, Si

    Lead PM for fonts, Windows Core Experience

    Thursday, March 01, 2012 4:59 PM

All replies

  • I'd recommend running both the Color Calibration and ClearType tuning wizards on your system as well as ensuring that your display is correctly set to the native resolution of the panel. It can make the world of difference to how text appears on the screen.

    If that doesn't work there was an opt-in for WPF Xaml that allowed GDI-style text positioning which can be sharper in some cases, not sure if that's available to Metro apps too.

    Monday, February 20, 2012 1:03 PM
  • Thanks for the response. I cannot run the Color Calibration on my machine because it will break the XAML editor in the developer preview version of Visual Studio.

    I did in my last installation of WDP but their was no improvement. The classic GDI rendering is a bit better but then the font is aligned to the pixel-grid - making all font animations "stutter".

    I don't think it is releated to hardware because FreeType (Linux) and CoreText (OSX) do a way better job at font rendering for me ( I can post screenshots if required).

    Why can't we have font-rendering as in Acrobat with the clear, smooth fonts :-( ?

    Monday, February 20, 2012 1:27 PM
  • Hi, Paul_X

    Which fonts are exhibiting the issue? Is this Segoe UI, another in-box font or a third party font? Do the fonts rendered differently in IE10? A screen grab may help, we usually think of blurry as being the opposite of aliased/pixelated.

    Thanks, Si

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:06 AM
  • Hi Si,

    sorry for the late response.

    I made some comparisons which might help you to identify the issue.

    1) In all Metro-Style Apps, I can see that they use grayscale smoothing - no subpixel rendering. Here are two screenshots (100% zoom) from two default applications (one is C#/XAML and the other is C++/Direct2D:

    Example 1 (Metro-Style C#/XAML): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/58053593/metro_1.png

    As you can see, the white font with the blue background looks pixelated. I guess not enough smoothing?

    Example 2 (C++/Direct2D): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/58053593/metro_2.png

    The sample text, although quite big looks very poor.

    When comparing with Desktop IE 10, I noticed that the font looks much better than in Metro-Style apps. If I magnify the font, I can see that it uses subpixel-rendering (colored edges). However, it still does not compare to some other font renders (e.g. Acrobat or Safari).

    Example 3 (some tech-site): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/58053593/IE10-SF5_1.png

    On the left, IE 10 and on the right Safari 5 with "Medium" smoothing. As you can see, the font is too bold and the edges still too hard.

    Example 4 (this site): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/58053593/IE10-SF5_2.png

    - In the heading, somehow IE does not render the "o" as a circle. Also, the font looks thinner than expected.

    - Smaller text is also rendered better in Safari because from further looking back, the Glyphs look more like the font.

    - The "Reply" and "Quote" look very poorly rendered in IE.

    Some additional notes that might help:

    - Clear-Type tuner does not seem to have an effect on Metro-Style apps or the font rendering in IE (DirectWrite bypasses the settings?).

    - I have a Intel HD Graphichs Card (Arrandale) with latest drivers from Jan. 2012

    - Screen is set to maximum resolution.

    - Screen is calibrated

    If I can help with any further information, let me know.

    Many thanks for looking.

    Paul

    Thursday, February 23, 2012 6:49 PM
  • Hi Paul,

    In example 1 the reversed out (white on blue) Segoe UI looks fine on my monitor, not pixelated at all. Under zoom the pixel pattern seem consistent with the black on white text (looking at the word "Search" for example) - the same number of "gray levels" appear to be used.

    In example 2 I agree the type rendering is not great, but that seems to be down to the quality of the hinting in the (third party?) fonts chosen for this demo. The colors chosen are not great either, neither was the decision to render type on a textured background. Real apps should render type for immersive reading on a solid (light or dark) background.

    Regarding the other comparisons you are of course entitled to a personal preference on rendering style. But I don't agree that the comparisons show the other browser's rendering as better - look at the lower case "e" in example 4.

    Thanks, Si

    Friday, February 24, 2012 4:00 AM
  • Hi Si,

    just one followup question: How to I enable subpixel rendering in Metro-Style apps (with colored edges) because I mentioned that the IE 10 rendering is much better than the Metro-Style versions (which seem only to use grayscale smoothing)? Because for tablets I don't see a big issue because they will have a higher pixel density than a regular screen (~ 100 dpi).

    Thanks.

    Paul

    Friday, February 24, 2012 12:45 PM
  • IE 9 and IE 10 (in the Windows 8 developer preview) use a rendering technique known as subpixel positioned ClearType, one of the rendering modes supported by DirectWrite. This might help you track down if there's a way to force this mode on within your app. I don't know how you'd do this or even if its possible.

    Cheers, Si

    Saturday, February 25, 2012 6:02 AM
  • Now that the Consumer preview is out, I should add that the rendering is different from the Developer Preview. The Consumer Preview uses subpixel positioned grayscale, rather than subpixel positioned ClearType. This change affects the Metro UI, Metro style apps including IE and desktop IE.

    Thanks, Si

    Lead PM for fonts, Windows Core Experience

    Thursday, March 01, 2012 4:59 PM
  • Can you guys change how fonts are rendered? I'm not asking a complete change, I ask for one simple change. Make it so fonts no longer how to conform to the font grid!!

    What I mean is that, especially for smaller fonts, as I type this, for example, I can see it. The lowercase "g" is being forced to conform to the font grid. What this means is that the bottom part is not rounded, it is squared off. Why is Microsoft continuing to go with this inferior method of displaying fonts? It makes absolutely no sense. It made sense back in the days when screens were 800 x 600, but now the average screen is 1920 x 1080. At least let the user choose! Come on guys, it's so simple to change it. I'm not asking much, and it will for sure make me want to actually purchase Windows 8. Yes, changing the way fonts are rendered is the single biggest thing that needs to be changed in Windows. Please. Make it more mac-like.

    Monday, April 30, 2012 3:03 AM
  • Windows DWrite applies sub-pixel positioning in the horizontal direction, which introduces more blur to the type rendering, which some people don't like. The advantage of this rendering style is that the inter-letter spacing is truer to the type designers intentions, making for better word shapes. Sub-pixel vertical positioning would add unacceptable levels of blur with no benefit, each line of text would have a different level of blur depending on the sub-pixel it were to fall on.

    Friday, May 04, 2012 11:36 PM
  • It's truel to the type designer's intentions to force fonts to conform to the font grid? I don't mean to sound rude, but I highly doubt type designers intend for some letters to look "blocky" at the outer edges for the sake of readability. Some fonts are just poorly-made, and as a result, are hard to read. Microsoft shouldn't alter it because of what they think typefaces should look like.

    But let's say you're correct, you had an excellent point about introducing "blur", which some people don't like. Well, some people don't like text to look like an eyesore, either. I love the way Mac OS X renders fonts. I love the way my Android phone displays fonts (yes, I'm fully aware that past 250 pixels per inch, font smoothing becomes virtually irrelevant). I saw a laptop with a 15 inch screen @ 1920 x 1200 and text on it looked GORGEOUS, it looked JUST as good as on a Mac with much worse pixel density. But that's MY opinion. What I'm trying to get at what's the problem with giving the user the option of changing how they want fonts to display? I play with ClearType Tuner dozens of times every day and CANNOT get fonts to look even half as good as on OS X.

    "Sub-pixel vertical positioning would add unacceptable levels of blur with no benefit, each line of text would have a different level of blur depending on the sub-pixel it were to fall on."

    Is that what I asked about, is that what makes fonts on OS X look great? If so, then why aren't there more people complaining about how Macs display text? Why do most designers choose Macs? They do it because it shows them text accurately.

    Another thing about the ClearType/GDI font rendering engine is font points are different; they are 72%(?) of what they would be when printed. On every other OS, fonts are 100% to scale, on Windows, 72%. This dates back to, again, back in the days when VGA screens were all the rage. 

    I don't mean to sound like a brat, you could say "Then just stay on OS X, we won't miss you." but I'll miss Windows! I love Windows, I just hate how fonts irritate my eyes on it. OS X is OK, but too limited. I believe I speak for most people who spend extended periods of time on a computer. The "nerds", the people who should have a voice. 

    Sorry to ramble, my request, is to simply give the user the choice; make the Microsoft way default, I don't care - as long as I have the choice to make it the way I want it to be. That's always been Windows' edge over OS X - more control, but this is one area where the user has little control save for an over-simplified tuner which hardly works. Like I said, I'd buy Windows 8 on launch day if that was changed. Thank you for reading this lengthy post.

    Monday, May 28, 2012 7:30 AM
  • Si Daniels, you really have to look into this problem. It is serious!

    The font rendering in all iterations of Windows 8, including RTM is truly dreadful.

    It is so blurry I cannot use it.  It is an awful user experience.

    As much as I want to use Windows 8 and Office 2013, I will have to stay with Windows 7 until:

    1.  Microsoft are prepared to stop this silly denial business and recognize there is a problem

    2.  Do something about it.

    I definitely will not be recommending Windows 8 to my organization (or anyone else) until the problem is fixed.

    If I rolled out Windows 8 looking this bad on user's monitors I'd probably be fired.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012 2:01 PM
  • Horrible Horrible Horrible! Still horrible in WIndows 8 and IE10 and Office 2013. At least Office 2010 still works. Have unloeaded 2013 Preview (as I did with WIndows 7 - I had just hoped they might have fixed it). And I am getting to like Opera. Why?
    Sunday, November 11, 2012 10:36 PM
  • Agreed. I just can't use IE10 nor Office 2013 at all because of this.

    Funny you should mention Opera. I have just started using Opera too.

    Monday, November 12, 2012 10:13 AM
  • Me too. I *would* like to use IE10 and Office 2013 because they feel fast and nice. Font rendering however is a no-go. Amazing how a big company can make things so awful. I tested Firefox, Chrome and Opera, and Firefox, although not the fastest, has the very best font rendering. Why doesn't Microsoft use their coding in IE10 and Office 2013? I am actually considering giving up on Windows and go for a Mac. My iPad has crystal clear text, damn it. And if the path for Microsoft is font rendering like in Office 2013, I am out of luck. For now I will stick with Office 2010, but for how long?
    Thursday, November 22, 2012 12:47 AM
  • Too bad. They totally ignored normal PC users on Windows 8. They ignore their stronger user base, because they think they can -O.K. 

    I completely disabled IE10 -there's no choice, unfortunately. It's shame 3rd party apps like Chrome being perfect, and IE10 so unusable. I don't care for Metro Interface/Apps, I don't use them, but IE10 on deskop? 


    Meanwhile, I checked in a store a new small laptop, and the problem wasn't so apparent. That might mean it's fully optimised for Tablets/new laptops, but I didn't do enough testing, I might be wrong. 

    • Edited by PC EliTiST Friday, November 23, 2012 11:24 PM
    Friday, November 23, 2012 11:13 PM
  • Even I tried several Windows 8 laptops at a Microsoft store, and I could definitely make out that the fonts on IE10 and metro UI apps are blurry. I am amazed that there is no solution for it yet even after a "shit it" product.

    Also that none of the Windows 8 reviews mentioned about the font fuzziness.

    Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:29 PM
  • On a 24 inch 1920 x 1200 monitor, the blurriness is so bad it makes Windows 8 unusable.

    I have gone back to Windows 7.

    Friday, November 30, 2012 11:46 AM
  • On a 24 inch 1920 x 1200 monitor, the blurriness is so bad it makes Windows 8 unusable.

    I have gone back to Windows 7.

    Guys please help, any update on this terrible issue? My eyes hurt. I can barely look at my monitor to see what i type. I have tried all kinds of adjustments, can make my eyes not hurt. What is going on here? I bought 2 win8pro dvds and seriously, i want my money back unless this is fixed. I cant use my PC, i can't work, it is a disaster. I am going back to win7 too until this is solved, but this does not make me feel any better. Does anyone know of any way to FORCE win8 display clear fonts like win7? 


    • Edited by geopan7 Sunday, December 09, 2012 6:44 PM
    Sunday, December 09, 2012 6:44 PM
  • yes. I do hope Microsoft addresses this issue. It really is irritating. especially the fact that you have to encounter this problem everytime you use a computer.
    Monday, December 10, 2012 4:31 PM
  • Hi all. Just a reminder that the UI Design for Windows Store apps forum is for discussion of designing your own Windows Store app. Discussion of general OS behavior is off topic and likely won't be seen by appropriate specialists.

    Please post consumer questions or concerns about base OS behavior to the Windows 8, IE or Office forums on http://answers.microsoft.com . IT Pro questions or concerns should go to the appropriate forums on http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-us/categories/ .

    I'm locking this thread since it is off-topic and unproductive for this forum. Unfortunately I don't have a good way to split out and forward the off-topic posts to appropriate forums, so you will need to repost them yourselves if you need help with this. In many cases I expect you will be able to get better results with appropriate tuning, but you should check in the right forums for details.

    --Rob

    Monday, December 10, 2012 10:18 PM
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