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Windows 7: Can someone explain the difference between XP and 7 font rendering?

05 Aug 2015   #1
MaximRecoil

Windows 7 Ultimate N x64
 
 
Can someone explain the difference between XP and 7 font rendering?

I recently installed Windows 7 Ultimate N x64 on my XP machine (dual boot, so exact same hardware for both versions of Windows), and the way fonts are rendered in web browsers in Windows 7 is driving me nuts.

I have Windows font smoothing turned off in both XP and 7, because I hate the way it makes the default Windows dialog box and menu fonts look. Turning it on is not an option; it bothers my eyes.

In Windows XP things are perfect. Both Firefox and Chrome only apply a smoothing effect to certain fonts, i.e., the ones that need it. It doesn't do anything to ordinary fonts like you'd find on a Wikipedia, Craigslist, or Google search page. Internet Explorer 8 on the other hand (which I don't use), doesn't apply smoothing to any fonts at all though, so the ones that need it look ugly (random letters appear bold, and all of them are crude/jagged appearing).

Here is a screenshot from XP illustrating what I'm talking about. In that screenshot, I have two instances of Firefox open at the same time; one of them is on the Mozilla Support forum page (so far, they don't seem to know the answer to this), and the other is on a Wikipedia page. I also superimposed zoomed-in views of the text to show clearly that the font on the forum page is being smoothed/antialiased by Firefox (which is good, because it needs it), while the font on Wikipedia isn't being smoothed at all (which is also good, because it doesn't need it). This is perfect behavior.

In Windows 7, both Firefox and Chrome have the same font-rendering behavior that Internet Explorer 8 has in XP, i.e., they don't smooth any fonts at all. So while pages like Wikipedia, Craigslist, or Google look fine, pages with fonts like on the Mozilla Forum and plenty of other sites look horrible. Here is a screenshot showing what I mean (be sure to view the screenshot fullsize; if your image viewer is e.g., resizing it to fit your screen, it will somewhat hide the problem). Internet Explorer 11 on the other hand, simply applies a smoothing effect to all fonts, which is even worse behavior than not applying it to any fonts at all.

To sum up:

Quote:
Windows XP

Firefox & Chrome - only smooths fonts which need it (good)
Internet Explorer 8 - doesn't smooth any fonts (bad)

Windows 7

Firefox & Chrome - doesn't smooth any fonts (bad)
Internet Explorer 11 - smooths all fonts (worse)
This seems to be an underlying Windows issue, given that I'm using the same newest versions of Firefox and Chrome in both XP and 7, yet they deal with fonts differently. Is there any solution to this? I want the same perfect Firefox and Chrome font rendering in Windows 7 that they have in XP.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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05 Aug 2015   #2
MilesAhead

Windows 7 32 bit
 
 

I am on a Laptop with Windows 8.0. I cannot see the difference in your samples because the text is horrid on this 1360x768 flat screen. I did just try the anti-aliasing AddOn for Firefox. I did notice a difference on my browser by messing with the Gamma setting.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/fir...liasing-tuner/
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Aug 2015   #3
MaximRecoil

Windows 7 Ultimate N x64
 
 

The anti-aliasing addon doesn't have any effect for me, regardless of what settings I try.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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05 Aug 2015   #4
MilesAhead

Windows 7 32 bit
 
 

I had XP sp1 sp2 and Vista as well as W7. I didn't see any problems with fonts other than trying to tune Windows Clear Type fonts as well as I could. I had a Gateway VX900 monitor. When I switched to a Laptop and Windows 8.0 the text in browsers was so bad I could not read the words. Very fuzzy.

What helped me more than anything was adjusting my video especially the Gamma values.

For a long time I used ColorToggle to switch to a dark background with white text for the hardest to read web pages. Perhaps another poster has a suggestion?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Aug 2015   #5
ThrashZone

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit
 
 

Hi,
Without any system spec's of the machine I don't see how anyone can offer any suggestion ?
I personally haven't noticed any font degrading from x-p
Although that machine died long ago
Even a 6 y.o. machine cheap Acer desktop and another cheap Gateway M-series laptop renders fonts perfectly which came from Vista to 7
New build looks fantastic.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Aug 2015   #6
MaximRecoil

Windows 7 Ultimate N x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ThrashZone View Post
Hi,
Without any system spec's of the machine I don't see how anyone can offer any suggestion ?
The question is about Windows font rendering, XP vs. 7. I believe that anyone could duplicate this issue if they have access to both OSs (even via a virtual machine).

Quote:
I personally haven't noticed any font degrading from x-p
By default, "Smooth edges of screen fonts" in enabled in both XP and 7. If you never disabled them (as I always do), there won't be any difference.

Even if you don't have access to XP, if you use Firefox or Chrome you can still see what happens in Windows 7 when you disable "Smooth edges of screen fonts" (System Properties > Advanced tab > Performance Settings button > Visual Effects tab). After disabling it, there are numerous sites you can go to to see the crude/ugly font rendering which results, such as this one - https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/firefox

Keep in mind that in XP with "Smooth edges of screen fonts" disabled, Firefox and Chrome will apply smoothing to fonts which need it, while they don't apply any smoothing to normal fonts like Arial (like Wikipedia uses). This is perfect. However Windows 7 works under the hood seems to have broken this perfect behavior, i.e., the fonts that would have gotten smoothed in XP just get royally screwed up instead (random bold letters throughout the text, and general all around crudeness).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2015   #7
ThrashZone

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit
 
 

I use ie10 and Pale moon and can't tell any difference in font quality from either browser.
They all look good even the link you posted :/

Not sure why posting your system spec's is such a big deal and your monitor ?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2015   #8
MaximRecoil

Windows 7 Ultimate N x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ThrashZone View Post
I use ie10 and Pale moon and can't tell any difference in font quality from either browser.
They all look good even the link you posted :/

Not sure why posting your system spec's is such a big deal and your monitor ?
If the text in the screenshot I posted (http://i.imgur.com/vdburS9.png) looks good to you, then it would seem that something is preventing you from seeing it accurately.

How does this small cropped section of the screenshot look? http://i.imgur.com/Oo2T9LP.png

If that looks good, then here is an 8x zoom in which you can clearly see the random bold letters and sections of letters - http://i.imgur.com/thmObcO.png. Look at the letter "k" for example, half of it is bold and the other half isn't. All of the letter "l"s are bold, as are the "i"s and "t"s. Then look at the symmetry of the letters; the letter "o" for example. There are different pixel structures for 3 of the 4 corners, and only the lower left pixel structure is correct. This makes the letters look crude/jagged (and randomly bold) when viewed at normal size. The reason for this is, the font being used on the page, Open Sans, seems to require antialiasing in order to look good, and when you turn off Windows font smoothing in 7, Firefox and Chrome aren't able to antialias any fonts at all (even though they could in XP even with Windows font smoothing turned off).

Here is what that zoomed-in text would look like if it were in a normal font like Arial instead of Open Sans - http://i.imgur.com/DIWsfQl.png. Note that there are no random bold letters or parts of letters and they are all symmetrical where they are supposed to be. This allows it to look clean/good at normal size; no antialiasing needed.

I've confirmed that this is a Windows 7 issue, rather than being an issue related to my setup. I had a friend who uses Windows 7 turn off font smoothing, go to one of the bad font pages, and take a screenshot and send it to me. Her screenshot showed the same crude / randomly bold text that I see in Windows 7. Firefox and Chrome are supposed to antialias weird fonts like Open Sans, even with Windows font smoothing turned off, but Windows 7 apparently breaks this function which works perfectly in XP.

Quote:
Not sure why posting your system spec's is such a big deal and your monitor
I didn't say it was a big deal. It just sidetracks things because this has nothing to do with my setup. It has to do with Windows 7 breaking a Firefox and Chrome function that works perfectly in XP.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2015   #9
ThrashZone

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit
 
 

Here are 2 that I see in ie10 and Pale Moon,
I already use 125dpi and 150 zoom and never see an issue these are at 400%
Attachment 368251
Attachment 368252
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2015   #10
MaximRecoil

Windows 7 Ultimate N x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ThrashZone View Post
Here are 2 that I see in ie10 and Pale Moon,
I already use 125dpi and 150 zoom and never see an issue these are at 400%
The text in both of those screenshots is antialiased, but IE11 antialiases all text even if Windows "Smooth edges of screen fonts" is disabled (and I assume IE10 does the same). As for Pale Moon, I've never used it. I know it is based on Firefox, but I don't know what sort of changes it has.

In any event, in order to see the issue I'm talking about, you first have to disable "Smooth edges of screen fonts" in Windows 7 (System Properties > Advanced tab > Performance Settings button > Visual Effects tab), and you have to use Firefox or Google Chrome (restart them after disabling Windows font smoothing). Pale Moon and other browsers may have the same issue; but I can't say for sure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Can someone explain the difference between XP and 7 font rendering?




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