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ClearType and Segoe UI - Why does Microsoft hate us?


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#1 WinClassicFan

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 11:35

Edit: new solution here: http://www.neowin.ne...ro-tahoma-font/

Well, I think it's fair to say that Microsoft has put those of us who aren't fans of ClearType in quite a situation, and the key to that is Segoe UI. ClearType really doesn't agree with my eyes, it's not an option for me to have it enabled - the only font that it actually makes look good is Segoe UI. So I turn it off and ironically now Segoe UI is the only font that looks absolutely horrible, because it was obviously created FOR ClearType - it's very, very rough without it and the standard Windows smoothing makes it look overly fuzzy and blurry.

So what options do I have? I can turn off all smoothing, but that just makes things worse - Segoe UI looks horrible, like a 1980s video game font, and now everything else that is bold or larger size looks rough and pixelated too. I love the XP-style smoothing that was carried over to Vista and 7, it works and makes things look good unlike ClearType which adds additional colors. So that's not an option either.

My only other option is to try to eliminate Segoe UI. I can change all the fonts to Tahoma 8pt from Personalize -> Window Color -> Advanced Appearance Settings. But that hardly changes half the text out there, Segoe UI is still everywhere. I can eliminate more of it by switching to the Classic theme, which I have, and that takes care of about 70% of it maybe but it's still in a LOT of places.

So my last resort is to go into the registry and replace all Segoe UI fonts with something else. Ideally that would be Tahoma 8pt, which is XP's and 7's Classic theme default font. However, the default system font is Segoe UI 9pt and while you can change the font itself, you cannot change the size. So, after doing that all Segoe UI becomes Tahoma 9pt, which is significantly larger than Tahoma 8pt and that not only looks bad but it messes up a lot of applications where the text cannot fit in well. So I end up changing it to MS Sans Serif which is a system font that does not have a 9pt size, so it defaults to 8pt and it looks somewhat normal. That's my only option really - all the other fonts look too ridiculous and/or are too big at 9pt.

So I'm thinking I finally solved this - it doesn't look nearly as well as Tahoma 8pt, but at this point I'm fine with that. The problem though is that MS Sans Serif is a .fon font so it's impervious to ALL smoothing - so whenever I'm online and there is something written in larger Segoe UI or wherever 9pt+ of it is present in the system, Windows defaults to MS Sans Serif the larger sizes of which look really bad un-smoothed. And even though it is 8pt, it's just not the intended system font for the OS, so every now and then there are irregularities. The Windows 7 calculator, for instance, does not agree with it, so I've been using Windows XP's calc.exe on Windows 7...

But at this point there is no other solution, so I'm just gonna live with it until one of two things happen - Microsoft gives us the option to change the system font to Tahoma 8pt or another font that does not look horrible without ClearType, which is about 1% likely to happen, or until the regular smoothing gets improved to be able to handle non-ClearTyped Segoe UI and make it look good. I think there's a high probability the latter will happen actually - I'm pretty sure I read something about a significant improvement in smoothing coming with the final version of .NET Framework 4.0 but we'll see...

Anyways, I don't know why I'm posting this, I know there isn't a solution other than the one I described. And I know from spending a few days googling this issue and trying to figure out a solution, that there are a lot of people in a similar situation. So why Microsoft would force this on us is beyond me. There are a ton of people out there who don't like ClearType, but like traditional smoothing, and there just isn't a viable option for us at this point. When Vista came out most people were like oh well, screw it I'll just stick with XP for now they'll fix it eventually. Now 7 is out, the pressure is there to move on, people are getting 4GB+ RAM, DirectX 11 is out and this issue is still there.

Blah, sorry for the long pointless post, I just spent a few days trying to come up with a solution and that's all I got, so... Just wanted to post something somewhere about it I guess.

Edited by Colin-uk, 09 April 2010 - 09:01.



#2 The_Decryptor

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 11:40

The XP style smoothing is ClearType. Unless you're referring to the greyscale anti-aliasing which dates back to NT4/Win95. The greyscale rendering won't be improving much, since if it was going it it would have happened sometime in the last decade or so.

Have you tried adjusting the ClearType settings? you shouldn't be seeing the colour fringes unless you're looking at the monitor on a bad angle or your eyesight is different to the majority of the population (which does happen)

#3 Salty Wagyu

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 12:25

I did exactly the same as you OP. Changed all my fonts to Tahoma in Appearances settings and the registry and turned cleartype off, which fixes about 90% of it. Action Center and similar windows are still in segoe/cleartype tho, but thankfully I don't look at those screens much. Just dealing with some cut-off text can be a bit annoying yes :(

#4 OP WinClassicFan

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 13:22

The XP style smoothing is ClearType. Unless you're referring to the greyscale anti-aliasing which dates back to NT4/Win95. The greyscale rendering won't be improving much, since if it was going it it would have happened sometime in the last decade or so.

Have you tried adjusting the ClearType settings? you shouldn't be seeing the colour fringes unless you're looking at the monitor on a bad angle or your eyesight is different to the majority of the population (which does happen)


Yes, I was referring to the gray-scale AA, the one you can uncheck from System -> Advanced -> Performance. What you're saying makes sense... I hope they come up with some sort of an alternative though. For instance, an option to enable ClearType ONLY on Segoe UI, but disable it on everything else, that would be perfect. Or offer Tahoma 8pt. as an alternative, which I think is much less likely.

I've tried adjusting it of course, and some combinations look much better than others, I can manage to make Segoe UI look great, but as soon as I open a web page everything else that ClearType touches is quite literally a pain to look at. :(


I did exactly the same as you OP. Changed all my fonts to Tahoma in Appearances settings and the registry and turned cleartype off, which fixes about 90% of it. Action Center and similar windows are still in segoe/cleartype tho, but thankfully I don't look at those screens much. Just dealing with some cut-off text can be a bit annoying yes :(


Yep... I might switch to Tahoma as well. Pt. 9 looks enormous, but it's better to deal with that than large non-smoothed pixelated MS Sans Serif .fon from the days of Windows 3.1... So many people have done this now, I can't believe we have to be dealing with this crap...

Here's another guy who asked Microsoft the exact same question:

http://social.techne...77-18ff1803c9ce

"I will report it to our feedback team"... Good luck with that.

Edited by WinClassicFan, 16 December 2009 - 13:34.


#5 null_

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 13:25

I agree with you on this, for some reason I just hate looking at Segoe UI compared to Tahoma 8pt - maybe I'm set in my ways, I don't know, but it annoys me that Microsoft have hard coded Segoe UI in so many places...

#6 The_Decryptor

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 14:01

Yes, I was referring to the gray-scale AA, the one you can uncheck from System -> Advanced -> Performance. What you're saying makes sense... I hope they come up with some sort of an alternative though. For instance, an option to enable ClearType ONLY on Segoe UI, but disable it on everything else, that would be perfect. Or offer Tahoma 8pt. as an alternative, which I think is much less likely.

I've tried adjusting it of course, and some combinations look much better than others, I can manage to make Segoe UI look great, but as soon as I open a web page everything else that ClearType touches is quite literally a pain to look at. :(
...

This issue can get muddled with some of the terms, for example ClearType is really just the sub-pixel anti-aliasing, it's applied equally to Segoe and Tahoma, the only difference in their rendering is due to hinting. And the hinting is pretty much the same between no AA, greyscale AA and sub-pixel AA.

The difference doesn't come from the hinting or the anti-aliasing used, it comes entirely because Segoe and Tahoma are 2 different fonts that looks different.

#7 MagicAndre1981

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 15:41

I love ClearType. I can't live without it.

#8 Xilo

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 15:48

What's wrong with cleartype?

#9 ViperAFK

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 15:54

I love cleartype and segue ui. I prefer it to the font rendering on any other OS. Its nice and smooth, yet still crisp and very readable. I certainly don't see any 'extra colors' when I use it, just black.

#10 zhangm

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 16:44

You might try going to a store and sampling ClearType rendering on other screens. It may be an issue with your hardware.

#11 tsupersonic

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 16:46

Segoe UI > Tahoma

#12 Fedr0

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 16:57

I love ClearType. I can't live without it.

First thing in XP I activated on every computer I put my hands on.

#13 Guest_xiphi_*

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 17:58

I have had no problems with ClearType and I actually like Segoe UI over Tahoma. Even Segoe UI looked good on an old Dell CRT with ClearType off.

#14 Co_Co

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 19:44

I swear almost every computer monitor I've used since 2002 looks terrible without cleartype.

#15 phatphunky

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 21:33

don't know if this is relevant but you can change the system font, just not the size.
I hate the Segoe font as well so I entered the following into my registry...

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Fonts]

"Segoe UI (TrueType)"=""
"Segoe UI Bold (TrueType)"=""
"Segoe UI Italic (TrueType)"=""
"Segoe UI Bold Italic (TrueType)"=""

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes]

"Segoe UI"="Tahoma"

I still wasn't happy with Tahoma at 9pt but found out there is a 'light' version of Segoe called
'Segoe UI Light" and have been happy ever since. Replace "Tahoma" with any font you like.