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Why it matters: ClearType is a software solution conceived by Microsoft to improve text readability on Windows-based PCs and LCDs. The technology is designed to make text on a display look almost as sharp and clear as printed paper, but interoperable browser libraries can interfere with this kind of platform-specific optimization.

The next version of Chrome (124) is expected to offer improved text rendering on Windows PCs. Microsoft programmers have been working for years to integrate a ClearType feature into the “insular,” platform-agnostic text renderer developed by Google for the Chromium project. Now, the code is nearly ready to be shipped to Chrome and other Chromium-based web browsers.

Microsoft’s Edge team began working on it in 2021 with the goal of enhancing contrast and gamma correction in web rendering. This effort aims to ensure that the Chromium layout engine can match the quality seen in other native Windows applications. According to Microsoft, “legacy” non-Chromium Edge versions and Windows programs use DirectWrite to render glyphs to the screen, thus benefiting from system-wide user settings related to ClearType font technology.

Chromium utilizes DirectWrite for specific parts of the text rendering process, while the Skia graphics library handles the final composition of glyph bitmaps on the screen. Although Skia allows for easy code reuse across different platforms, its visual results on Windows often differ from the rest of the text rendering experience on the system.

Chrome is getting better text rendering in Windows thanks to Microsoft engineers

Microsoft programmers have been busy integrating the Windows ClearType Text Tuner feature into Chromium, which is designed to properly select users’ custom contrast and gamma values through DirectWrite. The new Chrome feature will apply these custom values to Skia text rendering, ensuring that Windows preferences for text rendering are respected by Chromium browsers running on Windows PCs.

According to Microsoft developers, the lack of support for text rendering adjustments has been a long-standing complaint among users of Chromium-based browsers. The Redmond giant initially planned to enable the text improvement option by default in version 92 of the non-legacy Edge browser, but it has yet to activate the feature in the recently released Edge 123.

After adopting Chromium as the layout engine for Edge, Microsoft expressed its commitment to enhancing Chromium as a web rendering technology for Windows OSes. The upcoming improvements to Skia text rendering demonstrate that the company is keeping its promise.

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