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Bill Hill - Why isn't ClearType on by default in Windows XP?

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Bill Hill, the head of the typography/advanced reading technology group here, talks about ClearType and why it doesn't work for everyone.

He also talks about why it's so important that you "tune" your ClearType with the ClearType tuner (you'll need Windows XP to use ClearType).

Visit the ClearType site for more information about ClearType, and how it makes it easier for most people to read text on the screen.

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  • Audio is very low and there's a buzz.
  • Jeremy WJeremy W that blogging guy
    I still wish that the website was available as a download (found the stand-alone tuner, but the comparative approach the website takes was much easier).
  • IanGIanG IanG
    I love ClearType, but there's one aspect of it that frustrates me, which is why I was interested to hear that you've been through many different versions of ClearType. I'm intrigued to know if you've fixed my pet peeve with it yet.

    ClearType as featured on the current version of XP does brilliantly for near-vertical features, but when it comes to near-horizontal features, it does a worse job than plain old 'font smoothing'. I understand that because of the way that ClearType works (and indeed the way that LCD panels are built) it's always going to do a better job of near-vertical stuff. But I don't see why it can't do at least as good a job on the near-horizontal features as normal anti-aliasing can achieve.

    In fact I wrote a little test to illustrate how it's possible to do this:

     http://www.interact-sw.co.uk/iangblog/2004/03/10/iantype

    (I'm not doing a great job on the colour filtering in this example, but it does illustrate what I mean about near-vertical features.) I'd be interested to know if anything like this might be coming to Longhorn. And if not, I'm interested to know if you've considered it, and came up against reasons why you just can't do this.
  • IanG wrote:

    In fact I wrote a little test to illustrate how it's possible to do this:

     http://www.interact-sw.co.uk/iangblog/2004/03/10/iantype


    That test looks fantastic, with refinement and a little correction to the colour fringes this would actually be better than ClearType. Bill does mention that the version of ClearType that will be in Longhorn is going to be a lot better than the one that was bolted on to XP, so maybe the techniques you describe here are being implemented.

    What is remarkable is that your method looks good not only on LCDs but on CRTs. However, I'm dubious of it's credibility at small type size. Where ClearType wins (for me) is the ability to render 8 or 9 point type without the blurriness or font weight artifacts exhibited by normal antialiasing. If you post an example of "IanType" with a 9pt type size in Tahoma, that would be very interesting to see.
  • on a 19 inch monitor at 1600x1200 cleartype is essential...
  • Yeah, I was one of those ones that posted on Scoble's site about how I don't like ClearType.  My LCDs are at native resolution, but I just can't deal with any color wackiness.  In fact, I bought my LCD just because the previous monitor I had was starting to crap out on me, so there were hardly-noticable shadows and whatnot.

    My hope is that HD displays will be common enough that it won't matter much anymore, because there'll be so many more DPI that more traditional methods will produce results just as good and without the color blur.

    But as I've said before, if you want to change something major like this, you really should just force it.  People adapt.

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