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Displays Graphics Windows Hardware

Windows 8 Has Scaling Issues On High-PPI Displays 171

Posted by timothy
from the to-be-fair-there's-not-much-room-there dept.
crookedvulture writes "High-PPI displays are becoming increasingly popular on tablets and notebooks, but Windows 8 may not be ready for them. On a 13" notebook display with a 1080p resolution, the RTM version of Win8 scales up some desktop UI elements nicely. However, there are serious issues with Metro, which produces tiles and text that are either too small or too large depending on the PPI setting used. That setting, by the way, is a simple on/off switch that tells the OS to 'make everything bigger.' Web browsing is particularly problematic, with Internet Explorer 10 introducing ugly rendering artifacts when scaling pages in both Metro and desktop modes. Clearly, there's work to be done on the OS side to properly support higher pixel densities."
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Windows 8 Has Scaling Issues On High-PPI Displays

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  • To be fair (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @02:53PM (#41467163)

    This is not a Windows issue but rather the way that developers support High DPI in their apps.

    Way too many developers are still using MFC and Win32 for UI development, which has no concept of High-DPI and requires scaling to be done manually. If the app doesn't even poll for the current DPI of the OS then nothing is going to scale correctly using those antiquated API's.

    WPF automatically adjusts controls to the DPI settings of the OS, however if you don't use vector paths to render UI elements you might see an ugly bitmap stretch here and there. Haven't fully investigated Windows RT (the framework, not the tablet), but I am sure DPI awareness is also a fundamental part of its presentation framework. If a developer throws a 16x16 icon into an app resource, you are going to get and ugly scale.

    When it comes to web pages then its anyone's guess how the web designer will support high DPI. Web pages are still mostly a bunch of static jpg's so scaling up something that looks like a line on regular DPI settings, only to see it smear and blur into a bar as shown in the article is purely the fault of the web page designer.

    I do agree that as a whole Microsoft needs to do a little better job supporting High DPI across their API's, but most of what this article mentions comes from poor app/web design more then anything.

  • Re:To be fair (Score:3, Informative)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @02:58PM (#41467235) Journal

    It is up to the web browser. The only thing the web master should do is put a CSS if it is a mobile screen to take away some complexity or change the dimensions of the text for readability.

    The web browser is what takes care of integrating the images with the operating system and rendering them on screen. Windows 8 supports high DPI but I am fairly shocked IE 10 which is an excellent browser contrary to past releases of IE does not fully support it. IE 10 needs to be patched asap as it is used in Windows 8 mobile as well where phones have bizaare resolutions and DPI combos.

  • Re:Wha...? (Score:5, Informative)

    by JDG1980 (2438906) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:11PM (#41467403)

    That's the catch here, we've designed for a single pixel to take up a certain fraction of your personal field of view, suddenly higher density displays come along, to which we initially ask, why, was there something wrong with the old pixel densities?

    Yes, there was. The existing low-density displays require ugly (and often patented) hacks like hinting and subpixel rendering to display fonts at normal point sizes. When the pixel density is increased enough, this all becomes unnecessary. And it looks a lot better when it's done right. Have you ever tried using the new iPad? To me, it was a revelation: with a web page or PDF fully zoomed out, the letters were still incredibly sharp and clear, with none of the usual "cloudiness" that results from standard anti-aliasing techniques.

    ClearType on Windows is very nice, but it's still just a hack compared to real high-DPI display. I am looking forward to cheap 4K TVs in smaller sizes (32" or so) so that I can use one of them as a desktop monitor. We've been held back by repurposed 1080p HDTV panels for too long.

  • by PRMan (959735) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:27PM (#41467707)

    What's strange is: my work just bought me an Asus Zenbook Prime and I'm running 150% on it (I nuked the OS to get rid of the crapware and to be able to log on to the domain, so I've actually never seen it stock). I can scale web pages easily by doing a pinch-zoom on the touchpad and they look terrific, including images. (I mean, sure, the images ARE scaled up, which never looks 100% perfect, but it's just not that noticeable, and doesn't look anything the article.)

    What they may be noticing is ASUS Splendid Video Enhancement Technology [asus.com] which is turned on by default (I'm told, I didn't install it after reading that people were trying frantically to get rid of it). Basically, it's supposed to "fix" your graphics so they look "more lifelike". But I've seen cases where people report that web graphics were getting very blurred by it, exactly like what the article is showing.

    After using 150% and browser scaling for the past week, I've been pleasantly surprised by just how "arrived" high-DPI scaling was in Windows 7. I really didn't think it would work, but it's terrific so far, with ultra-readable text that's incredibly easy on the eyes and looks just as good as Apple's Retina displays.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @04:48PM (#41469173)

    What we need is a better standard than SVG for static vector images.

    In what ways does SVG fall short? It's a widely supported open standard, which does pretty much everything you need for 2D vector graphics. It can even be tweaked by hand, since it's XML-based. (I've done a couple of simple SVGs entirely in Notepad.)

    Well, and significantly improved tools for producing them.

    Adobe Illustrator has supported both import and export of SVG files for some time. And while Inkscape is far from perfect, it's a workable free solution for most non-professional users. Are there other, better vector editing tools that don't allow the creation of SVGs?

  • Re:Wha...? (Score:4, Informative)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <<slashdot> <at> <worf.net>> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @04:56PM (#41469263)

    Apple has just been careful to hide the problem by not shipping any hardware that exposes it. Their own high-dpi displays were carefully chosen to be exact multiples of the traditional resolution, so that they could scale things with pixel doubling.

    But as soon as you get outside of that little box, and ask OSX to do 125% or 150% scaling of pretty much anything and you get the same mess.

    Perhaps, perhaps not.

    Have you seen the Retina MacBook Pro running at a scaled mode? You have a variety of settings - from the 2x 1440x900 mode to the decidedly non-integral 1920x1200 mode.

    And 1920x1200 is, despite not being a nice integral factor of the native resolutoin, looks practically native. As in, no scaling artifacts.

    What happens is that internally, OS X creates a double height frame buffer - 3840x2400, renders to that "retina style" 2x mode, then runs a scaler (custom-designed by Apple so both the 650M and Intel 4000 scale it identically) to bring it back down to 2880x1800. And the results are DAMN good - you can't tell, other than the fact that the GPU is now too underpowered to do 60fps.

    And this is 150% scaling (1920x1200 -> 2880x1800), and looks awesome - you definitely don't get the "non-native resolution" crap you see on other displays.

    OTOH, the low end mode, I think there's one where it runs at something like 1366x768 or so. It looks awful because even in 2x mode, the virtual framebuffer is smaller than the screen resolution, leading to the hardware having to scale the image up again.

    But going from logical 1440x900 to 1920x1200 on the same 2880x1800 panel? Looks damn nice for a 150% scale up.

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