Users keep reporting blurry text in Windows 8 and 8.1

If you have Windows 8 or the preview version of Windows 8.1 installed on your PC and have noticed that the text is sometimes slightly blurry, you may not need a new pair of glasses. There have been a number of reports on Microsoft's support forums during the past several months of users claiming they have experienced blurry text and fonts while using Microsoft's latest operating system.

In fact, the report on the forums have been appearing since the launch of Windows 8 in late October and even before, when the Consumer Preview was released. Many of those separate message board strings have been collected by one user in another Microsoft support forum thread which now had over 240 posts. In short, many Windows 8 owners have experienced fuzzy text while using Internet Explorer 10, Office 2013, the fonts on the Start screen and other third-party applications.


Comparison of IE10 and Chrome on Windows 8

Some Microsoft MVPs have responded to the complaints with proposals intended to solve these problems in some message board threads, but apparently these workarounds have not fixed the issue for many of the people experiencing the fuzzy font problem. Here's a recent post on the thread, dated June 19, from a user named Chasanne:

I almost returned my new computer to Dell. With a 24 in. monitor, the fuzzy font problem is very noticible. Dell tech support updated my video card driver no avail. Then their tech fellow came to my house and changed the video card, again to no avail. He did notice the problem and told me I should switch to an Apple computer. The Dell tech people said they are going to report the problem to Microsoft, but I'm not optimistic. The press has reported that the sales of Dell computers are down significantly because of Win 8. I suspect that the fuzzy font problem is being kept quiet so as not to hurt sales further. So Microsoft has managed to delived (sic) low-def graphics in a high def world. Management has become profoundly unreponsive (sic) and will continue to pay the price.

Another post, this time written on July 8th, has a user named lolw8 talking about his experience with the Windows 8.1 public preview:

I've had this problem since Windows 8 beta and I figured the 8.1 preview would finally fix this issue! I was wrong. Still looks awful, even with the nvidia 8.1 beta drivers, tweaking cleartype, etc - it all looks horrible. I can't believe this is still not fixed, it's literally awful, especially in IE 10/11.

Neowin has emailed Microsoft to find out if the company will address the blurry font issue; this post will be updated if a response is received.

Thanks to James Presland for the tip!

Source: Microsoft Support | Image via Stefi S

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Does that registry tweak fix font smoothing, or eliminate it?

My problem, on 7 and 8, is pixellation. I don't want things to look like XP with no Cleartype. I want the look of Ubuntu with RGB subpixel rendering cranked up. That gives me sharp, clear tex
t in all apps. No blur, no fuzz, no pixelation, no artifacts, no shadows.

Why can't Windows do that?

The problem firstly is people seem to be inconsistently reporting the problem, to me this isn't something new in windows 8.

Windows 7 in its default configuration has blurry fonts, windows 8 has the same defaults so same problem, disabling cleartype in control panel does almost nothing, but adjusting in regedit a few values fixes it for the desktop and 99% of apps. localuser/controlpanel/desktop and then adjusting fontsmoothintype to 0 and fontsmoothinggamma to 0 as well as fontsmoothing to 0. After that's done both windows 7 and 8 have no blurriness on their normal text. Except on the taskbar and window borders. and of course IE9/10/11. IE9 has a dll wrapper someone made which fixes the problem for ie9 by making it act like firefox but no one made one for ie10/11.

Font rendering on my 24-inch IPS only sucks on Windows. It's an order of magnitude better on OS X or Ubuntu. Unless I disable subpixel rendering. So, I question the assertion that IPS screens "don't have 'em".

There's a good reason for ditching sub-pixel rendering; IPS panels don't have 'em. That's the point of the "IP" in "IPS". Font "smoothness" can only really be achieved with high DPI now and 1920x1080 is dreadful at 24" (ask any CAD guy and the monitor industry hasn't been their friend since they ditched 2048x1536 CRTs for low-res LCD).

This is why switching to Apple can work as they are one of the few vendors outside of Korea with a high DPI IPS-panel for sale (ie. Retina). Until the next 'new' standard for desktops is decided upon, font rendering is going to suck.

On my 1920x1200 24-inch, what I see isn't so much blurriness as it is thin spindly characters, as if they are render too sharply. The monitor sharpness setting is at 30. Going below that causes murkiness and distortion.

I also see gray artifacts inside loops. The edges of large bolded headline characters are quite visibly not smooth. Sometimes, gray filaments waft away from them.

Cleartype tuner displays no examples that are not ragged and jagged.

These defects are obvious in 7 and 8. They do not appear using OS X or Linux, so I can't blame the hardware.

Several comments here suggest buying a high DPI monitor. But, where? The standard desktop DPI is 96. Regardless of resolution, you can't find a desktop monitor with a DPI that is significantly higher than 96.

This is a symptom of Direct2D. Microsoft has been slowly moving to resolution-independent Direct2D text rendering and leaving GDI behind. Believe it or not, the perceived blurriness is intended.
It looks different, but most people (including me) get accustomed to it after a while and it's not longer distracting and actually looks *better* than old GDI rendered text. There's no "problem" here. It's just a change in type smoothing.

I've started to notice this happening to my Surface Pro that's extended on to a monitor. It's pretty annoying tbh, but all I do is disconnect my HDMI connection, and then re-connect it and it's fine for another day.

another "feature" to attract more older windows users perhaps? if they can backtrack on start menu, i guess they can backtrack on anything. lol.

I can confirm this to be true, but it seems to vary from screen to screen. The difference is almost negligible on my laptop's display, but on my 19", god help us.

I tried a number of recommended fixes to the Windows 8 blurry text issue on my new Asus notebook. The screen still gave me headaches after about a month of tweaks and hoping I would get used to it. Finally, I took a Saturday morning to set up Windows 7 as a dual boot option on startup. I get no headaches from this nice high-res screen in Windows 7, even using IE and Office 365. In fact, my new 15-inch notebook screen is a pleasure to use now. ... I'm keeping the Windows 8 that came pre-installed as a dual boot and I still check in on it every now and then (yes, the blurry text still gives me headaches). I figure someday Microsoft will fix the Windows 8 blurry text issue and I'll fully make the switch. Until then I'll be spending my time in Windows 7.

This was my big complaint when I was looking at computers to be honest. Not all are affected and I assumed it was because some had lower dpi screens, resulting in the blurry text (especially in the store). I may be wrong on the cause, but hope they do fix it.

DKAngel said,
it must be me but i cant see the difference in that image on my monitor, they both look identicle to me

I wear glasses and found it hard to see a difference at first (just as I did on my home computer) but it's definitely there... once I 'fix' it I can tell it's much better!

This isn't new to IE10 and Windows 8, it was like it in IE9 as well. From the start I disliked the rendering of fonts in IE9 and I still don't like it.

Could this just be a preference thing? Going by the screenshot in the article I'd have to say the Chrome text is horrible. It made my eyes water just looking at it for a few seconds.

I can confirm this horrible bug... I can't use office 2013 with windows 8 or ie10... Really bad to my eyes...

Reset your GPU setting to defaults. This is an issue with DirectUI and WPF when you configure your GPU setting to super high. I reported this problem years ago and I was told they wont fix and I should reset my gpu settings instead

I had an issue with a new Dell Windows 8 laptop and unreadable text. It turned out that some tricks used to make the display panel appear better than it is made photos more vibrant but made text unreadable.

if this is really the case and I do think that even with ClearType IE10 had some pretty bold and blurry fonts, then IE 11 Preview it's somewhere between IE10 and Chrome at the moment, but still quite bad.

People always seem to have a problem with this for some reason. They just need to get used to it. It's caused by rendering text using DirectWrite instead of GDI, which sometimes uses normal anti-aliasing instead of subpixel.

This problem has started with IE9 on Windows 7. Many users has reported bad font rendering which has nothing to do with ClearType in the rest of the OS, but M$ did not give a damn..

Your are right- this started in IE9, but it's *not* a problem. That's when they switched over to DirectWrite. As other applications begin rendering text using DW, you're going to see the same symptom. It's a change you're going to need to get accustomed to. Give it some time.

Are these people using lower resolutions on their screens, are there generic default graphics drivers installed, or is it cheap on-board graphics?
I've never noticed any fuzzy fonts. I change Chrome's font to Segoe UI
IE is still too slow, harder to protect, and doesn't let me do RSS feed dropdown folders.

No to all of that. Please don't try and be condescending because you don't have / can't notice the issue.

It also has nothing to do with Chrome. It effects IE10 / Office 2013 and the Metro UI on Windows 8.

Two machines in our house;

i5 3450
ATI 6850
8GB DDR3

Poor font rendering in IE10 and Metro. Office 2010 has perfect rendering. That's my wife's machine.

2600K
GTX 770
8Gb DDR3

Poor font rendering in Metro UI, IE10 and Office 2013.

Like I said earlier, I had a remote assistance session with an MS tecchie because I thought there would be some obscure registry setting that needed changing - all he did was go through the cleartype tuner and then said "Welp, I can't fix this, I'll escalate the ticket." And that was it. That was shortly after the release of Win8.

This is something I noticed the very first time I launched a preview version of Windows 8. I was hoping it would be fixed in the final version or subsequent updates but I see it's not happening.

It's not the case of "not everyone has the problem" - each and every Windows 8 installation has blurry fonts in Internet Explorer 10 and 11.

When I first saw the DirectWrite method of font smoothing I was very happy about it: it looks great in Firefox and it also looks beautiful in IE9/10 running under Windows 7 (I was at one time waiting for Chrome to implement this too, but they don't seem interested).

In Windows 8 the font smoothing in Internet Explorer was changed. It's not standard ClearType and it's not DirectWrite. It looks ugly. Smaller fonts become uneven and sometimes slightly pixelated, which is the absolute opposite of font smoothing. It is a big problem and I am happy it was noticed and posted as a news item.


PS: I don't see any problem with Office 2013 font rendering, it's nowhere near the IE on Win8 situation.

Wakers said,
The problem is with IE10 and Office 2013, it has nothing to do with Chrome.

Nor is it a problem. And it won't be changing. This is the newer, better way Windows will be rendering text from this point forward. You'll adapt to it.

I actually did a remote assistance session with an MS employee to try and fix this problem around Win 8 release. The first and only thing he did was run the cleartype tuner. When it didn't work, he said "I'm sorry, I'm unable to assist you with this problem, I will escalate the ticket." - and I never heard anything back after that.

I have the same problem, I thought was just cause I own an old HP laptop witch I upgraded to Win8. Besides the blurring now overheats and shuts down, something did not do before W8.
Is very annoying and very frustrating to read as characters will change out of the blue for some other letters not belonging in the page you are reading, when you scroll up and down characters change like a website counter kind of but instead of numbers letters keep changing.

No problem I can take it, when the HP dies, Windows will die for me also.

Have a Media Center PC and that PC since upgraded to W8 if I touch any function or feature in the Netflix player the screen becomes all horizontal color lines for like 10 seconds.

Very happy indeed with Windows, cant wait for the next version to come out to witness the same market share as WPhones. Microsoft is a disaster, starting from the TOP, that is what happens when you don't get rid of the problems like Steve Ballmer on time, nobody gives a plain Fu%$$# anymore

So because an old laptop, which is continuing to age, is not working as well as it used to, a new version of Windows it obviously to blame. That's like grandpa breaking a hip and blaming it on his new pants, because he never broke a hip in his forties when he wore his older pants.

korupt_one said,
The font rendering on my win8 and win8.1 are just fine, very good infact. I really don't think this is an MS issue.

Same for mine. But I spent weeks looking for a model that was unaffected by this. I can confirm that it does exist. Originally I thought it was lacking support for lower dpi screens, but now I'm unsure. However since the OS also has problems with higher dpi screens, and I've run Windows 8 on a number of machines here, I think this has a lot to do with it.

I've had this problem on my game machine with dual nVidia 580's. Changing the hardware antialiasing settings permanently fixed the problem for me. I researched it, found that it was fairly common, and that the solution was effective for nearly (if not all) cases.

Font rendering in Windows 8 is broken in both IE10 and Office 2013 - both are unusable for me because of this issue.

It's called DirectWrite, and it's actually much more accurate than ClearType. Also, ClearType only does horizontal anti-aliasing, whereas DirectWrite does both vertical and horizontal anti-aliasing. DirectWrite also does sub-pixel anti-aliasing, but is much less pronounced than with ClearType. DirectWrite may look 'blurry', but the same thing was said of ClearType many years ago, with XP I believe.

Research has shown that only a tiny minority of users find DirectWrite harder to read than ClearType or aliased text, the rest all find it easier to read. It makes this news item kind of moot, similar to "User report they don't like the speaker grille on the new iPhone". Well, it's there, and nothing's going to change, so you better get used to it. Chrome is also going to switch to DirectWrite.

I'm truly shocked this is even worthy of discussion or was this unknown...

Technically the problem is the monochromatic version of ClearType.

Because this is 'technically' part of ClearType, that is also where you go to adjust it.

On Windows 8, Start Screen, Type ClearType, Click on Settings...
There you will find "Adjust ClearType Text"

The final text sample you adjust is specifically for the newer version of ClearType, set it to what looks the least blurry for you.

On the screenshot above, Google Chrome is using the older GDI+ font rendering path and IE on the left is using the newer Direct2D font rendering path.


Microsoft always used hinting and other font rendering techniques to keep the final font lines to stay inside the pixel, so that anti-aliasing didn't let them 'bleed' out. This created crisper text; however, it was looked less like the actual font and less like the font printed at higher resolution.


Apple has ALWAYS used the blurry version of text anti-aliasing since OS X was released. This is why a lot of graphic designers would choose a Mac as the onscreen fonts would look more like the printed output, even if they were being drawn less accurately.

So buying a Mac would NOT solve this person's issue with how fonts are rendered.


Cleartype's time was coming to an end as NEW LCD technologies were being used that no longer had the traditional subpixel rendering. We see these displays in new Laptops now, and most of our phones have Pentile and other sub pixel arrangements to produce a pixel.

To support newer displays, Microsoft removed the sub pixel (color) aspect of ClearType, as it would no longer work properly on upcoming and newer displays.

The funny thing about this story is that people assume Windows is doing something 'wrong' or is even doing something different than other OSes.

Windows was the last OS to offer and keep pixel aligned font rendering. The only reason it is noticeable to people is that the older applications like Chrome are still using GDI+ font rendering that is still pixel aligned.

Rendering fonts the new way is necessary for resolution/display independence. If not, fonts would render like they did on XP and not scale properly to higher resolution displays.

OS X, iOS, Android, etc ALL use monochromatic font anti-aliasing.

The irony here is that Windows uses one of the more advanced versions of this technology, so that text is far 'crisper' on higher DPI displays. It still does a version of using font hinting to align to native pixels as they are available.

(WP using this new rendering has pretty text as even the 850x480 displays are a high enough DPI to take advantage of the new font rendering and text appears crisper than iOS or Android running at the same resolution.)

Changing cleartype doesn't fix the issue though. There are no combination of settings in cleartype that fix the broken font rendering.

I really wish people would stop telling us having the problem to use the tuner, IT DOES NOT HELP.

Grayscale antialiasing is not Cleartype! Going into cleartype settings is useless and will not affect grayscale antialiasing. Granted, with larger text or high DPI displays you don't need Cleartype, but Cleartype is there for 96DPI displays.

The problem is that on low DPI displays using small text, fonts look ugly with grayscale antialiasing. (Actually grayscale antialiasing always looks inferior to real sub-pixel antialiasing on low DPI displays).

I had a discussion about this 3 years ago when there a was problem enabling Cleartype on WPF Ribbon. It's dated 29th October 2010.
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/wpf/ar...or-ribbon-applications.aspx

What irritates me most is the inconsistency throughout the system. Take for example Outlook 2003. Most of it is rendered in Grayscale antialiasing, but the email list column is in Cleartype. The there's IE10/11. Most of it is in grayscale, then press Ctrl-B: the list of Favourites is in Cleartype but the buttons down under are in grayscale.

Call that inconsistency GALORE.

Wakers said,
Changing cleartype doesn't fix the issue though. There are no combination of settings in cleartype that fix the broken font rendering.

I really wish people would stop telling us having the problem to use the tuner, IT DOES NOT HELP.

The FINAL option in the WIndows 8 Cleartype adjustment is SPECIFICALLY for non-subpixel rendering, which is used in all WinRT Apps (Modern), IE10, and Office 2013.

Yes the first set of choices are for subpixel Cleartype with the final set of choices affecting the 'grayscale' anti-aliasing.

What is wrong with you people? Listen / read what people are saying;

THERE IS NO COMBINATION OF SETTINGS IN THE CLEAR TYPE TUNER THAT RESOLVE THIS ISSUE.

Yes, the last setting in the tuner adjusts the font in IE - BUT IT DOES NOT REMOVE THE BLUR OR JAGGEDNESS FROM THE FONTS IN IE / OFFICE 2013 NOR METRO.

Can you people get that through your thick skulls, please? I'm tired of repeating it.

C#Rocks said,
Grayscale antialiasing is not Cleartype! Going into cleartype settings is useless and will not affect grayscale antialiasing. Granted, with larger text or high DPI displays you don't need Cleartype, but Cleartype is there for 96DPI displays.

The problem is that on low DPI displays using small text, fonts look ugly with grayscale antialiasing. (Actually grayscale antialiasing always looks inferior to real sub-pixel antialiasing on low DPI displays).

I had a discussion about this 3 years ago when there a was problem enabling Cleartype on WPF Ribbon. It's dated 29th October 2010.
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/wpf/ar...or-ribbon-applications.aspx

What irritates me most is the inconsistency throughout the system. Take for example Outlook 2003. Most of it is rendered in Grayscale antialiasing, but the email list column is in Cleartype. The there's IE10/11. Most of it is in grayscale, then press Ctrl-B: the list of Favourites is in Cleartype but the buttons down under are in grayscale.

Call that inconsistency GALORE.

Cleartype was focused around 'subpixel' technologies; however, the newer 'grayscale' rendering in Windows 8 still is done under the Cleartype moniker and uses some of the technology learned from the newer vertical anti-aliasing layout of fonts that came from the Cleartype team.

You are correct that there are several font rendering technologies on the screen in Windows, there are at least 6 font rendering technologies I can think of off the top of my head.

You are also correct that this creates some inconsistency and is the primary problem as users think something is wrong when fonts look differently in different applications.

However, it would be ill advised for Microsoft to break older applications just to force consistency. It is better to have some 'variation' than to have applications no longer work or be forced to used a font rendered the developer did not intend.

As you should know from your dealings with WPF which was 'display independent', the font 'bleeding' was an issue. With Windows 7, Microsoft cleaned up DirectWrite and offered newer options for developers so they could force hinting and get fonts to look more like they were GDI rendered.

With Windows 8, Microsoft has had to backtrack and delay if not give up the subpixel rendering features as displays are changing, and there are many different types of subpixel layouts being used that no longer have the simple horizontal LCD subpixel layout. Pentile and Diamond Pentile and several others make what Cleartype was doing ineffective. It would take Microsoft redesigning Cleartype for every subpixel layout.

As display resolutions go up, and we have 120+ PPI displays, the Cleartype subpixel features are no longer visible to the human eye. (Text can only be so crisp when monochromatic anti-aliasing can provide print quality text.)

On our 1366x768 15.6" and 17" displays, it is still a noticeable difference, but on a 4-5" screen that has 200 PPI it is not something that subpixel rendering will change enough to be visible, and is not worth the performance cost, especially on ARM level devices.

At the end of this year alone 1920x1080 will be the common display resolution for notebooks, and even at 17" this is above the 120 ppi level that makes subpixel Cleartype unnecessary.

I would personally like to see Microsoft bring back Cleartype even if they do have to design around every display technology, but I do not expect this to happen.

Wakers said,
There are no combination of settings in cleartype that fix the broken font rendering.

Nothing is actually broken. All these tricks are performed as a trade off between colour / intensity and pixel resolution.

What's happened over the last few years is that requirements have changed.

The value of multichromatic AA (what you get in Windows 7) is already gone with some displays as they have high enough pixel density for it to have little or no effect.

The last section in ClearType may adjust grayscale, but it produces no obvious improvement here.

In fact, the text in *every* screen of Cleartype here is, itself, fuzzy/ragged/pixellated.

Mobius Enigma said,

To support newer displays, Microsoft removed the sub pixel (color) aspect of ClearType, as it would no longer work properly on upcoming and newer displays...

So people who are using LCD monitors they bought, say, last year, are out of luck?

I have a 24-inch 1920x1200 LCD with a default of 96dpi. Fonts look fine on it in OS X and Ubuntu. Am I supposed to go shopping for a 24-inch 1920x1200 LCD with a default of 200dpi to fix this on Windows?

Windows was the last OS to offer and keep pixel aligned font rendering.

What's the benefit of "pixel aligned font rendering" if the fonts look bad on screen? Is it to ensure screen fonts are identical to hard copy fonts? Who prints? I only print when I need a boarding pass for some airport that can't check me in with a phone.

[quote=DonC said,]

What's happened over the last few years is that requirements have changed.
/quote]

The fundamental requirement -- best rendering -- hasn't changed. Other people do this much better than Microsoft.

There are reasons, I know, for much of Windows poor performance here. Knowing that, however, doesn't make the letters on my screen look better.

Wakers said,
For my mind, when you change something for the worse you've broken it.

It can sometimes be hard to initially perceive something as an improvement when it is a change. Call this a growing pain- it's technically not a problem. It's a change for the better that takes some getting used to. Have patience. It took me weeks before IE9 text started looking "smooth" rather than "blurry." Now when I see GDI text, it looks overly pixelated.

wagerrard said,

The fundamental requirement -- best rendering -- hasn't changed. Other people do this much better than Microsoft.

Seriously? The only other company that is even close to Microsoft on this is Apple. And if you mean Apple then you'll know that the system that Apple use is closer to the system you're arguing against.

I had the same issue, but only in 8.1. Dual monitor setup with a 24" external monitor and 15" laptop monitor, both 1080p displays.

With the default new dpi scaling enabled (one scaling level for all my displays), Windows attempts to keep the open app window the same physical size on the two displays, as I drag from one monitor to another, the app remains the same size despite moving from a 15" monitor to a 24" one. Some apps were blurry on the 15" display, but drag to the 24" and they were okay. Others were the opposite. Even the task manager suffered from this blurring.

I disabled the new dpi scaling in 8.1, problem solved. I hadn't seen this issue on 8.0 prior to this though.

Not 100% sure if its related or not, but I've a custom app using DirectWrite (and running on Win 8.1) for text, where the text is incredibly blurred.

I tried using Mactype to solve this, however because Metro UI and IE10 use a different rendering engine, Mactype can't alter the appearance of fonts in those programs.

If it did, you'd have to have one setting for IE10 / office 13 / Metro and one for everything else, which would be just as annoying.

Wakers said,
I tried using Mactype to solve this, however because Metro UI and IE10 use a different rendering engine, Mactype can't alter the appearance of fonts in those programs.

If it did, you'd have to have one setting for IE10 / office 13 / Metro and one for everything else, which would be just as annoying.


The app in question is a desktop app. I was also under the impression that IE and Metro and maybe the new office all used Direct2D/Write for drawing.

I can confirm that text looks somewhat blurry on IE10 and IE11 on Windows 8. It used to be same way on Windows 7 too.

The screenshots shown in this article really don't show how bad it is. Also, not everyone's affected by it, but a lot are including myself. Here are better examples of how bad it really is -

http://oi41.tinypic.com/4vsdgm.jpg
http://oi41.tinypic.com/2vcvk8w.jpg
http://oi39.tinypic.com/2jd5f6o.jpg

Also, the very large topic on Microsofts forum and the largest unanswered question with the most "me too" votes-

http://answers.microsoft.com/e...page=1&tm=1375496761047

lolneowin said,
The screenshots shown in this article really don't show how bad it is. Also, not everyone's affected by it, but a lot are including myself. Here are better examples of how bad it really is -

http://oi41.tinypic.com/4vsdgm.jpg
http://oi41.tinypic.com/2vcvk8w.jpg
http://oi39.tinypic.com/2jd5f6o.jpg

Also, the very large topic on Microsofts forum and the largest unanswered question with the most "me too" votes-

http://answers.microsoft.com/e...page=1&tm=1375496761047;;;

Is it just me, or are those screenshots just norma, I can't see any blur

Look in the Mail App, that shows it best. If you can't see it in there, you probably need to get your eyes checked.

Wakers said,
Look in the Mail App, that shows it best. If you can't see it in there, you probably need to get your eyes checked.

I don't see any blurring at all. The Mail App looks normal.

If you're sitting at a significant distance from your monitor, you might not notice it. Also, depending on your resolution, the images might be downscaled by your browser to fit in the window. Downscaling images tends to make them look more sharp/crisp. Trying observing it up close and clicking on the image to view it at it's original size.

Those images reflect what I see here, especially the third one. (Windows 8, 24-inch 1920x1200 Dell U2410, Nvidia 550ti w/default settings)

Large black headline characters in IE are especially troublesome, with what ought to be smooth straight edges of letters like 'B', 'D', etc., obviously pixellated at normal desktop viewing distance. Curves and loops in letters like "R" are step laddered.

It is of no interest to me if this is the result of a bug or the result of a deliberate design decision. Nor is it of interest to me that "someday soon" we're all supposed to be using 7-inch 200dpi tablets. Ditto the argument that the characters are rendered correctly (whatever that means) so just get used to the fact that they look bad.

Ubuntu's font rendering on this hardware is pretty good. Why can't Windows be as good?


This is a known issue for 6 months... aka feature not a bug. (some feature...). They overhauled ClearType for Modern apps, for IE10/11, and Office 2013. These DO NOT use the normal color ClearType you find in non-Modern programs, and all over in Vista/7. These use a new grayscale subpixel font rendering, optimal for, you guessed it, tablets. Color-subpixeled ClearType does not work well on tablets. Yet another reason I'm sticking with Windows 7/Office 2010 for my 24" IPS display for the long haul... (XP version 2.0!). Until HiDPI displays for the desktop come out, anyway. The grayscale font rendering works well on HiDPI because there's much less noticeable aliasing.

http://answers.microsoft.com/e...b525-4e09-bdbc-de91114d975c

I wouldn't say it's optimized for tablets. It supports rendering on transparent backgrounds, which is done extensively due to the extensive use of composited layers in modern UI.

I have this problem too. Gladly, the only time I use Windows 8: To play games. Rest of the time, I'm using OS X on my laptop or Linux on my desktop.

Microsoft is really dropping the ball recently...

Saying that I never had experienced this on Windows 8 since the beta previews doesn't contribute to the topic, but I don't see anything on that screenshot that makes it look blurry. They are different, though.

The Metro/Modern UI interface an apps have a different kind of rendering. Sometimes I do see a little blur on the fonts, specially if they are small.

IE10, Chrome and other browsers render fonts differently. Chrome on Windows 8 still has that ugly rendering problem. It's so ugly, I can't understand how people can use it as it is right now. Google said it should be fixed in v28 but is still present.

Running IE10 and Chrome side by side on all my Windows 8 machines has the exact same effect seen in the screenshot. Font rendering in IE10 is just sub-par. It's also somewhat broken in explorer. I believe that this affects everyone, but that not everyone sees it.

On the contrary, I would say font rendering in IE is by far the best of any browser. I don't use IE except on rare occasions but its text is definitely clearer than Chrome's.

I definitely agree here with notchinese that IE has by far the best font rendering in browsers by only FF trailing behind it. Chrome is out of the league.

Well let's put this in objective unequivocal terms, since personal preferences vary. IE10 does grayscale subpixel rendering, while Chrome relies on RGB subpixel rendering. Anyone can easily verify this by taking a screenshot and zooming into it in paint.

It does look like Chrome and Firefox do not use exactly the same font rendering method or at least not the same settings, although both use RGB subpixel rendering. Chrome seems lighter; I can see why many would consider Firefox more readable.

According to Microsoft own ClearType documentation, "Traditional grayscaling assumes that each pixel has no internal structure, so it smooths the jagged edges but sacrifices edge sharpness. ClearType knows that LCDs are made up of colored sub-pixels. ClearType uses a model of the human visual system to choose the brightness values of the sub-pixels. With ClearType, letters on the computer screen appear smooth, not jagged, yet the edges remain sharp."

According to the article, the decision to use grayscale rendering seems based on performance rather than legibility considerations. All of this considered, it seems hard to argue that IE10 does rendering better, except perhaps for personal preference.

That said upon looking closely at screenshots of explorer, it looks like it's still using ClearType rendering, so the odd one here is really IE10, and perhaps Metro-land fonts, which I haven't looked into.

Edited by Andre S., Aug 3 2013, 3:41am :

I thought this was because Google Chrome does not support DPI scaling correctly on Windows, -at least not the last time I checked.

I've had this issue with Chrome (And some other programs that take over and disable Clear Type font smoothing that's native to the OS. Programs that force you to use an alternative rendering engine for the fonts). I have encountered this on multiple PCs running multiple versions of Windows, -only has this been an issue when I enable display scaling.

If the issue on the other hand is limited to Internet Explorer and programs that use the native Clear Type font smoothing, then you should try to run a Clear Type tuner.

Stop telling people to run the Cleartype Tuner. This is the most infuriating response possible. When some apps render correctly and others don't, it can clearly not be an issue with cleartype.

Cleartype does not resolve this problem.

If you're running with DPI scaling on (i.e. above 100%) then apps which aren't DPI-aware/resolution-independent will be treated to automatic bitmap scaling. This gets the size of UI elements to be correct, at the expense of image and text quality. On a very high red device, you can do 200% scaling which looks fine. But at 125% or 150%, legacy/lazy apps like Chrome will look pretty crummy, at least until Google gets with the program. How they ship that thing without it being DPI aware boggles my mind.

Wakers said,
Stop telling people to run the Cleartype Tuner. This is the most infuriating response possible. When some apps render correctly and others don't, it can clearly not be an issue with cleartype.

Cleartype does not resolve this problem.

1) Cleartype tuner CAN help as it has two different sets of calibration, the first sets are for subpixel Cleartype and the final set take the first settings and allows for additional adjustment on the non-subpixel ClearType rendering. (So the final set of choices is where you can dial up or down how 'crisp' the non-subpixel fonts look.)

2) It isn't about 'rendering properly' it is about using different rendering. In Windows there are at least six font rendering technologies that can be used by developers. Just because Google is using an older rendering engine, doesn't mean it is rendering properly, as it doesn't scale as accurately.


The funny this is that when Windows XP shipped with Cleartype, people complained, especially people without LCD monitors, even though it did look better on most CRT displays.

Now Microsoft has removed the 'color/subpixel' in their new rendering engine, and people are complaining that Cleartype is now gone, which is the same technology they complained about having on WindowsXP. (Especially when it would be forced on by applications.)

Cleartype can not help with this issue, that is the end of the matter. If you don't believe me, have a peruse through the thread linked in this damn article!

All cleartype does is very slightly change the hinting on the display of fonts - it does not fixed the jagged / blurry mess, it merely changes it slightly. There are no combination of settings in the tuner that fix this issue.

No, it's a bug. Greyscale AA is only used for Metro stuff (Since it's designed for a tablet where the orientation can change easily), desktop stuff should use sub-pixel AA unless the user disables it.

That some apps are using greyscale and others sub-pixel is a bug, basically.

Interesting to read all the speculation here. I never knew anything about a "blurry text bug" and I wouldn't assume anyone on Windows even knows what this is about (I sure don't).

What I do know is that we couldn't use traditional ClearType because it doesn't work on transparent layers. We didn't want text looking different some places versus others (speaking of the modern/Metro environment here), so the DWrite greyscale AA option was chosen to be used uniformly.

It's a good example of the sort of challenge faced in building an operating system. There are a lot of factors to consider, and a lot of investigation was done into a multitude of options. Obviously everyone would prefer to have it all, and I certainly prefer the full ClearType look, but I think the trade-off made was reasonable. And with devices marching aggressively toward higher DPI displays, the benefit of subpixel positioning fades. While I'm sure the Surface RT I'm writing this on would benefit, the text on my Pro is super crisp without it.

In the original IE screenshot there's no transparency involved, it's being rendered directly onto a white background, the poster also mentions that it's fine in Firefox (Which also uses DirectWrite), so either IE is screwing up on his system or his drivers are being blacklisted by Mozilla, causing it to fall back to GDI (like Chrome)

I know that Mozilla is doing sub-pixel AA for transparent surfaces by using component-alpha (So it'd work even in that case), but that shouldn't come into play here.

The_Decryptor said,
No, it's a bug. Greyscale AA is only used for Metro stuff (Since it's designed for a tablet where the orientation can change easily), desktop stuff should use sub-pixel AA unless the user disables it.

That some apps are using greyscale and others sub-pixel is a bug, basically.

It isn't about Desktop vs Modern, it is about the rendering pipeline.

IE10 and Office 2013, like the entire WinRT framework, use a new accelerated rendering model that leaves out Cleartype subpixel anti-aliasing.

This was done for performance, but also because of the changes in upcoming display technology.

Cleartype on Pentile or Diamond Pentile or other variations of higher DPI displays don't work together without a new set of subpixel rendering for each of these display types.

I personally would like to see Microsoft tackle this further and provide subpixel anti-aliasing Cleartype in the new engine, and also take on the new display technologies sub-pixel layouts.

However, this gets complicated rather fast with just the display technologies available now, and also will require the vertical and horizontal ClearType optimizations to render in any orientation.

The biggest problem is having the two different rendering technologies on the screen at once, as in the example above. If everything in the OS was rendering the fonts using the same way, the user would never notice. OS X is a prime example, as it uses the blurry anti-aliasing method and OS X users haven't complained yet.

No, IE and Office 2013 use DirectWrite, which does sub-pixel AA.

That's the whole point of this article, for some users they don't get sub-pixel AA when they should.

Edit: ha, I just checked, seems IE10 does actually disable sub-pixel AA. Other DirectWrite using apps like Firefox are unaffected.

Edited by The_Decryptor, Aug 3 2013, 11:14am :

The_Decryptor said,
In the original IE screenshot there's no transparency involved, it's being rendered directly onto a white background, the poster also mentions that it's fine in Firefox (Which also uses DirectWrite), so either IE is screwing up on his system or his drivers are being blacklisted by Mozilla, causing it to fall back to GDI (like Chrome)

I know that Mozilla is doing sub-pixel AA for transparent surfaces by using component-alpha (So it'd work even in that case), but that shouldn't come into play here.

I think you missed the part where I said we chose to use greyscale alpha *uniformly*, so that text didn't look different in one place versus the next. Also, you can't really tell by looking where the layers are, so you don't know what's on a transparent background and what isn't.

Mobius Enigma said,

It isn't about Desktop vs Modern, it is about the rendering pipeline.

IE10 and Office 2013, like the entire WinRT framework, use a new accelerated rendering model that leaves out Cleartype subpixel anti-aliasing.

This was done for performance, but also because of the changes in upcoming display technology.

Cleartype on Pentile or Diamond Pentile or other variations of higher DPI displays don't work together without a new set of subpixel rendering for each of these display types.

I personally would like to see Microsoft tackle this further and provide subpixel anti-aliasing Cleartype in the new engine, and also take on the new display technologies sub-pixel layouts.

However, this gets complicated rather fast with just the display technologies available now, and also will require the vertical and horizontal ClearType optimizations to render in any orientation.

The biggest problem is having the two different rendering technologies on the screen at once, as in the example above. If everything in the OS was rendering the fonts using the same way, the user would never notice. OS X is a prime example, as it uses the blurry anti-aliasing method and OS X users haven't complained yet.

I think what you mean is that both IE 10 and Office 2013 use DirectComposition. Part of (efficiently) creating a composited UI involves extensive use of transparent layers. This enables smooth animations, touch interactions / scrolling / zooming, and more. But it complicates certain things like sub-pixel AA.

The_Decryptor said,
No, IE and Office 2013 use DirectWrite, which does sub-pixel AA.

That's the whole point of this article, for some users they don't get sub-pixel AA when they should.

Edit: ha, I just checked, seems IE10 does actually disable sub-pixel AA. Other DirectWrite using apps like Firefox are unaffected.

DWrite supports several AA options. For Windows 8 modern UI, a specific DWrite configuration was chosen for the reasons I described above. I believe desktop IE and Office followed suit.

Never had this problem on any of my PC's nor have I noticed it in any of my virtual machines either. Maybe only certain gfx adapters experience this? My current laptops are both dual heads with an Intel 3000/4000 and NVidia cards in them. Neither one has this problem...?

dtourond said,
I've never had this problem before .. ever.

Go down to Best Buy, open the Store and look at the font in the upper left. You'll be hard pressed to find many that DON'T have this issue... I think it is more noticeable on lower end screens...

I haven't had this problem either. Could it be just an isolated problem that some peeps are having? Either way a problem is a problem that should be fixed.

It's not an isolated problem. MS simply decided to implement font rendering mainly for tablets/smartphones and give the PC user base the middle finger.

This font rendering method is suitable only for high PPI monitors. As you might know, there are no high PPI PC monitors. Very few extremely expensive and for medical purposes mostly. You know, Win 8 generally is leaning a bit more on the tablets' side.

Cleartype cannot do anything. Win 8 metro, Win 8 metro apps and Win 8 metro & desktop IE are affected. Fortunately desktop is still using the normal cleartype and this is the reason Firefox isn't affected.

P.S You all have it on normal PC monitors. A few apologists simply do not want to hurt their beloved company, others aren't even able to see it and others are talking about their smartphones while the problem cannot be seen easily there.

Edited by PC EliTiST, Aug 3 2013, 11:35am :

PC EliTiST said,
It's not an isolated problem. MS simply decided to implement font rendering mainly for tablets/smartphones and give the PC user base the middle finger.

This font rendering method is suitable only for high PPI monitors. As you might know, there are no high PPI PC monitors. Very few extremely expensive and for medical purposes mostly. You know, Win 8 generally is leaning a bit more on the tablets' side.

Cleartype cannot do anything. Win 8 metro, Win 8 metro apps and Win 8 metro & desktop IE are affected. Fortunately desktop is still using the normal cleartype and this is the reason Firefox isn't affected.

P.S You all have it on normal PC monitors. A few apologists simply do not want to hurt their beloved company, others aren't even able to see it and others are talking about their smartphones while the problem cannot be seen easily there.


First, let me say that I know this issue exists and have seen it...

However your P.S. Is just wrong. Not all computers or screens show this anywhere near as badly. Myself for instance, I spent weeks looking at computers to find one that didn't have this issue (Which I did in my Asus). Most computers (especially laptops - though not all) that I looked at had this issue. These people may just have better (higher dpi) screens.

It's important to also note that W8 also has display quirks on higher dpi screens (particularly on the desktop) that hopefully will also be fixed. This poor screen support is embarrassing for a company like Microsoft.

Weird, I have a 23" screen at 1980x1080, it is HD but in no means high PPI, especially compared to phones.
The fonts are crystal clear and smooth. No blurred effect anywhere oh and its on VGA, well DVI to VGA due to lazyness of getting a cable for it.

Shadowzz said,
Weird, I have a 23" screen at 1980x1080, it is HD but in no means high PPI, especially compared to phones.
The fonts are crystal clear and smooth. No blurred effect anywhere oh and its on VGA, well DVI to VGA due to lazyness of getting a cable for it.

Odd... I had assumed it was the dpi support, but perhaps it's some odd handling by the OS of certain screen specs...? I've even seen some that had visible lines going through the tiles...

It's a very real issue, but not existent on all machines, so hopefully it will be fixed soon. I can completely understand the frustration of people that are dealing with this. I actually had this on the first laptop I purchased with W8 (I returned it) and it gave me a headache...

On Surface (8.1), it lags a second to "underspend" an app and makes the entire screen blurry. Also waking Surface sometimes makes it stick at( User Account name)is Locked and the picture password screen sometimes sticks. On a side note Fresh Paint 8.1 is still not out for Surface RT? I was searching the store came across FreshPaint.RTM.Test in the search results with a new live tile. https://skydrive.live.com/redi...EF311EBAAC!3721&v=3

I noticed this on the preview, but you only see the low quality snapshot for an instant when switching apps, just until the app resumes and paints. I assumed this was an intentional optimization to reduce memory usage (not keeping full fidelity snapshots around for every app). I interested to see if it changes in the final build, or if they make it vary the behavior based on hardware. It's not really that big of a deal though.

whats the point of adding images to the posts if we cannot see them at the original size (open image in another tab or simply click it and it shows the original one)?

Clear type is clearly set in Chrome, you can see that. The difference is in IE10 where the font rendering is obviously bad.

Wakers said,
Clear type is clearly set in Chrome, you can see that. The difference is in IE10 where the font rendering is obviously bad.

Chrome/Webkit has its own (absolutely horrible) font rendering. It never was influenced by ClearType as far as I've seen. The IE in the screenshot shows great font-rendering on my screen though, a BGR Sony KDL-40HX800 TV. My guess is that PC's ClearType should be in RGB mode since BGR is rare for PC monitors.

So I guess the ClearType is tuned to BGR on that PC. I had a major issue with ClearType and multiple screens on Windows. It will only apply the proper ClearType depending on the screen that spawned the application and yet most applications got BGR ClearType applied on my secondary screen (cheapish last year Dell 22-inch model on DVI). Solution? I flipped the screen upside down, now it's a proper BGR screen xD

Um... Perhaps it's just me, but it seems like that could be fixed, by adjusting the ClearType Text, IE and Chrome render differently.

The fonts in the screenshot look fine on my screen.

x.iso said,
it's not about ClearType, that already is enabled. it's about GPU rendering. I mentioned it above.

Well, it is already enabled , yes, but you can adjust it via display properties.

yes, you can. but you can end up slightly improving text appearance in IE while messing it up everywhere else.

Hmm... I can't recall ever having this problem... From my 24" and 22" monitors at work or my 52" TV, everything has been fine. Any users from Neowin experience this?

Yea, font rendering in IE10 and Office 2013 is awful for me. I have one IPS panel and one regular TN, both at 1080p. It's bad on both, worse on the IPS presumably because the image output is higher quality.

I saw the "tip" that suggested changing cable from VGA, and it's just a laughable response - there seem to be a disconcerting number of people wanting to defend MS blindly over this because they're not affected or they have the good fortune to somehow not notice it.

I have an Nvidia 770 with latest drivers. Changing cleartype settings makes a difference, but it's just that - a difference. It's always blurry and just badly rendered.

The funny thing is, if you're in IE and you open up developer tools, press CTRL-B, the font rendering fixes itself. As soon as you exit developer tools it goes back to being awful.

Office 2013 is just unusable, which is annoying considering that I paid for it. Working on a document with a lot of text is headache inducing because the font rendering is all over the place. Excel is a nightmare, it's actually hard sometimes to tell the difference between a . and a , because they both look nearly identical.

See, the problem here is two fold;

1 - the picture is at 1440x900 and 2 - it appears to be zoomed in massively. Yea, IE10 looks fine for me too if I zoom in so I get about 10 words per screen. At actually usable zoom levels it looks awful.

Wakers said,
See, the problem here is two fold;

1 - the picture is at 1440x900 and 2 - it appears to be zoomed in massively. Yea, IE10 looks fine for me too if I zoom in so I get about 10 words per screen. At actually usable zoom levels it looks awful.

It looks crisp when I zoom out as well, just showing that it's crisp even when I zoom it in.

Wakers said,
I saw the "tip" that suggested changing cable from VGA, and it's just a laughable response - there seem to be a disconcerting number of people wanting to defend MS blindly over this because they're not affected or they have the good fortune to somehow not notice it.

...

Office 2013 is just unusable, which is annoying considering that I paid for it. Working on a document with a lot of text is headache inducing because the font rendering is all over the place. Excel is a nightmare, it's actually hard sometimes to tell the difference between a . and a , because they both look nearly identical.

I don't think this a case of people defending it simply because they don't notice - it's a case of it happens for some and doesn't for others. I'm looking at IE, Word 2013, and Excel 2013 right now and I don't see any of the issues that you describe (Window 8, GeForce GTX 680, Dell U2711 @ 2560x1440, no scaling). For example, you say that on yours it is hard to discern a comma versus a period. On mine it would be hard to confuse them as they are very, very clearly different.

If you are using a VGA cable then, yes, you should absolutely switch it for a DVI or DisplayPort immediately, as it will make a very big difference. I'm not sure why you find that tip laughable, as it is a simple matter of fact that VGA will not give you nearly the sharpness that DVI or DisplayPort will.

It's laughable because people seem unable to grasp that I'm using a multimonitor setup - I can't and am not using a VGA cable on either monitor!

That and using HDMI / display port will actually make this issue worse because of the improvements to sharpness you just mentioned!

The problem actually is so subtle on high PPI panels that most people don't notice the difference. I noticed the problem from the start (Windows 8 beta) and still can see it, but on my 15" fullHD screen it's much less noticeable.
Anyway, the problem seems to be in GPU font rendering, which is kinda tricky. You see, in this mode texts are in 3D space, so there is a depth now and it makes tuning the text sharpness harder. I worked in a company that delivered live tv realtime rendered graphics mostly for sports events, and I've seen a couple of 3D engines for this purpose, all of them have problems with crisp text rendering, just some does better job than another. I had to set up different text rendering types in different cases depending on how far the text was from the 'camera' or how large it is, on top of that there was at least 4 size specific font rendering modes and 4 smoothing modes as well. Seems like Windows team in MS never had to deal with such problems, and on Xbox fonts are crappy as well if you look up close.

Windows 7 also has this text "problem". It's not just down to Win 8/8.1. Look at IE9/10 on Win 7, it will look the same as the screenshot in this article. This is old news, everyone was the same with Win 7.

It's because IE and MS software in general use a different type on font anti-aliasing. It's heavier AA, so it makes text look slightly thicker or "blurry". If you compare Firefox, IE and Chrome, they ALL have different looking text because of different anti-aliasing methods. The anti-aliasing that MS use is a built-in Windows feature that Chome and FF do not take advantage of, as they still render text the old way like they did on Win XP.

MS did tests and found that people generally found their text anti-aliasing method to be easier to read. However on lower PPI screens it's not so great.

Maybe they have something there. I use HDMI on both screens. My monitor is an IPS panel, the 24" at least and my TV is an XBR 6 if that makes a diff. Either way, Perfectly clear for me. I hope you get your troubles resolved!