ClearType in Internet Explorer 7

Hi. My name is Bill Hill, and I’m one of the original inventors of ClearType. My job at Microsoft is Director of Advanced Reading Technologies. The ClearType and Readability Research Group which handles the ongoing development of ClearType reports to me.

Our team’s mission is straightforward: "Research and develop innovative technologies that improve reading on the screen for Microsoft customers worldwide". Surprisingly, reading’s the major task for which people use their computers – most people spend more than half their time at the screen reading.

Since the IE7 beta went public, we’ve been monitoring all the comments on the IEblog. We want to know what kind of experience people are having, and want to look for ways to make it better for anyone who’s having problems or issues.

We’ve seen some complaints about the decision to turn on ClearType by default in IE7, and wanted to share our (and the IE team’s) thinking.

The first thing to say, though, is that this version of IE7 isn’t even Beta 2, and we know there are some bugs that need to be fixed. There are some wacky things that shouldn’t happen, and hopefully we’ll get these cleared out during the beta process.

The decision to turn ClearType on by default in IE is unusual, but was made because solid research over the past few years has shown conclusively that it improves reading - the task at which IE users spend most of their time.

When we shipped WindowsXP in 2001, we were very conservative with ClearType. We were certain ClearType would improve the user’s reading experience, especially users with LCD displays. But we didn’t have enough experience with ClearType to know either its drawbacks or the full extent of the benefits. After 5 years of real world experience and research, we’re now quite confident that the benefits for using ClearType are significant, and it was a mistake that we didn’t turn it on by default in XP.

We have solid, peer-reviewed empirical evidence showing that our users read more efficiently when ClearType is turned on. A couple of the findings have been described in our fontblog, including a 17% improvement in word recognition accuracy, and a simultaneous 5% improvement in reading speed with 2% improvement in reading comprehension. More studies are on the verge of publication, and will also be described in the fontblog.

It certainly is unusual that IE is not respecting the system ClearType setting, but the problem is that most users do not know about features that are not turned on by default. We’ve found that a large percentage of WindowsXP users don’t know about ClearType, or how to turn it on. Yet when we’ve shown someone how to do this, they immediately see a huge improvement. We believe the benefit of a 5% reading speed improvement offsets the minor annoyance for the few users that don’t like ClearType.

ClearType not only improves the reading experience on LCD displays, but also on Trinitron CRT displays where the color sub-pixel information is laid out in the same RGB pattern that we see on LCDs. Unlike when we shipped WinXP, LCD displays and Trinitron CRTs now dominate the market.

ClearType will be turned on by default in Windows Vista. Shipping ClearType on by default in IE7 gives non-Vista users of Internet Explorer the same improvement in reading online.

 - Bill Hill

Comments (189)

  1. Bastian Grupe says:

    So turn on ClearType with the next Windows Update for the whole system?

  2. matt says:

    I’m not understanding the issue. Why doesn’t IE7 honor the system ClearType setting? It sounds like you are proposing adding a IE specific ClearType setting. If so, why would you do that? It sounds like a customer education issue. Not a software issue. Can you imagine what would happen if every program started maintaining their own set of ClearType and other effects settings instead of using the system supplied values? If you are so worried about existing XP users (who won’t know the differece anyway), provide them with an informational popup box explaining that they don’t have ClearType turned on and turn it on for them.

  3. Kearns says:

    Someone complained?

    ClearType is genius, so I’m not sure what anyone’s issue would be.

  4. "Unlike when we shipped WinXP, LCD displays and Trinitron CRTs now dominate the market."

    — Or, more probably, the only markets you care about (new hardware accounted for in sales).

    Also, I’m a tad curious about this:

    "…the color sub-pixel information is laid out in the same RGB pattern that we see on LCDs…"

    — Yet, the RGB pattern on LCDs alternates between RGB and BGR, and even then there are horizontal/vertical variants of this! Incorrect ClearType actually decreases readability as the edges become more muddy and ill-defined than with conventional anti-aliased text! How on earth do you presume to know what sub-pixel order a particular monitor has assumed, for either LCD or Trinitron CRT variants?

  5. Luc says:

    Awesome job. Keep up the good work ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. José Jeria says:

    I have a lcd monitor and i have to say that i have cleartype turned off, since all the fonts looks smudgy and blurry. I wish that they would look nice like any linux distro or on mac os x.

    I have the latest beta of vista and noticed right away that it has it on by default. My eyes get very tired after a while. Also noticed that performance is worse with it on? True?

    Dont get me wrong, i think anti-aliased text is nice to have, but the windows implementation just make its look blurry. ๐Ÿ™

  7. Mark says:

    I tried ClearType for several days and then had to turn it off because the scrolling performance on my home machine (Dell Dimension 4100, P3 1.1GHz) was horrible with my LCD. For me, the visual difference was not striking and was certainly not worth the processing hit.

  8. David says:

    So, then provide an option in the IE setup to turn on ClearType system wide.

    Here is an important question: Many apps host the IE ActiveX control to show their own UI. Will ClearType used there automatically as well? If yes, this is a HUGE problem. You can’t provide a platform component for other programs to use and change its behaviour in such a massive way that will affect 3rd party apps. And yes, I know, there is an IE specific setting to turn it off. But it just gets completly unlogic if someone has to turn off ClearType in IE in order to turn it of in some 3rd party app. Programmers might understand that, users won’t.

    Finally: You might be correct that ClearType is great in almost all circumstances. You should nevertheless respect system settings. These are two completly unrelated issues. If you think it is so great, turn on the system wide setting. Don’t introduce an IE specific thing.



  9. Chad says:

    It seems there are 2 issues at hand:

    1) ClearType is good/bad.

    2) IE7 apparently ignores the system wide ClearType setting.

    Obviously the IE team feel ClearType is the way to view the web.  Some people disagree.  This shouldn’t even be a discussion point.  There is a system wide setting to turn ClearType on or off.

    The real question (in my mind) is why IE7 doesn’t obey the system wide ClearType setting.  What prompted this decision?  The answer to that question is not  "we have research that shows ClearType is easier to read".  That doesn’t address the second issue, it addresses the first.

    So, why doesn’t IE7 follow the system wide ClearType setting?

  10. mike says:

    Didn’t your mother ever teach you guys "if its not broke, don’t fix it"?

    IMHO, yes, ClearType may be genius, and yes, it may improve readability – but remember, turning it on by default is literally making a decision for the ENTIRE WORLD. I’m not so sure the world (with all its vastly different moniter variations) is ready for this…

  11. Xepol says:

    Your research is flawed.  Most people who have spoken out on the blog about it so far have hated it.  Many who don’t know what it is describe it as "blurry".  And they are right, it IS blurry since it is the result of a blur filter.

    The first feature in windows nearly everyone turns off right after an install is the click noise for begin navigation.   If you turn on ClearType for Vista, I predict that it will become the #1 hated feature and first thing turned off even before that stupid click noise.

    When I first started IE7B2P, my head IMMEDIATELY started to hurt from reading the BLURRED font.  I have played with ClearType, and I’ve even tuned it.  It does NOTHING to improve readability for me.  Text is clear and sharp on my 19" LCD display, UNTIL I turn on cleartype and then everything becomes a smudge in the note of bold.

    To call it more annoying that clippy would be to understate the matter.  Cleartype can cause ACTUAL headaches in record time.

    Worse, based on my research on the MSDN site, the only way for an application to use Cleartype when the system setting is off, is to temporarilly turn cleartype ON SYSTEM WIDE, and then reset it when its done painting.  This is a serious violation of application isolation and the possibility of artifacting in other applications is EASILY forseeable.

    If an application came with Cleartype on and no way to shut it off, I would UNINSTALL it.

    Frankly, IE7 should follow the system wide setting and leave it at that.  You want people to know about cleartype, find another venue to push it.  People are not aware of why their browser is blurry, but many have posted about it in a negative way. This doesn’t raise awareness of Cleartype, rather it drives the unaware away from IE.  Those of us who KNOW either already like it have it on or have already chosen to leave it off.

    I do use the "standard" font smoothing setting in windows, but not cleartype. Frankly, it annoys me deeply that someone has decided to IGNORE my choice not to use Cleartype and has FORCED it upon me.  If there hadn’t been a way to shut it off, IE7B2P would have been off my system (violently with a reinstall) and FIREFOX would have immediately become my primary browser inspite of its slow startup times.

    Are you getting the picture yet?

    It is funny that you bring up trinitron tubes, because cleartype is even more annoying that the wire shadows in those tubes.

  12. Sjoerd Verweij says:

    As much as I like ClearType, I reluctantly have to agree with some of the above… this is lame.

    Why not, at the end of IE7 setup, if CT is off, offer to turn it on system-wide? Heck, why not throw in the tuning wizard? 10-1 that even most of the complainers above would enjoy it if it were tuned properly.

  13. Roger says:

    I think this is another "lightning rod" topic that will draw more responses from the vocal minority that dislike cleartype than than majority that benefit from it.

    The problem is that the minority of people who dislike this feature are generally savvy enough to disable it, while the majority of people who would benefit from it are probably unaware of its existence, as mentioned in the post.

    In cases like this you have to default to what will provide the typical user the most benefit, while still allowing the option to disable the feature for users who dislike it.

    This is similar to the start menu changes implemented in Windows XP, or any of the new UI changes coming in Vista. There will be people who, after installation, immediately begin trying to revert the interface to XP or even to Windows 2000 for that matter.

    Just the same I’ve seen much more critisism of the new changes in Vista than praise, but that won’t and should not deter a company from Microsoft from implementing such changes that have been proven beneficial to a majority of users.

    This is called innovation and, ironically, it is what Microsoft is most often cited as lacking. I hope that some of the people against this feature will keep this in mind before being critical of such a decision.


  14. FRED says:

    Good work, IE7 team and ClearType team. Everytime I reinstall my system, the first thing I have to do is turn ClearType on.

    Keep working on all genius works you guys are working on. Lovers are just satisfied so they keep silent.

  15. Xepol says:

    To further illustrate my point, so far, NO ONE has added a post reading like:

    "Gee, IE7B2P is SO much more readable, what did they improve"

    NOT ONE.

  16. Xepol says:

    FRED -> you like Cleartype, so you would be a good barometer of the "ignore the system settings" complaint.

    How would you feel, if after installing IE7B2P, it turned OFF cleartype for IE7 and then you had to go find a buried setting to turn it back on.

    Would you be annoyed that it did not observe the system settings which clearly indicated your preference?  Perhaps annoyed enough to complain vocally about it?

    [Note: I do not believe that Cleartype should be discarded as a whole, inspite of my very negative opinion of it.  I do believe that my choice to have it turned off should be respected and that just because it wasn’t turned on by default and is not on now should not automatically be construed to mean that I never made "the right decission" or a decission in the first place.  Respect the system settings, that is why they are there!]

    Oh, and someone get the guy who thought up the "click" noise on navigation in here next!  Now THERE is a setting I think should go the way of clippy for everyone, forever and ever.

  17. Xepol says:

    Chad -> They ignore the system settings because they think we are all to stupid to have found the setting and played with it.  If we don’t have it turned on, we must OBVIOUSLY be uninformed, unwashed masses who need to be converted.

    Personally I question the validity of ANY statistic that says it makes anything "x% better", especially something as different from person to person as reading.

  18. Frenzie says:

    Roger, this is about system-wide settings. I have ClearType enabled, so I didn’t actually notice anything in IE7. Nevertheless, the fact that it won’t be off in IE7 if I turn it off in Windows makes more than enough reason to protest loudly and in great quantities.

    Oh and I used the tuning powertool for ClearType provided by Microsoft. For my laptop screen, it rocks. For my CRT all of the settings decrease readability so I’d turn it off on that one. But that’s not important. It can be easily switched off. As soon as non-trivial issues like there are no longer system-wide however, it’s perhaps still easy to switch off, but imagine a situation where you have to switch it off (or on) for every single program? That would be hell.

    It might be an interesting idea to allow users to disable or enable ClearType for specific programs only, but that should then be in a way similar to compatibility mode.

  19. Joe Clark says:

    It seems the issue of dishonouring system settings applies only to Windowx XP systems where ClearType is off (the majority). Vista will have ClearType on by default. Then the debat becomes one of personal preference.

    Just a note, though. If you dislike ClearType, do use the little-known ClearType Tuner. Try reading normally for a reasonable period of time. If you still don’t like it, fine, turn it off. Additionally consider getting a test for colour deficiency, as it is my hypothesis that a lot of people who dislike font antialiasing of all kinds have undiagnosed red/green colourblindness (mostly anomolous deuteranopia, the weakest kind) and see much more blurring than colour-normal people. This has, however, not been tested, which is kind of an issue I have with my esteemed colleagues at Microsoft.

  20. I use a Mac, it has it’s own version of Cleartype and makes fonts on screen look awesome. To be honest when I look at Windows XP without cleartype, the fonts look jagged and awful.

    My vote is for cleartype, once people get used to it, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

  21. I agree with the move to turn ClearType on by default; however, couldn’t you notify XP users at the first launch of the change and give them the option to turn it off or tell them where the setting are?

  22. Christian says:

    The setup for IE7 does several things that are completely unrelated  to what we want:

    – run malicious software tool

    – do a genuine advantage test.

    For the first of the two it even asks before!

    So why not just ask a second question: We have detected that you do not have cleartype enabled. Do you want to turn it on?

    That would be great!

  23. Alex says:

    Why don’t you incorporate the CT tuner found on into the IE7 firstrun experience? Just make sure people know what you’re babbling about in the firstrun-text.

  24. flode kommode says:

    Can you who claim that MS’ research is "flawed" etc, please come up with some better empirical evidence than your own taste? I’m not saying this to be rude, as that would actually be interesting…

  25. flode kommode says:

    …and one more thing: my parents (or any of my non-geek friends) wouldn’t know what to answer if they were posed yet another dialog questioning them about this "ClearType" thing they don’t know what is, even less want to spent 30 seconds learning about.

  26. Bob says:

    Bill, you are absolutely correct to default ClearType on for everyone.  It makes such a major improvement!  I’ve spent the last five years teaching everyone I meet how to turn on ClearType in XP, writing instructions on my websites, preparing "with"/"without" comparison images for further motivation.  You’ll save me a lot of time ๐Ÿ™‚ by giving everyone ClearType; it was indeed a bad mistake not to default it on for XP.

  27. Gerph says:

    Whilst I can empathise with the desire to ensure the best possible experience for users, this is always going to be subjective. Worse than telling users what is good for them is changing settings without notifying the user. In my, limited, experience, informing the user of the options and letting them decide – particularly when such an important change is being made – is important.

    Might it not be better to inform the user on their first run in a dialogue box…

    "ClearType is not currently enabled on your system. This is a technology which improves readability on most modern displays. Do you want to enable the use of ClearType ?

    [ ] Enable for Internet explorer only

    [x] Enable for entire system

    [ ] Leave settings as they are

    (Next) (Try ClearType)

    _Click here for more information on ClearType, together with examples_"

    (Try ClearType would merely change the setting temporarily, update the screen and display a box asking the user whether they prefer text like this or not, and then return back to the main dialogue when they clicked an ‘Ok’ button).

    This way the default action for most users will be to accept what you have proposed.

    Users who know what they’re doing (and dislike ClearType) will just sigh to themselves and select the ‘Leave settings as they are’ (these users would have been the ones who installed IE 7, and then cursed MS for having ignored the settings that they had made for a very good purpose without this dialogue – at least this way they’ve been informed of the change right up front).

    Users who are actually interested will follow the link, then come back having made their mind up.

    In addition, the option to enable the cleartype settings in IE 7 alone is left on one side so will only be used by those who *really* know what they want. This should reduce the general confusion by ensuring that the system default is actually being used by most things. When you flip that global option, you really do expect it to change most things and not to have to try to work out why it’s changed your whole desktop *except* IE 7.

    Possibly linking to the tuner might be useful, especially if they had turned on the option.

  28. Guido D says:

    I have to agree with:

    "Why not, at the end of IE7 setup, if CT is off, offer to turn it on system-wide? Heck, why not throw in the tuning wizard? 10-1 that even most of the complainers above would enjoy it if it were tuned properly."

    And I use Cleartype. But it’s just non-sensical to only improve part of the user experience if you have it so 100% proved that it improves reading. Go, show the user the benefits and let them decide _for the whole system_. Otherwise they will end up annoyed that the rest of Windows has ugly fonts and they don’t know why or how to fix it.

    (I don’t want to think you don’t do it system-wide just so that people see a text quality difference between IE7 and alternate browsers)

  29. kL says:

    I love clartype. I even started to like OS X subpixel smoothing…

    but forcing CT only in IE7 worries me as well.

    It takes some time to get used to CT and CT looks very odd next to standard anti-aliased fonts.

    Why not enable CT system-wide?

  30. C A Upsdell says:

    I am happy with ClearType on my PC, but many people are not on their PCs, and many of these people will not know how to disable it, or even know it can be disabled.

    It would be better IMO, when installing IE7 or Vista, to present the user with samples of text, let the user choose which sample they prefer, and then set the ClearType settings appropriately.

  31. Nicholas says:

    There is far too much whining in these comments.

    If you don’t want to use Cleartype, then just turn it off when Vista/IE7 is final. There, done.

    For the rest of the modern world (who will most likely have top-end hardware or a brand-new machine with an LCD/Trinitron CRT) they can enjoy Cleartype enabled by default and thinking nothing of it.

    Cleartype is definitely the direction to go with on-screen font rendering, and saying otherwise is just fooling yourself. Even Apple’s OSX does something similiar to Cleartype by default. Where’s the outrage over that?

  32. Shane Perran says:

    I was never a fan of cleartype until now.  I’m not sure if it’s my aging eyes or you have just really made it better but it’s fantastic.

    I think it would be a shame not to have it turned on by default.

    Worst case scenario I would probably have a simply "3-4 step" configuration wizard the first time you start IE where you could specify those things but I guess people would complain about that too huh.

    2 thumbs up from me, fantastic job!  Thanks for pushing toward a more standards compliant browser as well!

  33. Leaving aside the loaded feature name "ClearType"…

    Anti-aliasing is a religious war.  There will always be zealots on both sides trying to unilaterally enforce their point of view.

    I happen to be a "pro-aliasing" kind of guy (ClearType off, please) but as long as I can check a box I’m happy.  I don’t really care whether it’s the system default, or whether IE 7 mucks with the setting ONCE (when I install it.)

    If IE 7 unchecks the box every day, I’ll begin to be upset.

  34. Sean says:

    Along with ClearType enhancing visuals, I would like to see IE7 handle Favicons "better".  Sometimes the favicon is there and sometimes it’s not.  I like having favicons displayed on my links page as this helps me to go directly to the link I want instead of "hunting" for the link.

    Take care,


  35. Richie says:

    ClearType is, by far and away, the MOST important aid to improved reading on a PC!!!

    ClearType should be turned on AND tuned for each individual installation. If there’s some reason that ClearType doesn’t work adaquately then turn it off.

    The reasons it may not work well in all cases are do to…

    inadaquacies of the display technology in use…


    some condition the user suffers, for example, some level of color-blindness. (proper tuning may help some sufferers)

    We all see colors at different levels in different parts of the color spectrum and tuning is important for a large percentage of the display/human interfaces in use.

    CRT displays, in my experience, do NOT respond well to the tuning process. Your milage may vary…

    I’m willing to bet those who say they have problems reading ClearType are the same people who have not tuned their system. They, also, are probably using a CRT.

    It is VERY unfortunate that ClearType wasn’t implemented by default in Windows XP with an easily accessed simple tuner implemented. I’m happy to hear this will be corrected in Vista. Although, I wonder if the tuner will be a click away………

    Also, arbitrarily turning on ClearType in IE (on it’s own) should happen but ONLY if an easily accessed simple tuner is readily available. Secondarily, the IE installation/setup should provide for ‘live’ tuning introducing the user to ClearType’s many benefits.

    Thank you…


  36. Richie says:

    One more thought….

    I would like to see the tuner provide the choices it does while tuning… but… when it provides the six choices it should include one more choice… a box with the text presented with the text with ClearType NOT turned on…. not sure if this can be done… but it seems the tuner knows which font and size it is displaying in the six choices so it could display that same font and size in the seventh box without the benefit of ClearType. I’d love to see what percentage of people would chose that one! ! !

    Thank you…


  37. George Pribul says:

    I use ClearType all the time … I find it to be incredibly sharp (especially once tuned).

    Personally, I support your decision!

  38. I always use ClearType on Windows XP, because I believe it’s the best option available. That is not to say that it’s the best option that has been invented — after much experience with both ClearType and the kind of greyscale antialiasing you get in Mac OS X and Linux, I’m convinced that a consistent greyscale method (currently unavailable in Windows XP) is generally more effective at improving readability — but I still believe that it would be beneficial overall to have ClearType enabled by default.

    That said, the decision to add an IE-specific preference for this is nonsensical and just plain bad UI design. I would much prefer IE7 enabling ClearType on a system-wide level (probably with a confirmation dialog).

  39. cooperpx says:

    I second everyone in that IE7 install should just attempt to enable ClearType. Then follow the system wide setting.

    The kind of gains that are referenced is not worth the annoyance everyone knows is on its way.

  40. William Tucker says:

    Very good work keep up the progress. I like the newer style Internet explore 7 works really good and smooth..

  41. Richie says:

    One more thought… (again)… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Earier I said…

    "I’m willing to bet those who say they have problems reading ClearType are the same people who have not tuned their system. They, also, are probably using a CRT. "

    I wanted to say that another MAJOR reason these people have trouble with ClearType is when the display resolution of Windows isn’t set to match the NATIVE resolution of the LCD! ! !

    If your LCD display is 1024×768 ClearType will ONLY WORK if the display settings is 1024×768…

    If your LCD display is 1280×1024 ClearType will ONLY WORK if the display settings is 1280×1024…

    on and on… set your display resolution to the NATIVE resolution of the monitor…

    IT IS IMPERATIVE to have the display resolution in Windows settings be the same as the number of actual pixels addressable on the LCD monitor! ! !

    Thank you…


  42. you computer types sure like to make things unintellageable. i’m in yhe sign business, and what we try to do is make every thing we put out there as easy as possible to understand but then, you probably won’t know what i am talking about. just because you can say something in a way that i can’t understand doesn’t make you smarter. get it?

  43. redxii says:

    You can’t please everyone… ’nuff said

  44. Matt B-MCSE says:

    After reading comments such as those posted by Bill Hill I am starting to see where my support and engineering headaches come from.  It is one thing to build technology into IE that can help an end user, it is quite another to to break the GUI global nature that a setting like cleartype should have.

    As many of the above posts indicate, Cleartype should be a global setting in the OS only.  If it is not it is going to be one more Group Policy Setting that us engineers will have to beg for or implement ourselves.  

    I conducted a poll at my lawfirm of 100 individuals and of the 100 who have LCD displays only two thought cleartype helped.  Most thought that once cleartype was enable the text looked fuzzy and unclear.

    Most modern LCD panels worth their salt display crisp and well defined text.  No amount of cleartype tweaking is going to make it any better.  Most of the type there is terrile color banding, fuzzyness, etc. when cleartype is enabled.  

    From an engineers standpoint I don’t want to have to sit at 100 computers and tweak cleartype until it is just right.  I will be turning it off manually or more likely with a policy.  

    Please get aff your high horses and make IE 7 respect the OS gloabl settings for cleartype.

    One more quibble if I may, I sure hope the windows genuine crap will be gone from the corporate administratove deployments of IE 7.  I reimage all of my corporate PCs with WWF media to avoid all of the product activation crap in OEM Windows XP that keeps me from easily creating images of my PCs.  I really don’t need more activation headaches when deploying IE 7.

    It is a free browser after all.  I don’t see any product activation in Firefox.

  45. Jason says:

    I liked ClearType when I was giving IE7 Beta2 a try. Since it seems many people are for it and against it, why not leave it to the user to decide if they want it or not. Like how you have the setup at the beginning to turn the Phishing filter on, why not have a setting to decide if you want ClearType on or not when you first install IE7.

    Just a thought.

  46. Solomon says:

    When I first installed ie7 I was getting these headaches reading web pages and things looked different/harder to read but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I was going to uninstall ie7 but after hunting through menu’s I found the cleartype setting and turned if off on a lark.  It was like a breath of fresh air.  I consider myself pretty technical and I had no idea what it was.  I bet it’s a complaint you’ll find a lot.  Maybe during the ie7 install you should bring up dialog with cleartype turned off and on and ask the user which one they would prefer.  That would seem to solve the problem.

  47. Markus says:

    I bought Windows XP because of ClearType.

  48. Luke says:

    I tried to enable cleartype in Windows XP but on my CRT monitor everything seems showes like a bold effect. Is it normal? I don’t like

  49. Cecil Ward says:

    Several earlier posters have suggested that you should "make a suggestion" during IE7 setup and offer to turn ClearType on for the user. If so, you need to first explain ClearType and also tell the user how to turn it off again later if the results are not to the user’s taste on their particular display.

    If Microsoft wishes to educate the user about the existence of ClearType, then fine. I always use ClearType anyway, but I happen to have displays that benefit from it.

    But it simply is not acceptable for IE7 setup be used as a way of making random, unauthorised clandestine changes which have no bearing on the task in hand, which is that of installing a new web browser. There is a principle here.

    Since this has absolutely nothing to do with IE7, I would suggest that good design dictates that MS consider writing a completely separate and self-contained "Turn ClearType on advertisement wizard/tool" and offer that to users, and if you wish to bundle it with IE7 setup (as a delivery mechanism), then fine. MS could also offer this as a separate miniature download and for example publicise it on the Microsoft website. You do this with the malicious software removal tool, follow this principle here.

    Cecil Ward.

  50. Ulla Die Trulla says:

    I love Cleartype. At the first time I tried it, it seemed to be a bit blurred to me, but nowadays I couldn’t live without it on my LCD screen.

  51. Michael T says:

    "LCD displays and Trinitron CRTs now dominate the market."

    Sure, the market for *new* monitors. Not everyone in the world has a new monitor, especially in poorer countries. I would bet there are still way more CRT monitors out there actually *in use* than LCD monitors in use.

    The solution to this is simple, and has already been suggested a number of times… a first time wizard to ask whether the user wants to turn on ClearType system wide.

  52. James says:

    Presumably, Vista defaults to enabling clear type? Therefore, IE7 in Vista obeys the system default rather than having its own override? If that’s not the case, why not?

    For current platforms, I would definately advocate asking to change the global setting rather than introducing another.

  53. Alfonso says:

    When I installed XP in this computer with my LCD monitor I tried to use the ClearType setting as it was said that it was so much better, but I didn’t like it so I turned it off and let it go until now.

    Reading a previous post in this blog that pointed to the ClearType tuner I decided to give it a try. First I tried with the default settings and after 2-3 hours my eyes were aching, I couldn’t look at the screen any longer. So the next day changed the settings and made the text look bolder (just to try to get it look normal), and the results wasn’t any better. Each font family and size seemed to get different kind of antialiasing, some fonts looked normal, other looked bold. Tried again to change the settings but I didn’t find any setting that didn’t hurt my eyes or did improve the text, so if IE7 is installed some day in this computer the first thing that I will do is to disable any of those settings that doesn’t respect the OS configuration.

    Do as other suggests: after installing IE7 run the ClearType wizard and offer to change the global OS setting, not just IE7. or will also each program in the next Office suite have its setting with regards to ClearType?

  54. Moi says:

    ClearType.  It’s just better.

  55. Lex says:

    I wouldn’t normally comment – but as so many people are using: nobodies posted they like it so it’s rubbish.

    I will say ClearType makes text far easier on the eye to read and there is a perceptable increase in quality. I noticed it when I installed the beta on a test machine immediately – it’s just better.

    I would say the installer should turn it on for the system by default but I know there may be issues with that.

  56. Arnaud says:

    I discovered ClearType a few months ago. By evidence, discover the box to check in the display properties wasn’t very easy (pure luck). A very good powertoy "Clear Type Tuner" does exist. Why don’t translate it into a lot of languages (only english today) and make it a Windows Update.

    Sorry for my not very good english… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  57. Dan C. says:

    I just returned from a week vacation in Florida. While I was there, I borrowed a friend’s laptop. The first day of use, I noticed text was hard to read. I remembered about Cleartype, so I enabled it. The difference was amazing. Now I can’t imagine using an LCD without it.

    Since it worked so well, when I returned home yesterday, I enabled it on my PC using a Sony FD Trinitron monitor. To sum it up: it looks terrible. I tried various tuning settings. Text on webpages varied from being very blurry to looking rainbow colored.

    From browsing through the technical documents on the Cleartype website, it looks like it was never intended for use with CRTs. The Cleartype engine is meant to compensate for pixels with large gaps between the color components. I can’t see how this would make images on CRTs look better.

  58. Anonymous says:

    And the change will still p*ss your users off — I have ClearType off on my system because it annoys me.  What gives you the right to ignore *my* system setting?  Microsoft has been yelling for years that developers should respect system settings and now you turn around and do this.

    Readability improvements for some people is not a defense — its an excuse — and a poor one at that — for ignoring my choices.

  59. Jaap says:

    So, I guess Microsoft is telling us that the global Cleartype setting was a bad idea and every program – or at least every browser (f.e. Firefox and Opera) – should have an option to turn Cleartype on/off for that program.

    Which is OK by me, I didn’t realize that users want to have different Cleartype settings for different programs, but since Microsoft did the research they probably know best.

  60. Jason says:

    Disclosure: I run with ClearType daily both at home and at work, and absolutely cringe when I see non-cleartyped text.

    Still, I don’t like the idea of forcing ClearType onto the user. XP has an option for ClearType…use it. People above are making a valid point: why does MS have the right to ignore system settings when programmers are supposed to respect them?

    If you want to have IE7 use cleartype, do what several people have recommended above let the user choose on the first run of IE7. Don’t even ask a question like "do you want to turn cleartype on" since it will be one of those questions the user can’t answer. Rather, ask this question:

    IE7 and Windows XP contain a new technology which will allow you to read web pages and documents faster and also with less eyestrain. Below are two samples of text, one with this new technology (called ClearType) on, and one with it off [but: don’t say which is which!]. Please select which one you think looks better, so we can tailor IE7 and Windows XP to better suit you.

    And then have a hyperlink that somebody can click that lets you read more about cleartype.

  61. Brandon Bloom says:

    I have mixed feelings about ClearType. I have seen it do wonders (my personal display) and I have seen it fail spectacularly.

    I do not, however, have mixed feelings about this decision. I universally feel it is WRONG to add an override setting to IE7 for reasons mentioned above.

    Two obvious solutions:

    1) People who don’t use ClearType do not know what they are missing. Follow the system setting and tout improved text quality as a feature of Vista.

    2) Make it a required part of the first-run experience. Although I generally believe that first-run experiences should be as minimal as possible (software should "just work"), this would be the most appropriate place to offer "Text Tuning" (notice I did not say "ClearType Tuning").

    3) Make it and optional part of the first-run experience. On first run, the user’s homepage setting is generally side-stepped. Why not side-step it to a "How to improve your browser experience." page which would include a section on text tuning.

    The "ClearType Tuning" component in the control panel should be renamed "Text Tuning" and it should be reworked to eliminate the need for understanding the difference between ClearType, standard smoothing, and no smoothing. The decisions made should be entirely blind of the underlying settings they tweak. At the end of the tuning wizard, you could provide the user with a summary of the settings that have chosen in case they wish to replicate the settings more quickly across other machines.

    On a side note: The current layout of the ClearType Tuning wizard shows the choices too close together and my eyes begin to tear. All of the choices look hideous to me after about 10 seconds of trying to pick the best one. Add some more white space.

  62. Yves says:

    I really like it when the ClearType is on. I don’t understand the complaints about it. I don’t see those blury fonts your talking about. On the contrary, it is a lot clearer and comfortable for reading. So I find it hard to belive it could be so bad.

    May be it is just a matter of taste? Or may be you just need glasses?? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nevertheless, I agree that cleartype should not be an independant settings in IE7 even if it is on by default. I think IE7 should respect the system setting.

    But I also belive that in Vista, contrarily to XP, the clearType should be enable in globlal by default.

    Everybody now knows what Windows look like with clearType turned off.

    So why not now let more people find out about the cleartype enable by making it the default settings in Vista system?


  63. Tony says:

    I have tried clear type over the years on several different CRT screens and LCD screens.

    From my own subjective evidence, I find it slows my reading down and seems to cause more eyestrain. Frankly, it makes the type look fuzzy and is harder to read especially on the smaller fonts people use on most web sites. It seems to me, a sharp crisp edge against a white background would be far more readable than an overly antialiased edge that may look prettier but be far less legible.

  64. FrankyFish says:

    Please include an option in your cleartype for minimum font size, like mac, font under 10px will keep standard rendering.

  65. Brad says:

    I love cleartype.  Changed over to it in IE6 when I read an article on how to do it in one of the computer magazines.  ClearType is the only way to go. Thanks Microsoft!

  66. Joe Molnar says:

    Everyone person I have shown ClearType to believes it is an improvement.

    However, I never have them SEE my switch from Standard to ClearType. If you watch it happen it does appear to be ‘fuzzy’ at first. It then typically takes a bit of time to get use to.

    But definitely believe it increases legibility drammatically.

    That said, I would agree that it is best to have IE use the OS setting. It is distracting to have some windows look ‘standard’ and others ‘cleartype’.

    Anyhow, Bill Hill is an amazing fellow that knows fonts, screen read ability, etc. For those complaining about his approach, read up on him. He is a fascinating, great guy.

  67. Xepol says:

    Personally, I have run the tuner on cleartype, and I can STILL see the red on side, blue on the other.  And the end result is that my black text takes on a TINTED unfocused effect as if I was staring through a sheet of oil.

    I freaking hate the effect, and it does NOTHING to add to clarity of the text on my display and just gives me eyestrain.

    Someone asked for my proof?  Before they asked the fans of cleartype to weigh in, the blog is full of complaints by people who KNOW what cleartype is and don’t want it, and complaints from people who don’t know what cleartype is but want to know what is broken because everything is bold and blurry.

    Not a single person chimed in before this log and said "It looks better know, what did you fix?"  Not one.  That is my proof that the research is flawed.  Statistics ALWAYS lie, they are a tool to support your choice, not to find a solution.  Worse, most of the statistics presented here are well within standard margins of error (which are not provided for this study…)

    Spontaneous feedback from the public ALWAYS is more significant than any paid for research and statistics, as it provides honest feedback rather than expecting people to fit their answers into a predetermined range of answers which have been framed with a bias.

    How many of you have taken questionaires only to find that choices provided don’t really suit you so you just pick the closest one, or just pick one at random?  That is the bias inherent in ALL studies and statistics.

    What is 2% more readable exactly?  How do you measure that a word is 17% more recognizable?  In what time frame?  How well educated were people, are there dyslexics in the studies? How many are color blind?  How well did they read before hand?

    All these numbers are meaningless beside the fact that cleartype gives my a headache from eyestrain.

    I hate it, and I’ve chosen to leave it turned off.  Along comes the IE team and turns it on without asking me, assuming I am some ignorant unwashed member of the masses who never tried it and decided they knew better than me.  That pissed me off.

    Then I research HOW you get cleartype for just one program and it turns out that you have to keep futzing with the system wide setting every time you paint.  That’s just bad programming that can lead to interfering with how other applications work.  As a programmer, I find the technique to be equally offensive.

    Imagine if an application decided it wanted orange frame and implemented it by changing the system setting every time it drew?  There is an equal chance that other window frames could occasionally flicker in color as well.

    Any programming technique that can interfere with other applications is just plain wrong.

    As such, many of us want the following :

    1. Don’t force cleartype on us.  We don’t need or want it.  Our displays are clear, our text is crisp and it gives us eyestrain.  Ask before you turn it on, be it before while IE7 is installing on XP or while Vista is installing.

    2. Honour the system wide settings, that is what they are there for. Don’t keep changing them to suit your needs, that is bad programming practice.  If we want Cleartype, we will turn on the system wide setting.

    Personally, I would extend that concept to a third point :

    3. While upgrading to a new version, do not overwrite all my previous settings.  If I turned something off, leave it off.  Point in case, that stupid click on navigation sound.  My mouse already makes a physical click noise, I don’t want the lame, stupid click noise from the theme.  I have to turn it off every time I upgrade IE.  Quit forcing it on me, I don’t like it, no one I know likes it.  Particularilly in XP where the sound level is system wide, while listening to music, that click can be VERY annoying.  You wanna keep it, fine, but if I turn it off, don’t turn it back on.  

  68. Mike says:

    Another vote for "Don’t create your own IE-specific settings for ClearType". Microsoft frequently creates guidelines for 3rd Party programmers to follow and then stomps all over them for their own products (The Microsoft Office UI is full of examples of how *not* to follow UI conventions).

    If there is a system wide setting, do *NOT* create your own! This is the same reason I hate all these apps that come out with "OMG! Use your own skins!!!!"… hey, why not use the UI skin and let the user reskin *everything* instead?! Genius!

    Also, I still use a Trinitron CRT (Philips 19") and for what it’s worth, ClearType looks like utter crap on it. I would also make a similar argument for your icons – compare the 16px XP-style antialiased icons to the old-skool 16 colour 16 pixel Windows 95 icons – I bet you that you can more easily recognise what the icon is supposed to be with the cleaner lines and higher contrasts than the blurry nonsense the XP UI is plagued with. The "Fax Machine" is a prime example.

    Sure, it may look "ugly" being in 16 colours, but the point is that it is usable and readable – pity the same can’t be said for the Tonka Toy Luna UI.

  69. Ian says:

    I’m IT responsible for a small company where we have 8 "identical" laptops bought over two months. In my standard setup I turned ClearType on (after trying the tuning options I found the default was the best). Unfortunately the first support issue I had from 6 of the other 7 users was how to "fix" the screen display as the screen was blurry. Personally I love ClearType and have it enabled, but apparently its not a setting everybody likes or can use and in our small sample only 2 out of 8 do. As the normal case is to turn it off to have one application ignoring the system setting is simply a time, support and frustration tax that we can do without.

  70. Philip says:

    I can see your reasonings for deciding this, but it still is a very bad decision.

    IE7 needs to follow the system settings. If you feel you need to force ClearType defaults onto users, do it in a windows update or something. IE7 must follow system level settings or else what the use of having system level settings? You do nothing but *confuse* the user, exactly the opposite what you were trying to accomplish in the first place.

    Educate the users, don’t confuse them.

    I should also point out, too, that while I’ve turned off ClearType within IE. My OE is still using. ๐Ÿ™

  71. Philip says:

    I do have to say, too, I am shocked by this blog post.

    I came here expecting the IE team to say something like "we’ve listened to our community and we understand the importance of keeping with system defaults…" and then announce they were removing the ClearType setting in IE.

    Instead, we get a post further defending your very bad decision. Do you guys understand that we don’t care what the studies say? We don’t give a junk if it’s easier to read or not. What we care about is IE7 is completely ignoring system wide settings and doing things on it’s own. So now instead of ONE location to turn off ClearType there’s TWO or THREE (my OE ClearType is NOT turning off!).

    That’s the deal, it has NOTHING to do with "studies" or personal preferences. It has to do with the fact that you’re ignoring YOUR OWN global settings cause you have a "hunch" (studies) that people can read ClearType better.

  72. Joe says:

    Speak for yourself, Philip. You don’t speak for me. I want ClearType on.

  73. ieblog says:

    Outlook Express using the ClearType setting and not turning it off is a bug and will be fixed in Beta 2 (it is already fixed in our internal builds). It is caused by OE using mshtml.dll to render text and not respecting the setting in the registry.

    – Al Billings [MSFT]

  74. John says:

    Oh, for crying out loud! What is the matter with you people?! Finally, Microsoft seems to be doing something right (good CSS and XHTML rendering and ClearType) and you start making a fuzz about it?!

    Has anyone seen Lucida Grande w/o ClearType lately?!

  75. Yves says:

    I read all the post on this blog and found out that 51 post say cleartype is a improvement out of 76 (at the time of my reading). It means that only 25 post say it is not an improvement.

    Of course, I am talking cleartype in general not specific to IE7. Being against cleartype default in IE7 doe not mean one dislike cleartype as a global setting.

    So it seems that a majority of user prefer having cleartype on but with just one click for all apps.  I guess more and more people adopted cleartype and that’s why Microsoft is making it the default setting in Vista.

    I am almost certain that Microsoft knows exactly how many user have cleartype on.

    It is very easy for them to collect that information on windows update. Since it is not a confidentiel matter I don’t see why not.

    Of course it would be interesting if Microsoft would realease that kind of information.

  76. bureX says:

    As for me, Clear Type really does improve readability, but allot of people I know really hate it and refer to it as "the blurry setting". Anyway, even if 99.9% of IE users prefer to use Clear Type, you should give the possibility to the remaining 0.01% to turn it off, after all, just a few lines of code will do the job!

    @Al: Besides that, do any of your beta testers have the "refresh" problem? In my case, a fully loaded page sometimes refreshes without any particular reason (just by moving the mouse). Any thoughts?

    (PS: What about this: ? Is this issue fixed?)

  77. Wow! Lots of people are pissed with ClearType being turned on by default in IE7 (Beta 2) Bill. Personally, I love ClearType. I definately notice a difference in legibility of text when it’s turned on.

    Unfortunately, I’d have to agree with the majority of people here, that turning it on by default in IE7 (Beta 2) was a bit naughty of you. As people have said, Microsoft have told us developers to respect the users settings and not change them because we think it’s better for them.

    However, I would definately advocate the decision to turn ClearType on by default in Vista. I’d also highly recomend including the tuning wizard ( in the Control Panel. I’d also highly recomend including a Group Policy key somewhere, to help the System Admins out ofcourse.

    Although, it’s odd that there are alot of people who don’t find it easier to read with ClearType turned on. It seems like Homosapien 1.0 downgraded itself to 0.9 :). Just joking Bill, you know we all love you. Keep up the damn fine work on typography!

  78. Philip says:

    "Speak for yourself, Philip. You don’t speak for me. I want ClearType on."


    Then turn on the system wide setting. What’s so hard in that? The point of my post is that IE7 should not have it’s own ClearType setting. IE7 should listen to system settings. The IE team themselves said they felt it was an "error" on their part not to turn on (by default) CT in XP. So what do they do? "Correct" the error by adding a ClearType setting into IE7 on top XP to overwrite the system settings (just for IE7 and OE).

    I’m sorry, but that’s not a fix. That’s a band-aid in which confuses customers.

    If MS really feels that CT helps so much, then they should educate their customers (or if they wanted to shove it onto customers–create a WindowsUpdate patch to enable it at the System Level), not throw a band-aid on top their OS. Poor move, imo.

    @Al Billings:

    Thank you. However, I do still stand by my statements. OE and IE7 should listen to the System settings, not overwrite the system with their own preferences.

  79. Philip says:

    "Wow! Lots of people are pissed with ClearType being turned on by default in IE7 (Beta 2) Bill."

    You miss the point. It’s not that it’s on by default. It’s that it is /another/ setting in IE that overwrites the System settings.

    I would have absolutely no problem if IE7 turned on the System Level settings (I’d be a bit muffled). At least I can just go back and turn it off.

    But instead they added a /second/ location to enable/disabled CT. What’s the point of having a System Level setting if IE7, the main application of the OS, doesn’t listen to it?

  80. "You miss the point. It’s not that it’s on by default. It’s that it is /another/ setting in IE that overwrites the System settings."

    Yep, I did miss the point didn’t I? Oh well. The general idea of my post still stands; Microsoft made a that research shows benifits the great number of people, nuck it up a little, people get pissed at Microsoft.

    Although, one thing does seem to persist in all the comments, people seem to understand Microsoft made this change with good intentions… they just mucked it up slightly.

  81. Can I add my vote for leaving the setting in IE seperate from the system setting?

    I actually like having it on for my browser (and IE7s version of clear type seems better than the XP System version – but this just may be an illusion. Are they one and the same? The font seems "heavier" in IE7 than XP so perhaps that is the reason)

    But I hate it being on in VS.Net and my other editors, I like crisp text for code, but nice smooth text for the web.

  82. Biohazerd87 says:

    I love the ClearType font in IE 7 Beta 2. I find it much easier to read text and it looks a lot nicer.

  83. Lordmike says:

    Only problem I have with ClearType on my newly installed ie7 privew beta 2 is that when bold is mixed with regular text, the bold just gets a bit  thicker, not as thick as normal bold/regular is though.

    Fix that part or tell the people who made it in the first place and I know I will use ClearType on a regular basis.

    I have only seen this on font size 8-10 so far, I don’t know what font they use on the page I notice it the most.

  84. gordon says:

    In the IE team’s defense, Adobe Reader has anti-aliasing switched on within the program itself, separate from the Windows XP settings.  I rarely hear complaints about that.  

    It took me three years to finally give in to ClearType (because I used to think it was "blurry"), but now I love it.  I’ll never go back.

  85. Mark Steward says:

    For people who get headaches using ClearType: in addition to using native resolution on an LCD, and running the tuner (especially if it looks bold), you should be sitting further from the screen.  If you can see the blurring, you’re too close – increase the font size if necessary.  Try to relax and imagine you’re reading a newspaper – perhaps leave it on for a day with frequent breaks.

    I had difficulty with CT to begin with, and if I focus on the blurring I can still give myself headaches.  Also, easily reading aliased fonts is an acquired skill, different to reading other text, so there’s bound to be a period of re-learning.  To be honest, fonts should have been anti-aliased back in the 90s, when RISC OS did it.  I guess the thinking behind this IE-only ClearType is to break users in before Vista (though that doesn’t justify not making it a first-run option).

    However, it’s true that ClearType looks blurry on some LCDs (usually because they’re broken).  The only reason aliased fonts are better in this case is that the best ones are well hinted – try comparing Garamond 10pt to see the difference.  (I’d definitely like to see the option of greyscale AA at low font sizes in Windows – this would help with screenshots for one).

  86. Mark Steward says:

    Adobe Reader uses greyscale anti-aliasing (which looks weird, next to ClearType AA).  They should use system settings, too.

  87. Brian Dines says:

    Having Cleartype turned on has affected a few  applications on my PC – in Studio.NET 2003, in design mode for ASP.NET the text is blurry and is gives me a headache if I use it for any length of time. This, I might add, is after calibration using the cleartype control panel. I’ve not found a single setting that looks good on my display.

    I’ve turned off all settings I can find and still the blurriness exists in certain apps (mainly word, VS.NET 2003 and Outlook Express). The desktop is fine as is most applications.

    I have never liked clear type to be honest, Reader always looked blurred to me. Maybe I’m calibrating wrongly

  88. Brian says:

    >However, it’s true that ClearType looks blurry on some LCDs (usually because they’re broken).

    @Mark Steward

    I very much doubt this is the case. My LCD is only a few months old and gives a perfect picture as long as cleartype is off but with cleartype on is painfully unreadable – close or far away – The text shouldn’t shimmer…

  89. I love the way ClearType is set in the new explorer. I just got it yesterday and it is awesome! I have a Dell 19" LCD and it looks perfect. That was the first thing that hit me upon the grand opening. For sure, for sure, I like the tabs! Keep working on it, you all. Great job.

  90. Xepol says:

    Yves -> You’ve only read replies to ONE message in the blog, go back over all the messages since IE7B2P has been released, I think you’ll find that negative feedback FAR outweighs the positive.  What you will also find is an overwhelming call to honour the system settings rather than have a per app setting.  We don’t want it forced on us, but no one is demanding that it be torn out of the OS.

    Mark Steward -> So you are saying that Cleartype is only suitable for farsighted individuals then?  Crank my fonts?  Why?  I go native res, small fonts and without cleartype, my display is already crystal clear, sharp and not jagged WITHOUT cleartype.  

    Cleartype looks blurry on QUALITY LCDs because it IS blurry.  A quality display doesn’t rely on tricks to look good, it just does.  Oddly, Cleartype simulates the blur that occurs on CRT displays when pixels overlaps phosphors.  Why would I want to simulate a cheap, crappy CRT running beyond spec?

    You admit that it gives you headaches.  Why should we have a substandard user experience FORCED on us that can actually induce physical pain???  I have it turned off, I expect it to STAY off.  Tell you what, go get a virus that keeps changing your system settings and tell me how YOU feel about having your settings changed on you.  We don’t care if some people like Cleartype, they can go turn it on.

    Many of us tried it and left it off by choice.  If MS wants to educate people about Cleartype’s availablity, they have FAILED COMPLETELY.  Many people have posted wanting to know why it is blurry now.  This did not educate them.  If it did, they would ALREADY know about cleartype and why it was now blurry.

    If they want to truely educate people, it could be part of the initial setup or the first time you run IE webpage. "We have a feature called cleartype <insert propoganda here> do you want to turn it on? Y/N"  THAT would educate the public.

    This approach violates good programming practices, and offends many of our sensibilities.  Is it any wonder we are upset?  There are MANY ways that MS could achieve its goals of education (including turning it on by default in Vista, which will lead to a mass turning it off like the damn click noise) WITHOUT offending people all over the world by playing the "we know better than you do" game.

    Personally, I think MANY people with XP know about Cleartype, tried it and left it off because it STINKS.

    It wasn’t a mistake to leave it off in XP and MS is going to find that out when they ship Vista with it turned on.  Of course, a better choice would be for the installer to ASK if I want it turned on as part of my user experience…

    People who know about cleartype fall into 2 , those who like it and those who truely hate it.

    With technology that can so polarize your customers, why would you force it on them without asking them first???

  91. Nick Gilbert says:

    This is a very bad decision. This might lead other developers to add a program specific ClearType setting and we will end up needing to configure it in everything we use. Why can’t IE just enable it system wide (optionally) when you install it? Or warn you from time to time that it isn’t turned on? It’s very very stupid that it has it’s own setting. It should be enabled system wide or not at all.

    I also strongly disagree that cleartype works on CRT screens. It simply makes all the fonts look blurred which certainly does not improve readability. It also seems to give all the characters coloured edges on high-end graphics monitors and even seems to shimmer slightly which is very irritating. ClearType was designed only for LCD screens as is mentioned by yourselves on the Microsoft typography website.

  92. Graham says:

    I have to admit to turning CT off immediately due to blurring, but now that I’ve found the ‘tuner’ I’m giving it a second chance.

    CT initial observations: The tuner ‘squares’ need to show bold, 50% grey and white on black text as all three show problems that are not visible on simple black on white. Perhaps a radio button arrangement to allow selection of each manifestation?

    As to the enforced installation on IE7B2 – I was a little taken aback by the default setting, but it’s a beta and it takes discussions like this to shake things out.

    PS. The text that I’m typing in this input box is terribly blurred whereas the text on the rest of page is reasonably clear.

  93. Paul S says:

    I love and hate ClearType. It works great on my work laptop and LCD monitor but at home there are NO settings that make it work nicely on my LCD monitor so it gets left off.

    I agree with pretty much 90% of the people on here….respect the system default!!! If you enable it by default now you’ve pretty much ignored this blog…not just this entry but many that mentioned cleartype.

    IE7 is going to be a good thing, don’t let this one small thing spoil it!

  94. Jan B says:

    This has absolutely nothing to do with if ClearType is good or not. (On my Pocket PC, in MS Reader, I really like it; on my desktop I do not like it at all.) If there is a relevant system setting for a specific feature any well behaved application SHOULD adhere to it. Period!

    Every now and then I stumble across applications that ignore system settings, most of the time it relates to date, time and number formats. I try to be forgiving, try to convince myself that the developers don’t know better…

    But in this case you do know better. You are well aware of the system setting, but instead of following it you put in extra development time to override it for your specific application. That is stupid! I have told my system that I do not want ClearType and then I do not want someone saying: "Well the system setting says he does not want ClearType, but since ClearType is so great that must be because he is just a stupid user who hasn’t found the switch. So let’s give him ClearType anyway."

    There are a number of people here that already have suggested how you should handle it: Tell people about it in the IE setup and offer to switch it on, possible in combination with the tuning wizard.

  95. Nekto2 says:

    I do not like cleartype on PC also, but for PocketPC it is ok. If you do it on by default please make big option to easily turn it off ๐Ÿ™‚

    The same reason – text looks blurry.

    And if you ask for asy reading – I have a JS macros to make background of a page grey instead of white. It is better for my eyes to read black on grey or green on black. The less light coming into eyes is the better for them.

    If there whould keyboard shortcut for toggle cleartype on/off and use my colors on/off that whould help alot.

    + for easy reading I enlarge fonts a little (Ctrl "+" in Mozilla).

  96. Steve says:

    Your "solid research" is bunk!

    Of the ~100 users I talk to daily… 0% (ZERO Percent) use ClearType, and 0% (ZERO Percent) want ClearType.

    When I install the final version of IE7, THE FIRST THING I WILL DO, IS TURN IT OFF!

    This is just like installing Windows:

    Step 1.) Turn ON FILE EXTENSIONS

    Step 2.) Change all folder views to DETAILS

    Step 3.) Disable Windows Messenger

    Step 4.) Install TweakUI (or similar) and turn of "shortcut to" "the little arrow", the default "places", etc.

    Step 5.) Turn of Task Grouping… I would pay $20 right now to make the taskbar squish tasks like Win2K did… the multi-row thing is UGLY and anoying!

    End Rant for now.  It bugs me to no end, to see every post here about ClearType saying it is amazing, and great.  Talk to the IT pros, ask them which they like.

    Blurry bolder text?


    Sharp, as designed text?

    You’ll get the answer you need.

  97. Micke says:

    Have you thought about all those that have found the setting in Windows for ClearType and have it turned on. But might change their mind and want it off and it don’t turn it off in IE?

    Or even worse if there is two or more people on the same account who has different opinions about ClearType, one wants it on and the other off. It is great with system-wide settings for things like this, but sadly enough IE will breaks it…

    How do I explain this for my mother or grandfather and so on?

    What is the next system-wide setting IE (or any other application) will break? Will be fun to explain that too!?

    Please, if you have to enable ClearType atleast ask the user what he/she wants and use system-wide settings.

    – Could be done with a whole page explaining it in detail on first start.

    – And give three choices

      – Turn on system-wide

      – Turn off system-wide

      – Turn on IE only

    "The decision to turn ClearType on by default in IE is unusual, but was made because solid research over the past few years has shown conclusively that it improves reading – the task at which IE users spend most of their time."

    Is not enough for ignoring a system-wide setting. And would be fixed if you ask on first start.

    "It certainly is unusual that IE is not respecting the system ClearType setting, but the problem is that most users do not know about features that are not turned on by default."

    Would be fixed if you ask on first start.

    (If you are ignoring all these complaints on this blog please atleast make IE turn on the system-wide setting and not IE only and make IE turn of it’s ClearType when system-wide setting is turned off.)

  98. Tim says:

    Is it just me, or am I just being nit-picky & petty about Microsoft when they say:

    "Surprisingly, readingโ€™s the major task for which people use their computers โ€“ most people spend more than half their time at the screen reading."

    Reeealllyy…..?  ‘Surprisingly’…What exactly is so surprising about that????

    I mean other than reading ">1/2 the time" what else is there…oh yeah..besides playing games, spilling your drink of choice on the keyboard and having to change every setting known to man, what else is there time for?

    I heard some really, really silly things come from MS, but this ranks in the top 10.

  99. Dayman says:

    I don’t have a problem with ClearType, as I have it enabled on both my laptop and my desktop LCD.  

    I do however, think that an on/off switch is necessary for IE.  Perhaps a preview similar to switching resolutions with an ”Are you sure you want to keep this setting? Y/N" box.

    In making things ‘easy’ to use for the average user, they become ever so harder to find and change for the advanced ones.

  100. Ben says:

    I use ClearType on one computer with an LCD, and I turn it off on my other computer with a Trinitron CRT. I would prefer if IE7 would honor the system setting so that I don’t have to set it manually. Be like the search box guys and respect what’s already set on the system.

    As many people have recommended, attach the ClearType tuner to the end of setup. Even with my LCD, I have to use the tuner to change the sub-pixel order from RGB to BGR. When Windows XP shipped, it didn’t support BGR, that came later with SP1. If I could tune my CRT to use ClearType with grayscale, I would, but that doesn’t appear to be an option.

    Finally, even though Trinitron CRTs do order their phosphurs in stripes like an LCD, that does not guarantee that the beam will hit them in the order that you expect (i.e. RGB). There’s a high probability, but it won’t necessarily happen. This is why I turn it off on my CRT – sometimes the text looks good, othertimes it looks blurry.

  101. Mark Steward says:

    Xepol: no, sorry for confusion – I meant that ClearType just doesn’t work close up.  That’s why Magnifier turns ClearType off when running.  If you’re closer to the screen than is recommended (for whatever reason) you’ll probably find it distracting (and should consider getting a smaller screen with a higher DPI).  I don’t believe this is the problem you’re having, though.

    > Crank my fonts?  Why?  I go native res, small fonts and without cleartype, my display is already crystal clear, sharp and not jagged WITHOUT cleartype.

    I think this is a preference thing: yes, they’re undeniably sharp, but presumably you’re used to analysing the shapes of letters from the more pixellated forms.  Some people prefer seeing a more rounded shape, closer to what you’d get if you photographed a page of printed text.

    Also, I should qualify "some LCDs" as around 50% in my experience.  While all laptops I’ve used have wonderful displays and can use ClearType with no problem, around half the LCD displays I’ve met exhibit shimmering or blurring.  The blurring problem can usually be fixed with minor adjustments, but some never look clear: perhaps the stripes in their pixels are too close together.  And I think this wouldn’t be the case if sub-pixel rendering had been popularised earlier.

    Hopefully, if ClearType becomes mainstream, LCD manufacturers will ensure their displays "work", or somebody will build a way of correcting the rendering to stop the blurring.



  102. PatriotB says:

    Xepol: "Worse, based on my research on the MSDN site, the only way for an application to use Cleartype when the system setting is off, is to temporarilly turn cleartype ON SYSTEM WIDE, and then reset it when its done painting.  This is a serious violation of application isolation and the possibility of artifacting in other applications is EASILY forseeable."

    Take a look at the CreateFont function; specifically, the fdwQuality parameter.  Looks like you can choose whether to use ClearType or not.  I’m assuming that when you select such a font into a display context and draw text with it, it will obey the fdwQuality that you passed in (though I haven’t specifically tested it).

  103. Xepol says:

    PatriotB. Thanks, good catch.  I was mislead by

    Fortunately, I have now dug up

    So it does look like you can use cleartype per application without violating application boundaries.  I’ve been bitching about this since day 1, and frankly I am a little surprised that an MS team member didn’t jump in themselves.

    Since this STILL requires ignoring the system settings however, I don’t believe this is a wise choice.  Again, MS should definitely stick to honouring the system settings, or they should stop giving us meaningless system settings that they themselves ignore.

    Mark -> "Cleartype just doesn’t work close up"  Uh, cleartype just doesn’t work.  If I have to sit far enough back that my visual acuity drops to the point where it blurs the red and blue lines into the black, it DEFEATS the point of it.  However, before you suggested it, I did try moving my monitor back further and tried again. The blur was just as obvious to me, the red and blue fringes are very annoying.  Frankly I don’t see what the point is in investing in a display that is this crisp and sharp and then digitally sabotaging it to act like a low quality CRT tube.

    Based on what I am reading here I have a question.

    Of those who use Cleartype on an LCD :

    Do you find cleartype blurry and do you have analog VGA connector or DVI?

    Secondly, when you look at the white area on your screen, would you describe it as yellowish  or blueish? (for those who actually understand the question, what color tempurature is your display rendering at?)

    To get this started

    I find it blurry, I have a DVI interface and run my display at the very top of the color temperature range at 9999k.

  104. Jason B says:

    I’m a programmer using two pretty top CRT’s.

    I tried Cleartype. I hated it. It seemed to make everything bold and blurry, I could see the red and blue on each side of a character. I turned it off.

    But then I really liked the way text in OSX looked, so I turned it back on. After 2 days I couldn’t live without it (I got used to the "bold/blurry effect", which really isn’t bold/blurry by the way once you get used to it compared to the non-Cleartype text). I now love Cleartype.

    Those of you who don’t like it, please make try it for a while longer than a few minutes and those first impressions you had when you switched it on. For some people sure, they won’t like it (eg. IT Techies, but then since when have they like anything that looked good? Probably the same people who switched back to good ol’ classic mode as soon as they got XP… because it’s "clean"), for most it will be absolutely perfect.

    I can bet that once you enable it on most user’s screens (as long as the LCD resolutions are set correctly, please!), after a day or two they’ll be used to it and won’t even notice it’s there (and the whole idea is for it NOT to be noticed).

    My 2c…

  105. Yves says:

    to Xepol

    I use LCD 19" on a DVI connector.

    I use the "cool" type (blue).

    I use native resolution 1280×1024 also the max

    It is not blurry and no fringes of any color except very few and very rarely. Really have to look for them to see one. Nothing to make me go back to standard type.

    Standard type is ok too. No problem there.

    But to me cleartype look nicer and is more "confortable" to my eye.

  106. FRiC says:

    Since we’re all complaining about ClearType in IE7, can I ask how to turn off ClearType in Microsoft Reader? I’ve been unable to use Microsoft Reader since the later version has ClearType enabled by default and I can’t seem to find a way to disable it.

  107. josh says:

    I really wouldn’t recommend using ClearType on a CRT…  Yeah, Trinitron monitors tend to have subpixels in RGB order, but physical CRT pixels don’t usually map 1:1 to logical pixels.  (worse, if your monitor’s alignment isn’t perfect you can have cleartype help in one corner and make text completely illegible in another, on the same display)

    If you get "shimmering" on an LCD then you have a cheap LCD or a cheap connection.  Or maybe a cheap video card.  I’ve seen this on an LCD connected via an analog cable (greatly reduced by tweaking the refresh rate), but never with DVI.

    Given that many people will happily run LCD panels at a non-native resolution, I doubt the miniscule blurriness from poorly tuned ClearType will bother them.

    Still, unless your research indicates that people want ClearType on for web browsing but off for everything else, why would you make it a separate setting?  If you’re not willing to reach in and change the users’ OS settings, don’t split them either.

  108. Ross says:

    Dear Bill Hill,

    I have a lot of respect for ClearType, and the benefits that it can provide users. Sure, there is a lot of debate here about ClearType itself, which makes things even more confusing, because then you get people saying "I’m all for it" – meaning they are all for ClearType, without really saying they are for IE having its own setting.

    For me, this is the key. ClearType is innovation, no doubt. IE having its own ClearType setting is not innovative, it is simply dumb.

    Why not do the smart thing and have IE7 Install do a wizard/tune for system-wide CT? Is MS concerned that users will be too afraid to enable it for everything? Doesn’t this tell you all you need to know?

    Once again, please don’t add *another* layer of checkbox cludge onto the Windows UI experience, MS should be steering towards a cleaner, more concise UI control panel, not a bunch of options tacked on here and there based on one particular devs teams assertions about a feature.

    If you are so convinced CT is needed, then get the whole Windows team onboard and behind a system-wide enabling on IE7 install – and not just leave it to the IE team’s walled castle.

    I repeat, this is not a discussion about the merits and justification of CT – its a discussion about the merits of disregarding global settings for which there still appears to be no justification.

  109. This issue has come up time and again on this blog, and although I like cleartype I have to agree with a lot that people are saying. IE should use the system setting, as if someone wants it on, they’ll want it in IE too, likewise if someone doesn’t like it, they’ll not like it in IE any more than in Word.

    Agreed, it’s good to let people know about it, but I think some of the suggestions that the community have made about either a balloon window or a note at the end of IE7 install should be heeded. C’mon Microsoft, this is valuable customer-feedback and suggestions that you’re getting FREE… it would be folly not to take the advice!

    CT looks nice on my Compaq V110 21" CRT, but less good on my Dell 15" which I have in a dual-display setup. I still have it turned on system-wide though, as I do most things on the 21". I don’t currently have any Linux distros installed due to hard disc space, but next time i’ll watch out for how it renders ClearType. It’s certainly very nice on Mac OS X ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Xepol: the first thing I *always* turn off is the crap system sound setting! Give me "No Sounds" anyday! The only thing I want to hear out of those speakers is the iTunes output! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m still at a loss to explain why M$ still include Windows Messenger in XPSP2… that always gets removed straight away, along with MSN Explorer and plenty of other crap, plus let’s put My Documents and My Computer back on the desktop, where they belong ๐Ÿ™‚

  110. Thomas Bratt says:

    The idea of ClearType was not invented at Microsoft at all.  There is much earlier research and implementation in real operating systems many years ago.

    A quote from Wikipedia:

    "While the exact implementation of ClearType is specific to Microsoft, the overall principles upon which it is based have been known and used for many years in various types of display systems, such as that used by Apple II computers with NTSC television sets in the 1970s."

  111. Mantvydas says:

    I don’t understand. How can you LOVE cleartype?

    I support so many users in my company. EVERYONE, whom I have turned cleartype on, tells me: "Look, Mr.administrator, my fonts became somehow blurry suddenly, could you please do something to it, like it was before?"

    While idea of cleartype is nice, its implementation is clearly flawed.

  112. Alun Jones says:

    Brussel sprouts taste marvelous.  Our research indicates that everyone likes brussel sprouts.  Those of you that say you don’t like brussel sprouts are clearly lying, or haven’t had the right kind of brussel sprouts, and should keep experimenting with them until you find the right kind.

    A few people at Microsoft have persuaded me that they get the idea that something that upsets a fraction of a percentage of their users still irritates thousands of people.  There are certain settings on my computer that I have set up in order to avoid frequent migraines.  Refresh rate is one of those; Clear Type is another.

    I don’t care what your research says, with Clear Type on, I get more migraines, and with Clear Type off, I get fewer migraines.  If I set something to reduce my migraines, please don’t feel like you should ignore it just because you think I should like what you’re offering.

  113. Dan Fowlkes says:

    I’ve never had a bad experience with ClearType.  The first thing I do when I get a new computer is turn it on.  I’ve turned it on for my parents, grandparents, and friends and every one of them has gushed about how great it is.

    I can only assume that those who are complaining about it are:

    * biased

    * ignorant

    * not tuning it

    * not running in native display mode

    ClearType isn’t blurring.

  114. jace says:

    Dan, et al.

    Do any of you "assumers" have an astigmatism? My astigmatism is quite accute, I don’t need someone else deciding how my fonts should be rendered.

    Cleartype simply isn’t for everyone, and it’s just as hard to turn it off, as it is to turn it on.

    Making this the default, without an option to disable it during the installation, seems irresponsible.

  115. Sean E says:

    I have two identical LCD displays, but one is attached via DVI and one via VGA.  I love cleartype on the DVI connection.   But the VGA connection is blurry/bold.  I wish I could turn it off on the VGA connection – or tune it differently per connection/display.

  116. Sean’s suggestion makes a lot of sense to me.  ClearType should be a per-monitor setting.  (Or generically, per-video-output.)

  117. Xepol says:

    Jace -> actually it IS harder to turn off since IE buried a hidden setting deep in the core of settings most people never touch because they don’t understand them.  Which is why we are all advocating honouring the system settings.  This deeply simplifies the issue AND allows those who like cleartype to use it.

    We are all hoping by expressing how much we hate it that MS will realize that it is a hot topic and leave it with the system setting instead of trying to get cute.  

    If they want people to turn on cleartype there are MANY better ways to introduce the topic, esp. with the first run screeen that IE has.  All they have to do is make it part of that screen to lead people to the system settings.

    If MS truely believes that Cleartype is such a great invention that everyone should use, they should be leading people to the system wide setting so that they can use it all the time with every application.

    Instead, they made all the wrong decissions and really pissed a lot of people off.  

    Only the most radical moron would object to being lead to a system wide configuration option, because they would still have the option to turn it on or leave it off, or turn it off again (having been LEAD to where it is set), and those people would have no traction with their "linux is better, ms is evil, this is stupid, you all suck" rants.

    However, making the decission for us, making it unnecissarilly complicated to turn it off (technically 2 settings make it twice as hard as a minimum) all reaks of "we know better than you, you morons", which is NOT a tact MS should have ever taken.

    Here hopes they learn and do it right next time.

  118. Xepol says:

    Dan -> actually Cleartype is exactly the blur you would get from a diffraction grating or prism. Blur is the very heart of cleartype, it is how it works.

    Alun -> I doubt MS did any serious research into cleartype, eyestrain and migraine incidents.  It would be interesting to research considering that many people who have used cleartype said it took days to get use to.  If that isn’t a sign of eyestrain, I don’t know what is.  Wanna bet they don’t even connect increased headaches with the cleartype?  Again, it would be interesting to see if there is a significant link between cleartype and eyestrain and eyestrain induced headaches and migraines.  I know it caused me pretty much instant pain.

    Yup, a rendering choice CAN give you a headache.

  119. Jesper Edvardsen | Denmark says:

    Dear Microsoft

    Not having IE7 accepting the users settings is a mistake. I must admit that so far, I´m not impressed with ClearType, so make it optional.


    Jesper Edvardsen | Denmark

  120. mocax says:

    cleartype text appear to dance in psychedelic colors on my 19" LCD monitor…..

    Microsoft should include the choice of cleartype at installation. the screen will present 2 pages of text, one with cleartype, then ask the user to click the one that appears least mind-boggling.

    simple as adding one more step in the install script.

    BTW, how do I turn it off in Outlook Express, it’s the only app on windows that still use cleartype… I need to use it some time to act as intermediary between Thunderbird and Outlook…

  121. Dana Goyette says:

    Has anyone here seen RGB ClearType on a BGR display (like my college’s computer labs)?  It’s horrible — looks like bad convergence.  Also, my 19" Trinitron has enough convergence issues as it is — ClearType makes them worse.  

    I’d replace or RMA the monitor, but how would I ship 50 pounds? Also, it has a scratch.

  122. Antonio Marques says:

    I think this is a BIG mistake. In ALL CRT monitors at my office (all Samsung SyncMaster 755dfx Flat CRTs) turning ClearType on makes ALL text appear fuzzy.

    I quickly discovered how to turn it off, but this is not easy to find by a normal user…

    Again: big mistake guys. UNLESS you can put a BIG button making it easy to turn on/off the feature.

  123. fbcontrb says:

    Hi, Iโ€™m one of the members of the Advanced Reading Technologies team involved with measuring reading performance including the benefit of ClearType. Since there have been several comments critical of our research, I thought Iโ€™d add my two cents.

    It is very easy to use the scientific method to test the hypothesis that users read faster and more accurately with ClearType than with black & white rendering. We partnered with academic experts who have carried out many reading studies. The research methods they used were all standard methods used for reading studies. The details of their studies were described in great detail and reviewed by peers in their field for any possible methodological flaw before being accepted for publication.

    People who say that statistics always lie, donโ€™t understand how statistics are used in scientific settings. Mark Twainโ€™s famous quote is about descriptive statistics. It is possible to cherry pick selective descriptive statistics to make a stronger argument. But the statistics used in the scientific method to compare two conditions are called inferential statistics. Inferential statistics are tests to see if a difference between two or more conditions is reliable (historically called significant) or if the difference could have been a chance effect. Statistically reliable performance differences are strong findings.

    I strongly encourage the posters who donโ€™t trust the data to go and read the journal articles by our academic partners. I would welcome critiques of their papers. The purpose of our research effort is to improve on what we have accomplished with ClearType, and we can learn from intelligent critiques. The scientific method has been a successful learning tool because it does encourage community feedback.

    Cheers, Kevin Larson

  124. GregH says:

    My name is Greg Hitchcock, and Iโ€™m an architect on Microsoftโ€™s Advanced Reading Technologies team.

    Iโ€™m speaking as someone involved with the implementation of the APIs in Windows for font smoothing and ClearType. These APIs were initially implemented in 1994 for Windows 95 and enhanced in 2000 for the ClearType work in Windows XP. ClearType, like its predecessor font smoothing, was designed to have both a system setting *and* a per font setting. The *intent* was that applications could and should make a per application decision if it adds value to the application. The per font setting was implemented as a flag in the LogFont of GDI, so, for example, an application may wish to treat something like print preview with a different style of rendering than general reading text. The system wide value was intended for the user to select the general appearance of text, but it was not intended to override the application setting. The system setting is implemented in the registry and accessible through the SPI calls.

    Applications with a strong focus on reading have seen great value in improving the default text rendering solutions. Microsoft Reader was the first to explicitly choose to use ClearType to provide an improved reading experience. The Adobe Reader has long been using its own grayscale solution, and more recently has been using their CoolType technology. Likewise, Java applications use their own rendering model as does Adobe (previously Macromedia) Flash. Of course the largest product to use ClearType is the reading mode for Microsoft Word 2003. There have been very few negative comments about the rendering in Wordโ€™s reading mode.

    Using the system settings, and consistency in general, are good rules of thumb. But we think that user needs are a higher priority given the tasks that they are going to conduct with the application. If reading is the primary task then the goal is to provide the best reading environment possible.

    Greg Hitchcock

  125. Max says:


    Hi Greg,

    A couple things worth my attention in what you just wrote.

    A) the fact that people have not complained about the anti-aliasing rendering of Adobe reader and MS Word is not that much relevant to this discussion, since these applications should show you on screen what your content will look like on paper. Not the case for IE.

    B) I agree that system-wide settings should not dictate applications how to behave, but should instead be understood as a suggestion of the user’s preference. Definitely agree.

    My concern is that although your post makes a lot of sense to me, there is an underlying confusing as to what programs are applications. Let’s be clear, by application I mean the software layer users interact with, id est: programs that can make final decisions.

    Adobe and MS Word (and my company’s software) are final applications and should therefore make decisions.

    IE, on the other hand, is not. It’s just a giant canvas, a platform that runs other applications. And as such, it should not dictate how the user or the website developers chose to see their contents.

    I believe the ClearType setting should definitely stay in IE, but I think it should be a lot more accessible. Like be a checkbox in the main toolbar, next to the Home Icon. Whatever you guys figure out.

    There are some sites where the scrolling speed *KILLS* me in ClearType. There are other sites that I just love with it. I am half-half on whether I want it on or off.

    Now, here’s the key-thing: it’s not clear whether the added benefit when it’s works overcompensates the frustration for when it doesn’t. In my case: the balance made me turn it completely off and the setting is so buried down in the app that I probably won’t ever turn it back on, unless it’s made more available.


  126. Ashutosh Galande says:

    I agree with Greg here. Following system-wide settings for consistency is ok but the end user experience is more important. We already have a bunch of applications (media players/IM programs etc. both microsoft as well as non-Microsoft) that don’t honor system wide color and windowing settings. Office 12 doesn’t have the much familiar menu styles… Each app customizes its appearance to make sure that it’s end users have the best experience using it. And I must say ClearType does provide a great reading experience. In fact that was the first thing I noticed when I started using IE7. As long as it is possible to disable it using Internet options settings/during setup, I think its fine.

  127. mocax says:

    did a print screen of cleartype text and did a magnification.

    Notice the edges of the text have bluish and reddish tints.

    Is there anyway to make it all gray scale, or in the same hue as the font’s color?

  128. Internet Explorer 7 says:

    Internet Explorer 7

  129. ross says:

    Ashutosh Galande wrote:

    "…We already have a bunch of applications (media players/IM programs etc. both microsoft as well as non-Microsoft) that don’t honor system wide color and windowing settings. Office 12 doesn’t have the much familiar menu styles… Each app customizes its appearance to make sure that it’s end users have the best experience using it…"

    PRECISELY the wrong thing to do! EXACTLY the wrong philosophy to have – and the reason why the Media Center Remote has so many buttons that it makes Bill itch.

    Applications should respect and adhere to the UI conventions (for good or for bad) that an OS has. If there is something wrong with the UI, then fix it at the OS level, don’t solve UI problems your own way in your own application.

    I can accept independant software companies developing apps that re-interpret standard UI conventions, because they think they know better, or they are offering a clearly different user interaction. But in terms of Microsoft itself absolutely butchering the UI for Office, Media Player, Outlook, and now it seems IE7, a totally, totally, totally stupid move.

    Lets face it, if the standard Windows UI conventions can’t cater for Office or IE then something is seriously wrong!!!!

    I guess this is the key problem at Microsoft – and probably one of the reasons it is beggining to stumble – too many teams (permitted to) doing their own (UI) thing as they see fit, not following conventions or rules laid out before them.

    Hacking around with the UI in IE7 is like re-arranging deck chairs on the titanic – except you are also moving all of the chairs over to the side that is leaning most.

  130. ross says:

    mocax: "Is there anyway to make it all gray scale, or in the same hue as the font’s color? "

    – Actually that is the whole point of cleartype, it uses the adjacent subpixels for font smoothing…

  131. Andrew says:

    Sure, it’s the point as it is /now/, but I (a steadfast CRT user) would use ClearType if you could tune it as well as FreeType in Linux (at least the Fedora Core 4 distro I use).

    They let you choose horizontal or vertical pixel placement for both RGB and BGR orders for the LCD users, or greyscale antialising for the CRT users. You can tune the amount of hinting that gets used, and the range of font sizes that recieve antialiasing. FreeType with greyscale antialiasing looks as good on a CRT as a properly tuned ClearType setup looks on an LCD… Windows XP’s "standard" antialiasing looks terrible in comparison, and even a ClearType render greyscaled in Photoshop looks better, apart from the slightly fuzzed vertical lines (such as in the lowercase letter L).

    Unfortunately, Linux doesn’t do a whole lot else that I need, so I’m stuck with less-than-ideal Windows font rendering. I’d be /very/ inclined to purchase Vista if it contained a significantly better font rendering tuner – particularly with a proper greyscale setting.

    …and having IE disrespect the Windows ClearType setting is just a bad idea, although at least an option exists to turn it off /somwhere/. I won’t use Google’s Talk program for the simple reason that ClearType is "stuck" in the on position.

  132. Arthur Fortune says:

    I find that ClearType improves reading when using fonts like "Times New Roman" and "Comic Sans MS", but impairs reading when using fonts like "Verdana" and "Tahoma".

    I think the reason is based on how the character gymphs are constructed. "Verdana" is based on many vertical and horizontal straight lines and minimizes curves, whilst "Times New Roman" uses many curves so that they look good in print.

    I think the logic goes that with vertical and horizontal lines, since they go along the grain of screen pixels, having them aliased (no ClearType) makes them look better. It’s clear and makes regions well marked out.

    With curved or slanted lines, since they don’t follow the grain of screen pixels, having them anti-aliased (ClearType) makes them look better since anti-alias lines simulates a real curved line much better than just having jagged pixels.

    That’s why "Verdana" looks better without ClearType and "Times New Roman" looks better with ClearType.

    The reason why Adobe Reader and Office Word look good with ClearType is because they use "Times New Roman". And the reason why IE looks good without ClearType is because it uses "Verdana".

  133. Jaap says:

    I find it somewhat of a pity that this discussion turns out to be a discussion about the merits of ClearType.

    This discussion is not about ClearType being good or bad. I myself use ClearType on my tft monitor and I like it, but I didn’t use it on my crt monitor. This discussion isn’t even about IE7 turning on ClearType by default. Even though this is debatable, I think Bill Hill makes a good point on not respecting the system ClearType setting.

    But what mr. Hill does not explain, is why IE7 uses it’s own ClearType setting, separate from the system setting. The only reason for that, that I can think of now, is that users want IE7 to display ClearType, but not the other applications. But I don’t think that’s the case; I think users want ClearType either turned on or off for all applications, that the ClearType setting is clearly (pardon the phun) a system-wide setting and not a per-application setting. I think making ClearType an IE7 setting does not educate the user, and may confuse him/her.

    It’s a pity that mr. Hill didn’t clarify the decision to make the ClearType setting an IE7 specific setting.

  134. upanisad says:

    Quite amusing!

    I’ve always hated Clear Type and anti-aliasing! It dramatically lowers readabilty for me! Just blamed it every time I had my hands on a Mac and now what… I install IE 7 and it’s turned on by default! AAARRGH!

    I swear it: the FIRST thing I’ve noticed when I fired up IE7 for the first time was that damn blurry fonts. The FIRST thing I’ve done is tryng to disable it (and haven’t been able to!)

    Now I casually came across this post and it appears it’s the new Microsoft theorem: clear Types is godd for all, so everybody MUST use it!

    No, I may be in a minority but, for me it’s just BAD, extremely bad! It’s a bad enough reason to not use IE7 at all! My eyes go bonkers and start becoming red and irritated with Clear Type!!!

    If the majority likes it, it’s ok to have it on by default as long as you can immediately and easily disable it.

    Or I’ll never use Vista or IE7. My own personal reaction of my own eyes is much more important than any reasearch or Microsoft decision!

    (BTW, I’ve always known about Clear Types, tried it years ago for half an hour, found it unreadable and never ever enabled it again!)

  135. vic says:

    Would be nice if there was a notifcation when instaliing that clear type was enabled with instructions on how to fine tune. I prefer Clear Type for my 2 19-In Acer AL1912 Black LCD Flat Panel Monitors side by side. For anyone who cannot locate the wizard you can use the online version here.

  136. Andi says:

    This debate has made me actually start using ClearType on my TFT at work. I have been pleasantly surprised to find that I prefer ClearType enabled!

    The fact that this debate has made me aware of a feature I’ve ignored so far, suggests that it’s right to raise awareness in the general population too. However, it’s got to be a system wide setting, surely.

    If a user has ClearType switched on in IE7 (and they find it beneficial) but not when using anything else, surely that will be frustrating to a ‘typical’ user that cannot locate the ClearType ‘on’ button?

    Make people aware of the function by all means, but I think forcing it by default in IE is taking the wrong opportunity to do it.

  137. Roger Eve says:

    ClearType should be a matter of choice. I personally hate it and did so as soon as IE7 booted up. I found I could turn it off in the advanced internet settings option, BUT am stuck with it in Outlook Express!!! Can anyone tell me how to turn it off there. Also, being ignorant ๐Ÿ™‚ how do I turn it on/off system wide – I’m on XP home.


  138. Nekto2 says:

    2 Kevin Larson:

    Hey – we are not saying that statistics are wrong ๐Ÿ™‚ It could be true for general audience that readibility is better (or say faster ๐Ÿ˜‰

    But we are saing that overall usability is worse in several cases (speed of scroll, eye ache because of fuzzy text, support for diferent monitors etc). That is all.

    And I am no against it as default setting, but I need easy way to turn it on/off/calibrate every time I need it or change my monitor (notebook/note+external monitor/presentation/screenshots etc). ๐Ÿ™‚

  139. Robert S Sharp says:

    I would argue that ClearType does not make things more readable. I would suggest that my reading speed changes when I change the width of my IE window, ie, when it’s restored I read quickly, and when it is maximized on a wide-aspect 32-inch LCD, I read very slowly.

    I am legally blind. I have to have a telescope sticking out of one lens of my glasses to drive. I benefited from large print test forms in elementary school. Vision aids typically help. But ClearType makes things harder to read. And the colors around the edges of letters make me feel like my monitor is broken.

  140. helmers blog says:

    I  just installed IE 7 (2. beta) on my new laptop, it automatically subsribed me to their development blog, and there I came across &lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;this post&lt;/a&gt;,

  141. Anonymous says:

    To people complaining about color fringing: If cleartype is tuned correctly, and your monitor is an LCD monitor with the right pixel order, the color fringing turns into higher horizontal resolution and is not visible AT ALL. If it is visible, you either need to get yourself a DVI connection to that monitor, or make sure that you’re actually running it at native resolution.

    To Microsoft, please make Windows verify that the display is running at native res before applying ClearType, as otherwise it ruins the entire effect.

  142. Andrue Cope says:

    I see two problems here. The first is the somewhat arrogant attitude of the Clear Type team. Perhaps it’s the way the blog was written but it comes across to me as "we invented it, we think it’s wonderful and anyone that disagrees is a fool so we will ignore their wishes and teach them the error of their ways"

    That is bull.

    Although a lot of people might be unaware of clear type it is an insult to assume that everyone that has it turned off does so through ignorance. People’s eyes are different and some of us have genuine problems with Clear Type. Maybe it’s because we have some subtle optical defect but you don’t go stealing wheel chairs from cripples do you?

    Respect the system settings. As has been suggested – offer to activate clear type and/or assist in tuning it but don’t arbitrarily turn it on.

  143. Brandon says:

    I think that an update to cleartype should be shipped with IE7. If it is going to be enabled by default, why not update cleartype to the latest and greatest version?

  144. User from Germany says:

    I like the Cleartype feature in IE7beta2.

    I only turned cleartype for my complete system off, because it makes the system slow.

    I have disabled Cleartype for the system, but in IE its enabled.

    So i have cleartype for reading websites and my Pc is fast enough. ๐Ÿ™‚

  145. Jack says:

    I would say arrogant is an understatement.They really do have an off putting attitude.

  146. Daniel says:

    Great Job, I love it! since I have installed IE7 (Beta 2) it feels like I have installed a whole new OS and laptop. My laptop’s look &feel is better then ever…

    Keep up the good job.


  147. Andrew says:

    In response to a very high up post by Xepol, about 15 minutes ago I was thinking that IE7 looks much nicer than everything else. It just so happened that I saw ClearType and wondered if that was related, and now i’ve got it switched on for all of XP. I’m using a Toshiba Laptop and it looks very nice on my screen.

    I understand what people are saying about IE ignoring system settings though. If it wasn’t for it being turned on by default in IE then I would never’ve found it in XP, but I’d rather have an option on the IE install as well.

  148. Per says:

    Who had the nerve to come up with the name "ClearType"? The name is a joke. In fact, ClearType is by far the most unclear type I have ever seen…

  149. Andrue Cope says:

    Okay so I spent half an hour this evening trying to tune ClearType. I have never succeeded before and I failed again this time.

    Some colour schemes look okay with it, others don’t. I can’t find any single setting that works all the time. In any case after half an hour I began to feel genuinely sick in the pit of my stomach so I turned it off.

    Almost immediately the feeling passed.

    This is on a 1280×800 colour LCD on my laptop. I might try it at work but I did that about six months ago with much the same results.

  150. none says:

    I don’t like the clear type at all. I tried the tuner, I have a correctly setup lcd. It reduces performance, and is blurry.

    Please oh please include a setting to turn this off.

  151. Shizumaru says:

    I think cleartype is a good idea, but to my mind, I prefer non antialiased text. With my 14" LCD Laptop, small fonts are really pleasant to use and cleartype produced a catastrophic result. Please, include a setting to turn cleartype off ! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  152. Christian Roth says:

    Why not just have an option during the setup asking if the user has a CRT and LCD monitor and if they choose LCD give them the option of enabling cleartype? It annoyed the heck out of me when I installed IE7 and not only did all my web pages look like crap, but it also made my outlook e-mails look the same way. I disabled cleartype in the Internet options and made sure they are disabled in the OS using the powertoys, but that didn’t help, things still look fuzzy and messed up on both web pages and Outlook. I have another computer right next to this one without IE7 and things look fine. I’m going to reboot this box tonight and it that doesn’t fix it, I’m killing IE7 and will NEVER install it again. I was going to swtich back to IE from Deepnet Explorer since IE now has the features that I originally switched to DE for, but if MS is starting to shove this kind of crap down my throat I’ll stay with DE.

  153. Asela says:

    Well Personally I hate "ClearType in Internet Explorer 7" I tried IE 7 beta With some of the web sites i developed & it’s look really bad Specially when i view the small bold fonts with this ClearType settings…

    Well I love to use ClearType to view MS word Docs… It’s really good But for the web sites.. :-((

  154. Truelies says:

    Is it possible to disable the ClearType in IE7 in such a way? Registry key or something else…

    Any help is really appreciated!


  155. Valery Tolkov says:

    <i>If cleartype is tuned correctly, and your monitor is an LCD monitor with the right pixel order, the color fringing turns into higher horizontal resolution and is not visible AT ALL. If it is visible, you either need to get yourself a DVI connection to that monitor, or make sure that you’re actually running it at native resolution.</i>

    Too many IFs for turning it on by default, isn’t it?

  156. I used to have ClearType enabled on my system by default thus when I first installed Internet Explorer…

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