Saturday, April 13, 2024

Microsoft is fixing a long-standing Chrome text issue in Windows 10 and Windows 11

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Microsoft — yes, Microsoft — is set to address an issue that has plagued the look of text in Chrome running on Windows 10 and Windows 11. While this is not a problem that affects everyone, there are large numbers of people who have long-complained about strange-looking fonts in Google’s web browser.

The font troubles stem from a font rending incompatibility which Microsoft is finally getting round to fixing. The ClearType Tuner of Windows is ignored by Chrome, but Microsoft’s tweaks mean that the browser rendering will be noticeably improved.

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If you’ve ever thought that text looks a little blurry or thin in Chrome, this is the very problem we’re talking about. Poor communication between Windows ClearType Text Tuner and Chrome’s own Skia render meant that both Microsoft and Google have been blamed for the issue, and it is the former that is getting things sorted out.

Online documentation spotted by Windows Latest shows that work has been ongoing “to support picking the contrast and gamma values from the Windows ClearType Text Tuner setting and applying them to Skia text rendering [which] ensures that users’ text rendering preferences are respected on Windows devices”.

The document says:

Historically, Chromium/Skia has used compile-time constants for text contrast and gamma, with different values hard-coded per platform. This means that these values are not adjustable by the end user.

Windows has a ClearType Text Tuner that guides the user through various contrast and gamma values for text rendering. Native applications generally automatically pick up these values if they use a DirectWrite based text stack.

Chromium uses Skia for text rendering, and thus was not picking up these user adjustments on Windows.

Lack of support for these adjustments in Chromium-based browsers has been a long-standing user complaint.

The fix involves taking the values for the ClearType Tuner on Windows and mapping them to Skia text rendering. It has been introduced to the latest Canary build of Chrome and will filter down to the main release build soon.

Image credit: Walter_Cicchetti / depositphotos

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