Text Rendering on MacBook Pro running Internet Explorer 8 on Vista

This is a screen grab of text rendered on my new MacBook Pro laptop, running Internet Explorer 8 on Microsoft Windows Vista (in a BootCamp partition).

My FB friend Alessandro Segalini asked me to post a screen shot. I originally saved this as a JPEG, then when I saw it in FB – where I posted it as a photo – I realized that the JPEG rendering was doing something funky to the color.

If you know how ClearType works, by manipulating the Red Green and Blue sub-pixel elements, you’ll know that any color manipulation can do weird things.

The text on FB still looks good, but I didn’t want the color weirdness (it’s only slight, but I can see it’s there) to give the wrong impression. So I’ve imported a 24-bit BMP this time. However, a thought just occurs to me: Blogger may scale this BMP to fit into its narrow column. If it does, then you won’t see the real thing here either. But if you click on it, you should see it at full size in a new window.

I’ve posted the BMP on my website, so you can download it and look at it in Windows Paint or some other pixel-level graphics tool in which you can be sure nothing funky’s being done to the original.

I’m going to write a lot more about running Windows on this great Macintosh. The 17″ screen and 133ppi display are terrific.

Dell shipped 133ppi displays about 12 years ago, of course, and has shipped displays as high as 147ppi in laptops ten years ago (Inspiron 7500 or 7800 – I forget which). But the brightness and clarity of the Mac display are something else. I opted for the high-gloss, glass screen rather than the anti-glare one. So my screen looks like a giant iPhone turned on its side…

However, neither Apple nor Microsoft – nor many websites, including Blogger – uses the screen real estate that’s available (1920 x 1200 pixels).

133ppi is definitely a threshold. Once your display is beyond that, then “traditional” websites – those designed under the outdated assumption that all displays are ~96ppi – start to break all over the place.

Windows Vista allows me to set the Font DPI to the actual screen DPI. But when I do it, websites really start going crazy. It’s not the fault of Windows, which is doing the right thing. It’s the fault of the applications and the website creators.

I’ve had to fall back to 120ppi as my Font DPI because of this problem.

This underlying assumption of ~96ppi is at the heart of many issues. The assumption has been invalid for many years now, and the problem will get worse as more and more high-res devices and displays appear.

It really is time to make computing resolution-independent.


7 thoughts on “Text Rendering on MacBook Pro running Internet Explorer 8 on Vista

  1. Richard Fink

    Resolution is a topic that’s dimly understood and can really use some detailed explaining.Just wrapping one’s head around the vocabulary is difficult.There is the native(?) resolution of the screen (the physical number of “points” the screen is capable of displaying) and then there is the virtual(?) number of points that the OS imposes by rounding out, right?Or wrong?And how does this all relate to pixels and pixel size?I’ve done considerable googling on this, have ingested a White Paper on IE’s new Adaptive Zoom feature, and yet am still largely in the dark.Will the new Bill Hill please don his mask and cape and shine some light on this?I sure would appreciate it.Because when you say “resolution independent” I have no idea what that truly means, let alone what the ramifications are.And I know I’m not alone.BTW – how to do a screen grab that doesn’t mess up Cleartype is a damned good question. I’ve seen really accurate shots, and really poor ones. There may be a fool-proof methodology, but what is it?(I use an app called SnagIt for all my grabbing needs – and I’ve never detected a big problem. But perhaps that’s because I’m usually looking at the grab on the same display. Perhaps the source of the problem is the difference in color shading from display to display. The ones I’ve got vary a lot.)

  2. Bill Hill

    I have done a lot of research and thinking about this issue. I think I can explain.I will try to find a phone booth to change in. Trouble is, these days most are just hoods and people would see me changing into my tights 🙂

  3. Bill Hill

    I find the only reasonable way to take a screen shot in Windows is to use PrintScreen and then paste it into Windows Paint.From Windows Help:Take a screen capture (print screen)You can take a picture of what is on your screen by pressing PRINT SCREEN (or PRTSCN, on some keyboards). This is called a screen capture. You can then paste the screen capture into a document, e‑mail message, or other file. There are two types of screen captures you can take: the entire screen, or just the active window. For example, if you have three programs open at the same time, you might want a screen capture of only the active window.To copy the entire screenPress PRINT SCREEN.To copy only an active windowPress ALT+PRINT SCREEN.On my Mac, since there’s no PrintScreen key, I have to use Shift-Fn-F11.The F11 key gets a lot of use on my Mac.F11: Increase/decrease speaker volume.Fn-F11: Go Full Screen in IE and FireFoxShift-Fn-F11: Print screen.I paste into Paint, clean off anything I don’t want, and save as .bmp – not JPEG, unless you want color issues.If you save as 24-bit .BMP, you’re getting exactly pixel (and thus, for ClearType, sub-pixel data).You may be able to use other apps but they need to to pixel-perfect. Any shift will really screw up ClearType.

  4. Richard Fink

    Thanks for clearing up the Cleartype screen grab issue.Bmp makes sense – I’m sure it’s the compressed formats that have caused me trouble in the past.It’s the obvious that always escapes.

  5. Richard Fink

    Ran into this news item on a new blog that looks promisingly intelligent and informative:E-Textbooks Get Kickstart From Governor Of CaliforniaGoodbye Microsoft, Hello World.If you need a roadie, let me know.

  6. Anonymous

    My friend and I were recently talking about the prevalence of technology in our day to day lives. Reading this post makes me think back to that discussion we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside… I just hope that as the price of memory decreases, the possibility of uploading our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I daydream about all the time.(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=http://kwstar88.zoomshare.com/2.shtml]R4i SDHC[/url] DS FFBrows)


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