Welcome to the blurry, but fast, browser…

People don’t believe me when I say Microsoft’s font rendering technology is better than Apple’s. At least they didn’t until now:

Jeff Atwood, of Coding Horror, shows the difference between IE and Safari running on Windows. Guess what, those fonts are the same on Macs too. I don’t like reading on the Mac as much as I like reading on Windows because of this.

Safari is fast, though, and has a UI that fits in with iTunes.

Oh, I’m in the Westin pool. Reading feeds in the pool is SSSOOO tough! Heheh.

Of course the blogosphere and professional journalist are going nuts about the new Safari over on TechMeme. Since they are going nuts about the pros and cons I’ll just sit back and enjoy sitting in the pool and let the pros argue it out.

Comments

  1. I personally find the fonts on Windows (or at least 2K and XP) to be quite poor compared to KDE on Linux. I know that for a long time fonts were horrible on Linux and Unix systems, but they have really improved in recent years.

  2. Ironically, Safari is performing better for me running under paralells than it is natively on OS X. And there are a lot of JS bugs that i’ve encountered when working with my own web sites…hell…maybe it’s just me.

    I agree with you about the rendering, i love mac, but i used to find reading blogs and articles easier at work on IE7.

  3. Ironically, Safari is performing better for me running under paralells than it is natively on OS X. And there are a lot of JS bugs that i’ve encountered when working with my own web sites…hell…maybe it’s just me.

    I agree with you about the rendering, i love mac, but i used to find reading blogs and articles easier at work on IE7.

  4. I personally find the fonts on Windows (or at least 2K and XP) to be quite poor compared to KDE on Linux. I know that for a long time fonts were horrible on Linux and Unix systems, but they have really improved in recent years.

  5. This isn’t about “better” (which Jeff acknowledges in his post). There is a philosophical difference between how Apple and Microsoft are approaching font rendering. Microsoft is optimizing for LCD readability, Apple is optimizing for font accuracy.

    I’ve done print typography using both Windows and a Mac and the way a font looks on the Mac screen is exactly how it’s going to look on the printed page. That is not true of Windows.

    In a perfect OS you could choose on an application by application basis how the font would be rendered, but as it is now there isn’t a “better” technology at work.

  6. This isn’t about “better” (which Jeff acknowledges in his post). There is a philosophical difference between how Apple and Microsoft are approaching font rendering. Microsoft is optimizing for LCD readability, Apple is optimizing for font accuracy.

    I’ve done print typography using both Windows and a Mac and the way a font looks on the Mac screen is exactly how it’s going to look on the printed page. That is not true of Windows.

    In a perfect OS you could choose on an application by application basis how the font would be rendered, but as it is now there isn’t a “better” technology at work.

  7. As we move more and more to “paperless” offices, rendering targetted at printers rather than screens seems shortsighed.

  8. As we move more and more to “paperless” offices, rendering targetted at printers rather than screens seems shortsighed.

  9. Jake: about 10% of people can’t use ClearType. I’ve looked at the fonts on the latest Linux’s and they aren’t even close to as nice as Windows — to my eyes.

  10. Jake: about 10% of people can’t use ClearType. I’ve looked at the fonts on the latest Linux’s and they aren’t even close to as nice as Windows — to my eyes.

  11. Brevin, that is Microsoft’s argument, and why they’ve developed fonts exclusively with LCD rendering in mind (Robert did that great Channel 9 video with the Cleartype team where they explain exactly that), but we are no where near the point where print typography is diminished in importance.

    I’d also like point out, just as a technical note, that OS X is doing MORE to affect than Cleartype does. OS X does sub-pixel rendering + antialiasing, whereas Cleartype is just sub-pixel rendering. In theory Apple could just do less and get the same (or at least similar) effect as Cleartype, but again, tha’s not their goal.

  12. Brevin, that is Microsoft’s argument, and why they’ve developed fonts exclusively with LCD rendering in mind (Robert did that great Channel 9 video with the Cleartype team where they explain exactly that), but we are no where near the point where print typography is diminished in importance.

    I’d also like point out, just as a technical note, that OS X is doing MORE to affect than Cleartype does. OS X does sub-pixel rendering + antialiasing, whereas Cleartype is just sub-pixel rendering. In theory Apple could just do less and get the same (or at least similar) effect as Cleartype, but again, tha’s not their goal.

  13. Really I think it’s just a personal choice. I like the Apple rendering much better myself, but I’m perfectly willing to agree to disagree with others.

    Now the resizable textarea is just cool.

  14. Really I think it’s just a personal choice. I like the Apple rendering much better myself, but I’m perfectly willing to agree to disagree with others.

    Now the resizable textarea is just cool.

  15. Nima, I agree that those that do lots printing should set their on-screen fonts to target the printer so one can see on screen exactly what the printer will print. So, if you’re printing brochures, magazines, newspaper, then sure, target the fonts for the printer.

    But 99% of users aren’t printing anything 99% of the time. So I’d say that the default font rendering by the OS should target the screen, while desktop publishing programs should override that default to target the printer.

    As for your technical note, I’ve read different things from different sources regarding the Cleartype technology, all of which have an agenda (those with pro-MS agenda saying that “it’s all that”, those with anti-MS agenda saying “it ain’t all that”). I don’t know your agenda, but I’d like to see an *objective* study regarding whether Apple’s font technology is more or less advanced than Cleartype.

  16. Nima, I agree that those that do lots printing should set their on-screen fonts to target the printer so one can see on screen exactly what the printer will print. So, if you’re printing brochures, magazines, newspaper, then sure, target the fonts for the printer.

    But 99% of users aren’t printing anything 99% of the time. So I’d say that the default font rendering by the OS should target the screen, while desktop publishing programs should override that default to target the printer.

    As for your technical note, I’ve read different things from different sources regarding the Cleartype technology, all of which have an agenda (those with pro-MS agenda saying that “it’s all that”, those with anti-MS agenda saying “it ain’t all that”). I don’t know your agenda, but I’d like to see an *objective* study regarding whether Apple’s font technology is more or less advanced than Cleartype.

  17. At least on OS X, I like the font smoothing better then on Windows. Much easier on my eyes.

    However, I wonder if Safari’s font smoothing is clashing with ClearType on Windows. It does seem too much.

  18. At least on OS X, I like the font smoothing better then on Windows. Much easier on my eyes.

    However, I wonder if Safari’s font smoothing is clashing with ClearType on Windows. It does seem too much.

  19. Hi

    Alt-Space-X and Alt-Space-R do not work to Maximize and Restore resepectively on the browser window
    :)

  20. Hi

    Alt-Space-X and Alt-Space-R do not work to Maximize and Restore resepectively on the browser window
    :)

  21. Robert: For GNOME I will say the fonts are ugly. They seem nicer in KDE. For Windows, I guess I am in the ten percent then. I have only really used Windows much on one moniter/video card so I suppose that could be the problem.

  22. Robert: For GNOME I will say the fonts are ugly. They seem nicer in KDE. For Windows, I guess I am in the ten percent then. I have only really used Windows much on one moniter/video card so I suppose that could be the problem.

  23. Actually, Apple has accomplished more than just releasing a fast browser, with significantly better standards support than IE, on Windows.

    This isn’t a simply a “port” of Safari to Windows, but the same Objective-C source code used in Mac OS X. Essentially, it’s a full blown Cocoa application running on Windows. The included runtime DLLs are the fabled Yellow Box for Windows.

    This would be the equivalent of Microsoft delivering a beta .NET application, such as Expression Studio, for Mac OS X.

  24. Actually, Apple has accomplished more than just releasing a fast browser, with significantly better standards support than IE, on Windows.

    This isn’t a simply a “port” of Safari to Windows, but the same Objective-C source code used in Mac OS X. Essentially, it’s a full blown Cocoa application running on Windows. The included runtime DLLs are the fabled Yellow Box for Windows.

    This would be the equivalent of Microsoft delivering a beta .NET application, such as Expression Studio, for Mac OS X.

  25. Scott: It would already be possible for this to happen with not too much effort. The Mono project has already had much success in running .NET server and client software under several Unices including OS X.

  26. Scott: It would already be possible for this to happen with not too much effort. The Mono project has already had much success in running .NET server and client software under several Unices including OS X.

  27. Interesting move by Apple. As an Apple concert and now fanboy, I have to ask why Apple would waste precious development resources on a Windows product. But the former Windows user says it’s a brilliant strategy to keep delivering dime bags of Apple tech to help in the migration over to the light side.

  28. Interesting move by Apple. As an Apple concert and now fanboy, I have to ask why Apple would waste precious development resources on a Windows product. But the former Windows user says it’s a brilliant strategy to keep delivering dime bags of Apple tech to help in the migration over to the light side.

  29. for once I agree with you totally. The fonts in Safari for Windows are awful, what in the world would posses a company to render fonts like that?

  30. >OS X does sub-pixel rendering + antialiasing, whereas Cleartype is just sub-pixel rendering.

    That’s exactly why I think OSX’s rendering looks better. The Apple approach also seems to be much closer to print output, which is a point that’s already been raised. But I don’t see how Cleartype looks better on an LCD, although maybe that’s a matter of taste.

  31. for once I agree with you totally. The fonts in Safari for Windows are awful, what in the world would posses a company to render fonts like that?

  32. >OS X does sub-pixel rendering + antialiasing, whereas Cleartype is just sub-pixel rendering.

    That’s exactly why I think OSX’s rendering looks better. The Apple approach also seems to be much closer to print output, which is a point that’s already been raised. But I don’t see how Cleartype looks better on an LCD, although maybe that’s a matter of taste.

  33. In the end it comes down to personal perferences, although I agree with many comments that the “medium” and “strong” settings are too much. IME playing with FF and Safari side-by-side under XP, sans serif fonts (like on your site) look better with ClearType but sans serif fonts look better under Safari’s “light smoothing” method. YMMV

  34. In the end it comes down to personal perferences, although I agree with many comments that the “medium” and “strong” settings are too much. IME playing with FF and Safari side-by-side under XP, sans serif fonts (like on your site) look better with ClearType but sans serif fonts look better under Safari’s “light smoothing” method. YMMV

  35. I will agree that the fonts look bad on Safari 3 (BETA) on Windows is that Apples fault maybe, maybe not, it is a BETA program, but as for fonts looking better in general on Windows I don’t think so. Cleartype always looks out of focus to me (on LCD or not), the first time I saw cleartype I thought something was wrong with my monitor.

  36. I will agree that the fonts look bad on Safari 3 (BETA) on Windows is that Apples fault maybe, maybe not, it is a BETA program, but as for fonts looking better in general on Windows I don’t think so. Cleartype always looks out of focus to me (on LCD or not), the first time I saw cleartype I thought something was wrong with my monitor.

  37. This has nothing to do with optimizing for print. Apple has chosen to display text typographically correct. It looks good and to me (being used to it) it is much more readable – especially when you read fast.

    Microsoft has some other idea that (in my opinion) distort the fonts and makes it harder to read fast. The spacing seems all wrong. And it loses the beauty.

    Both companies has probably used testing with their typical audience when making these choices and the results probably reflect the different preferences between a corporate IT-nerd and a graphical designer.

  38. This has nothing to do with optimizing for print. Apple has chosen to display text typographically correct. It looks good and to me (being used to it) it is much more readable – especially when you read fast.

    Microsoft has some other idea that (in my opinion) distort the fonts and makes it harder to read fast. The spacing seems all wrong. And it loses the beauty.

    Both companies has probably used testing with their typical audience when making these choices and the results probably reflect the different preferences between a corporate IT-nerd and a graphical designer.

  39. Robert – what kit are you using that allows you to blog from the pool? Not a laptop presumably…Would love to replicate but have never managed it….

  40. Robert – what kit are you using that allows you to blog from the pool? Not a laptop presumably…Would love to replicate but have never managed it….

  41. Ohh… This post just reminded me of the all-time best interview on Channel9: The one with Bill Hill of the Cleartype-team. He had some very cool comments on who/what they were designing apps., fonts etc. for: The OS called Human 1.0. :-)

    Think I’m gonna watch it again now.

  42. Ohh… This post just reminded me of the all-time best interview on Channel9: The one with Bill Hill of the Cleartype-team. He had some very cool comments on who/what they were designing apps., fonts etc. for: The OS called Human 1.0. :-)

    Think I’m gonna watch it again now.

  43. (apparently Safari for windows can’t handle international characters and blocks between the i and em html tags)

  44. @15
    So Windows Safari is running on YellowBox. Could that be the reason for the huge RAM that Windows Safari is eating up? According to posts I’ve seen on variious message boards (like digg and osnews), Safari uses anywhere from 2 to 5 times as much memory as IE, Firefox, and Opera. Even to the point of eating up to 150M for only a few tabs.

  45. @15
    So Windows Safari is running on YellowBox. Could that be the reason for the huge RAM that Windows Safari is eating up? According to posts I’ve seen on variious message boards (like digg and osnews), Safari uses anywhere from 2 to 5 times as much memory as IE, Firefox, and Opera. Even to the point of eating up to 150M for only a few tabs.

  46. I prefer Safari’s font rendering. I find it easier on the eyes than ClearType. I have a general penchant towards generic non-filtered subpixel font rendering.

    I have TFTs on my desk and am happier with how my fonts are displayed on Solaris (that’s pretty close to Safari) than how they were shown on Windows. That includes the new C-fonts with Vista/Office.

  47. I prefer Safari’s font rendering. I find it easier on the eyes than ClearType. I have a general penchant towards generic non-filtered subpixel font rendering.

    I have TFTs on my desk and am happier with how my fonts are displayed on Solaris (that’s pretty close to Safari) than how they were shown on Windows. That includes the new C-fonts with Vista/Office.

  48. Finally a browser for Windows that doesn’t render text to look like it was printed on a dot-matrix printer! I can’t believe how bad text looks in IE/FF for Windows.

  49. Finally a browser for Windows that doesn’t render text to look like it was printed on a dot-matrix printer! I can’t believe how bad text looks in IE/FF for Windows.

  50. I like that Westin. If you’re not already staying in one, go check out the suites just next to the main Hotel tower… beautiful. We stayed there when it was only weeks old.

    The hike up and down those roads are a PITA to the pools… gotta love the little hotel golf cart/shuttles though. You’re on vacation after all…

  51. I like that Westin. If you’re not already staying in one, go check out the suites just next to the main Hotel tower… beautiful. We stayed there when it was only weeks old.

    The hike up and down those roads are a PITA to the pools… gotta love the little hotel golf cart/shuttles though. You’re on vacation after all…

  52. Funny they should call it clear type when it is actually just the opposite.

    the first thing I discovered about anti aliasing of fonts was that it always looks better on high density displays where the width of a line used to form the character is more than just two or three pixels.

    The second thing I learned is that when you use a high density display the need for anti aliasing in the first place is much much less. Another case where the solution to the problem is best left up to the hardware guys not the OS guys.

  53. Funny they should call it clear type when it is actually just the opposite.

    the first thing I discovered about anti aliasing of fonts was that it always looks better on high density displays where the width of a line used to form the character is more than just two or three pixels.

    The second thing I learned is that when you use a high density display the need for anti aliasing in the first place is much much less. Another case where the solution to the problem is best left up to the hardware guys not the OS guys.

  54. Scoble, you might want to rename the title of your blog to remove the “but fast” part:
    ** Wired: Benchmarks Show Safari 3 Is Slower Than IE7, Firefox **
    http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2007/06/wired_news_benc.html

    Oh well, you never could trust performace claims that come out of Steve Jobs’ mouth. For years he cited dubious (i.e. fixed/rigged) tests showing Mac Photoshop to be faster than Windows Photoshop as a way of demonstrating PPC’s superiority over Intel. It was BS all along, and now Jobs tacitly admits as much by switching to Intel. This latest Safari claim is simply the latest in Jobs’ long history of bogus performance claims.

  55. Scoble, you might want to rename the title of your blog to remove the “but fast” part:
    ** Wired: Benchmarks Show Safari 3 Is Slower Than IE7, Firefox **
    http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2007/06/wired_news_benc.html

    Oh well, you never could trust performace claims that come out of Steve Jobs’ mouth. For years he cited dubious (i.e. fixed/rigged) tests showing Mac Photoshop to be faster than Windows Photoshop as a way of demonstrating PPC’s superiority over Intel. It was BS all along, and now Jobs tacitly admits as much by switching to Intel. This latest Safari claim is simply the latest in Jobs’ long history of bogus performance claims.

  56. Looks like Safari 3 (on Windows) has a lot more problems than fuzzy text:

    ArsTechnica cites stability problems (well, this is a beta), UI screw-ups, fuzzy text (yet again), and numerous security vulnerabilities (found within hours):
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070612-afirst-look-safari-3-on-windows.html

    Oh, and they have a great comparison regarding the font rendering.
    http://arstechnica.com/news.media/font_rendering.png
    The first pic is Safari, the second is Firefox, the third is IE.
    Sorry, but anyone that thinks Safari’s text is easier to read is not being objective at all.

    And here’s another article on Safari’s security issues (note that Apple claimed “Apple engineers designed Safari to be secure from day one”, which was just more PR bull).
    http://www.betanews.com/article/Day_One_for_Safari_for_Windows_Becomes_ZeroDay_Nightmare/1181661606

  57. Looks like Safari 3 (on Windows) has a lot more problems than fuzzy text:

    ArsTechnica cites stability problems (well, this is a beta), UI screw-ups, fuzzy text (yet again), and numerous security vulnerabilities (found within hours):
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070612-afirst-look-safari-3-on-windows.html

    Oh, and they have a great comparison regarding the font rendering.
    http://arstechnica.com/news.media/font_rendering.png
    The first pic is Safari, the second is Firefox, the third is IE.
    Sorry, but anyone that thinks Safari’s text is easier to read is not being objective at all.

    And here’s another article on Safari’s security issues (note that Apple claimed “Apple engineers designed Safari to be secure from day one”, which was just more PR bull).
    http://www.betanews.com/article/Day_One_for_Safari_for_Windows_Becomes_ZeroDay_Nightmare/1181661606

  58. Well, I would expect some bugs for a while. However, it’s working great on my bigco network with tons of web aps (better than FF actually).

    Robert, saw some interesting information on the font rendering issue. Check out this article on Coding Horror that describes the difference in the Apple and MS approach, and why it shows up so badly (I actually don’t understand why Apple doesn’t do it the Windows way on Windows, but it is not mine to reason why…)

    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000885.html

  59. Well, I would expect some bugs for a while. However, it’s working great on my bigco network with tons of web aps (better than FF actually).

    Robert, saw some interesting information on the font rendering issue. Check out this article on Coding Horror that describes the difference in the Apple and MS approach, and why it shows up so badly (I actually don’t understand why Apple doesn’t do it the Windows way on Windows, but it is not mine to reason why…)

    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000885.html

  60. I wrote: “This isn’t a simply a “port” of Safari to Windows, but the same Objective-C source code used in Mac OS X. Essentially, it’s a full blown Cocoa application running on Windows. The included runtime DLLs are the fabled Yellow Box for Windows.”

    After hanging out on the WebKit IRC channel, it seems that Safari on Windows is not using the same Objective-C code as Safari on Mac OS X.

    WebCore, which is the heart of the open-source rendering engine, is written in C++ and is relatively platform independent. WebCore is shared between Safari on Windows and Mac OS X, KHTML, the Nokia S60 and Adobe’s Apollo runtime.

    However, Webkit (The higher level interface to WebCore) is platform specific. The Windows port of Webcore provides similar functionality as WebKit on Mac OS X, but is implemented in C++, instead of Objective-C, and is exposed to applications as a COM object.

    As such, no Objective-C runtime is required.

    (takes foot out of mouth)

  61. I wrote: “This isn’t a simply a “port” of Safari to Windows, but the same Objective-C source code used in Mac OS X. Essentially, it’s a full blown Cocoa application running on Windows. The included runtime DLLs are the fabled Yellow Box for Windows.”

    After hanging out on the WebKit IRC channel, it seems that Safari on Windows is not using the same Objective-C code as Safari on Mac OS X.

    WebCore, which is the heart of the open-source rendering engine, is written in C++ and is relatively platform independent. WebCore is shared between Safari on Windows and Mac OS X, KHTML, the Nokia S60 and Adobe’s Apollo runtime.

    However, Webkit (The higher level interface to WebCore) is platform specific. The Windows port of Webcore provides similar functionality as WebKit on Mac OS X, but is implemented in C++, instead of Objective-C, and is exposed to applications as a COM object.

    As such, no Objective-C runtime is required.

    (takes foot out of mouth)

  62. David Balder wrote: ” Scoble, you might want to rename the title of your blog to remove the “but fast” part: ** Wired: Benchmarks Show Safari 3 Is Slower Than IE7, Firefox **”

    First off, this isn’t really a benchmark. It’s some guy loading pages while holding a stopwatch. Nor does Google serve the same content to each browser. As such, the results cannot be used to claim Safari will always be slower on DHTML or general browsing functions.

    Jobs actually used an industry standard web benchmarking tool to come up with his stats. You can download this benchmark and verify the results yourself.

    http://tinyurl.com/2mz422

    Second, I don’t see average page loads for each browser. If the test was only run a few times per page, it’s not accounting for bandwidth variations over time.

    Third, it’s only testing a specific set of pages. As you can see, Safari was faster on one particular page. Given a larger set of pages in different applications, Safari on Windows could have come out ahead.

    For example, Safari on Windows and Mac OS X clearly out performs IE7 and Firefox on the DHTML bubble mark when running on my system.

    http://bubblemark.com/dhtml.htm

    Safari Windows: 93fps
    Safari Mac OS X: 98fps
    IE7 (Windows): 62fps
    Firefox on Windows: 64fps
    Firefox on Mac OS X: 73fps

  63. David Balder wrote: ” Scoble, you might want to rename the title of your blog to remove the “but fast” part: ** Wired: Benchmarks Show Safari 3 Is Slower Than IE7, Firefox **”

    First off, this isn’t really a benchmark. It’s some guy loading pages while holding a stopwatch. Nor does Google serve the same content to each browser. As such, the results cannot be used to claim Safari will always be slower on DHTML or general browsing functions.

    Jobs actually used an industry standard web benchmarking tool to come up with his stats. You can download this benchmark and verify the results yourself.

    http://tinyurl.com/2mz422

    Second, I don’t see average page loads for each browser. If the test was only run a few times per page, it’s not accounting for bandwidth variations over time.

    Third, it’s only testing a specific set of pages. As you can see, Safari was faster on one particular page. Given a larger set of pages in different applications, Safari on Windows could have come out ahead.

    For example, Safari on Windows and Mac OS X clearly out performs IE7 and Firefox on the DHTML bubble mark when running on my system.

    http://bubblemark.com/dhtml.htm

    Safari Windows: 93fps
    Safari Mac OS X: 98fps
    IE7 (Windows): 62fps
    Firefox on Windows: 64fps
    Firefox on Mac OS X: 73fps

  64. @Suzy:

    All three (Safari/FF/IE) are perfectly readable. That’s not the point (unless your vision impaired, in which case accessibility options should be turned on). The point is which looks most pleasing to the eye.

    Those of us who like smoothly rendered text, like on a printed page, prefer Safari’s font smoothing. But if you like thinner but more jagged text (more similar to a dot-matrix printer), then obviously you prefer IE font rendering.

    @Scott:

    On a P4/2.26 running XP, I get 64 fps in Safari Windows and 36 fps in IE 6.

  65. @Suzy:

    All three (Safari/FF/IE) are perfectly readable. That’s not the point (unless your vision impaired, in which case accessibility options should be turned on). The point is which looks most pleasing to the eye.

    Those of us who like smoothly rendered text, like on a printed page, prefer Safari’s font smoothing. But if you like thinner but more jagged text (more similar to a dot-matrix printer), then obviously you prefer IE font rendering.

    @Scott:

    On a P4/2.26 running XP, I get 64 fps in Safari Windows and 36 fps in IE 6.

  66. @Scott:

    Interestingly, the Flex performance delta is even greater: 64 fps in IE (cached) vs. 139 fps in Safari Windows (cached). Silverlight in IE gets similar performance to Flex (50-60 fps…not sure whether it can be installed in Safari Windows).

    The inescapable conclusion is that IE (and to a lesser degree FF) are just plain slow for Web 2.0 stuff. Ironically, users stuck running web apps in IE will now find themselves just like Apple Powerbook G4 users did a couple years ago – running things at 50-70% of the speed of alternative environments (e.g., Pentium M). But at least the Powerbook users (or at least the ones not in denial) could argue that they were sacrificing speed for a completely different platform environment. The IE holdouts will be reduced to arguing about how important it is to have lighter, more jaggy fonts.

  67. @Scott:

    Interestingly, the Flex performance delta is even greater: 64 fps in IE (cached) vs. 139 fps in Safari Windows (cached). Silverlight in IE gets similar performance to Flex (50-60 fps…not sure whether it can be installed in Safari Windows).

    The inescapable conclusion is that IE (and to a lesser degree FF) are just plain slow for Web 2.0 stuff. Ironically, users stuck running web apps in IE will now find themselves just like Apple Powerbook G4 users did a couple years ago – running things at 50-70% of the speed of alternative environments (e.g., Pentium M). But at least the Powerbook users (or at least the ones not in denial) could argue that they were sacrificing speed for a completely different platform environment. The IE holdouts will be reduced to arguing about how important it is to have lighter, more jaggy fonts.

  68. MikeA: Firefox has the better fonts on Windows too and in my tests I can’t see that much of a difference between in and Safari. Firefox is WAY faster on Google Reader, though.

    IE can fix its speed problems, though. They are due to a poor garbage collector surrounding JavaScript and is due to a known issue that they didn’t have time to fix before IE7 got released.

  69. MikeA: Firefox has the better fonts on Windows too and in my tests I can’t see that much of a difference between in and Safari. Firefox is WAY faster on Google Reader, though.

    IE can fix its speed problems, though. They are due to a poor garbage collector surrounding JavaScript and is due to a known issue that they didn’t have time to fix before IE7 got released.

  70. Robert,

    If it’s just a garbage collector fix that hasn’t been installed yet, then why does FF display similar performance to IE (both in the benchmarks and the actual pages I’ve looked at)? Seems like it would be a strange coincidence.

    Incidentally, for a non-fanboy discussion of the font rendering that has by far the best analysis I have yet seen, go to this link:

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2007/06/12.html

    Mike

  71. Robert,

    If it’s just a garbage collector fix that hasn’t been installed yet, then why does FF display similar performance to IE (both in the benchmarks and the actual pages I’ve looked at)? Seems like it would be a strange coincidence.

    Incidentally, for a non-fanboy discussion of the font rendering that has by far the best analysis I have yet seen, go to this link:

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2007/06/12.html

    Mike

  72. I’d say that this is like the 720p thread all over again, but you’re not wrong in saying that Windows’ LCD font rendering is better than OS X’s, Robert… you’re wrong in saying either is better. They’re different. They have different goals, and each achieves their goal.

    Jake: about 10% of people can’t use ClearType.

    Really? 90% of computer users in the world are running Windows and own an LCD? That seems way high. Even if your population is defined as Windows users, I doubt that 90% of Windows users have LCDs.

  73. I’d say that this is like the 720p thread all over again, but you’re not wrong in saying that Windows’ LCD font rendering is better than OS X’s, Robert… you’re wrong in saying either is better. They’re different. They have different goals, and each achieves their goal.

    Jake: about 10% of people can’t use ClearType.

    Really? 90% of computer users in the world are running Windows and own an LCD? That seems way high. Even if your population is defined as Windows users, I doubt that 90% of Windows users have LCDs.

  74. Mark: you misunderstood me. I interviewed the inventor of ClearType. Video here: http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=5233

    He told me that in some percentage of people that when they look at type that’s been ClearTyped that they see fuzzy rings of color or bluriness or something other than what the rest of us see. I see sharper type when I turn on ClearType. I can’t use a computer that doesn’t have it on (it’s far harder for me to read type if that’s the case).

    Watch the video, he explains how it works.

  75. By the way, you don’t need an LCD to get utility from ClearType. I use it on my older monitors too and it looks great. It looks best on an LCD, though.

  76. Mark: you misunderstood me. I interviewed the inventor of ClearType. Video here: http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=5233

    He told me that in some percentage of people that when they look at type that’s been ClearTyped that they see fuzzy rings of color or bluriness or something other than what the rest of us see. I see sharper type when I turn on ClearType. I can’t use a computer that doesn’t have it on (it’s far harder for me to read type if that’s the case).

    Watch the video, he explains how it works.

  77. By the way, you don’t need an LCD to get utility from ClearType. I use it on my older monitors too and it looks great. It looks best on an LCD, though.

  78. Mike A: if you come over my house I’ll show you Google Reader running on both browsers and Firefox blows away IE 7 in performance. Not sure what tests you’re doing to compare the two, though.

  79. Mike A: if you come over my house I’ll show you Google Reader running on both browsers and Firefox blows away IE 7 in performance. Not sure what tests you’re doing to compare the two, though.

  80. Ah, yes I did.

    And I must be in that 10 percent! I can sometimes see the subpixels on an LCD if the DPI is low enough. But I still prefer it to anti-aliased text or plain text on Windows. I prefer the extra horizontal resolution, even though it does mess with the color.

    By the way, you don’t need an LCD to get utility from ClearType.

    Without an LCD it’s just anti-aliasing and font hinting. You probably like it because of the font hinting, which makes things sharper (but distorts letter forms). Look at Jeff Atwood’s IE7 example. You can’t even tell the “j” in “Jujusoft” has a hook to it… it looks like an elongated “i.” That’s because they gave the j a hard hook instead of a bend, and its hook is blending with the underline.

    But anyway, the main point here is that it’s an Apples to Oranges (or Microsofts) comparison. They aren’t competing — they have different goals.

    Apple: typographic integrity
    Microsoft: sharpness

    They each do a great job at achieving their respective goals.

  81. Ah, yes I did.

    And I must be in that 10 percent! I can sometimes see the subpixels on an LCD if the DPI is low enough. But I still prefer it to anti-aliased text or plain text on Windows. I prefer the extra horizontal resolution, even though it does mess with the color.

    By the way, you don’t need an LCD to get utility from ClearType.

    Without an LCD it’s just anti-aliasing and font hinting. You probably like it because of the font hinting, which makes things sharper (but distorts letter forms). Look at Jeff Atwood’s IE7 example. You can’t even tell the “j” in “Jujusoft” has a hook to it… it looks like an elongated “i.” That’s because they gave the j a hard hook instead of a bend, and its hook is blending with the underline.

    But anyway, the main point here is that it’s an Apples to Oranges (or Microsofts) comparison. They aren’t competing — they have different goals.

    Apple: typographic integrity
    Microsoft: sharpness

    They each do a great job at achieving their respective goals.

  82. I’m in the readability camp. I think when people see the two philosophies on the same screen all becomes clear.

    I haven’t used a printer in years, so why would I care about typographic integrity?

  83. I’m in the readability camp. I think when people see the two philosophies on the same screen all becomes clear.

    I haven’t used a printer in years, so why would I care about typographic integrity?

  84. Some people are bothered more by the jerky spacing and letter malformation than by the blurriness, even if they don’t have printing in mind.

    The ultimate solution to these issues is resolution independent OSes (Leopard is rumored to have that), and super high resolution digital displays. At 600 DPI you can have both sharpness and letterform preservation, and then Apple and Microsoft can start competing for the same prize.

    We won’t have anyone bothering to make those displays until operating systems can scale their GUIs to make them usable. I’m sure you’ve come across people with even a low DPI LCD who run their OS at a non-native resolution because “everything is too small otherwise.” Without resolution independence, DPI increases are lost on such people.

  85. Some people are bothered more by the jerky spacing and letter malformation than by the blurriness, even if they don’t have printing in mind.

    The ultimate solution to these issues is resolution independent OSes (Leopard is rumored to have that), and super high resolution digital displays. At 600 DPI you can have both sharpness and letterform preservation, and then Apple and Microsoft can start competing for the same prize.

    We won’t have anyone bothering to make those displays until operating systems can scale their GUIs to make them usable. I’m sure you’ve come across people with even a low DPI LCD who run their OS at a non-native resolution because “everything is too small otherwise.” Without resolution independence, DPI increases are lost on such people.

  86. I use both vista and tiger daily.

    This is totally subjective dependent on the font chosen and on screen resolution. It only even looks this close on blocky san-serif “western” fonts.

    Once you get off cheap crappy low resolution/dpi monitors, the true letter forms look soooo much better then the distorted pixely garbage windows pushes out. Pick any font other then arial/verdana/tahoma and you will be blown away at the difference.

    At these low crappy resolutions, check out any font with serifs or other accents and tell me which looks better. wow. They look so much better when rendered correct to their intended hintings and forms like apple does. Check out small times new roman samples etc. Only with boxy arial like fonts does the boxy distorted rendering looks like it is crisper….yeah ms!

    Not to mention the western centric view here, Asian and Arabic fonts are almost unusable in the windows pixel distortion method, really ugly, but very clear and sharp when rendered true to letter form. Completely usable and beautiful.

    I find it humorious that this discussion is even occurring at this juncture in technology. Almost akin to which fonts look better on a dot matrix printer…really you’d rather not see dots at all…but if you are still on a crappy printer you talk about things like this in this way.

  87. I use both vista and tiger daily.

    This is totally subjective dependent on the font chosen and on screen resolution. It only even looks this close on blocky san-serif “western” fonts.

    Once you get off cheap crappy low resolution/dpi monitors, the true letter forms look soooo much better then the distorted pixely garbage windows pushes out. Pick any font other then arial/verdana/tahoma and you will be blown away at the difference.

    At these low crappy resolutions, check out any font with serifs or other accents and tell me which looks better. wow. They look so much better when rendered correct to their intended hintings and forms like apple does. Check out small times new roman samples etc. Only with boxy arial like fonts does the boxy distorted rendering looks like it is crisper….yeah ms!

    Not to mention the western centric view here, Asian and Arabic fonts are almost unusable in the windows pixel distortion method, really ugly, but very clear and sharp when rendered true to letter form. Completely usable and beautiful.

    I find it humorious that this discussion is even occurring at this juncture in technology. Almost akin to which fonts look better on a dot matrix printer…really you’d rather not see dots at all…but if you are still on a crappy printer you talk about things like this in this way.

  88. Most fonts contain specific hinting for these pixel sizes, that cannot be used when you distort the letter shapes for the sake of flipping pixels. You lose the ability to read word forms also know as “word shapes” at a glance significantly reducing reading speed and increasing reading fatigue.

    Hopefully no one here is still reading individual letters…that is kindergarten level reading. Once you get past that you read word forms. Font designers know all about this, average computer users may be confused my single letter legibility, vs real readability.

    Even MS knows this, despite optimizing their technology for the opposite to “better accommodate” low resolution displays.

    ttp://www.microsoft.com/typography/ctfonts/WordRecognition.aspx

  89. Most fonts contain specific hinting for these pixel sizes, that cannot be used when you distort the letter shapes for the sake of flipping pixels. You lose the ability to read word forms also know as “word shapes” at a glance significantly reducing reading speed and increasing reading fatigue.

    Hopefully no one here is still reading individual letters…that is kindergarten level reading. Once you get past that you read word forms. Font designers know all about this, average computer users may be confused my single letter legibility, vs real readability.

    Even MS knows this, despite optimizing their technology for the opposite to “better accommodate” low resolution displays.

    ttp://www.microsoft.com/typography/ctfonts/WordRecognition.aspx

  90. 1) Theoretical perfection or not, I hate the Safari fonts on my Windows LCD.

    2) Why can’t they just give us a
    “none” option for Font Smoothing?

    3) Every other app on my Windows machine looks one way, and Safari screens look different. That’s wrong.

  91. 1) Theoretical perfection or not, I hate the Safari fonts on my Windows LCD.

    2) Why can’t they just give us a
    “none” option for Font Smoothing?

    3) Every other app on my Windows machine looks one way, and Safari screens look different. That’s wrong.

  92. 1) Some people like it. It really depends on how long you’ve been exposed to Safari/OS X’s font rendering. If you’ve been using Windows since day one and have rarely or never been exposed to OS X, there’s 95% chance YOU WILL HATE IT.

    2) By this it’s safe to conclude that you don’t even turn on Cleartype on your Windows. Which makes your statement in #1 quite understandable.

    3) Wrong to you perhaps, but revolutionary to others. I was afraid that an Apple web browser for Windows would turn out the exact same way as Firefox. I was overjoyed to find out it mimics OS X instead.

  93. 1) Some people like it. It really depends on how long you’ve been exposed to Safari/OS X’s font rendering. If you’ve been using Windows since day one and have rarely or never been exposed to OS X, there’s 95% chance YOU WILL HATE IT.

    2) By this it’s safe to conclude that you don’t even turn on Cleartype on your Windows. Which makes your statement in #1 quite understandable.

    3) Wrong to you perhaps, but revolutionary to others. I was afraid that an Apple web browser for Windows would turn out the exact same way as Firefox. I was overjoyed to find out it mimics OS X instead.

  94. I have searched quite extensively for an answer to this question -
    Whilst Windows 9x and up has basic font smoothing technology built in
    following service release 1 for Win95, the closest anyone has come to
    developing their own proprietory software is GRC (as mentioned above)

  95. I have searched quite extensively for an answer to this question -
    Whilst Windows 9x and up has basic font smoothing technology built in
    following service release 1 for Win95, the closest anyone has come to
    developing their own proprietory software is GRC (as mentioned above)

  96. I keep hearing this silly argument about how OS X fonts are optimized for desktop publishing (i.e. what you see on screen is exactly how it will be printed).

    But this is just a bogus misdirection and invalid argument. Desktop application is free to render fonts on display differently than any other application and it could render them as they will actually be printed, same as photoshop can render pictures on screen as they will be printed on paper (even matching paper’s color profile).

    However, every other application’s goal should be to optimize its font rendering for on-screen viewing.

    What does browsing this web page and reading comments is blurry fonts have to do with desktop publishing. Web browser is not a desktop publishing application. Here I care about how things look on screen not how the web page will print.

    Anyway, I think you get the point.

  97. I keep hearing this silly argument about how OS X fonts are optimized for desktop publishing (i.e. what you see on screen is exactly how it will be printed).

    But this is just a bogus misdirection and invalid argument. Desktop application is free to render fonts on display differently than any other application and it could render them as they will actually be printed, same as photoshop can render pictures on screen as they will be printed on paper (even matching paper’s color profile).

    However, every other application’s goal should be to optimize its font rendering for on-screen viewing.

    What does browsing this web page and reading comments is blurry fonts have to do with desktop publishing. Web browser is not a desktop publishing application. Here I care about how things look on screen not how the web page will print.

    Anyway, I think you get the point.

  98. Josh, most screens have resolution from 72 to 101 DPI (which is still a lot less than the 600 DPI resolution of even the cheapest laser printers).

    I currently run my windows and macs on 101 DPI screens, and the font rendering is still a lot better on windows (with Clear Type fine tuned to my liking). As a matter of fact there is no comparison at all.

    Majority of people also don’t know that Clear type exists and those that do, don’t know that there is a way to fune tune its contrast to suit your preference. Once you do that, anything else becomes unusable.

    Clear type playing with the brightness of the individual Red Green and Blue LCD pixels involved in the font rendering to increase the contrast of the rendered font and to effectively triple the resolution available to the font. On 100 DPI screen that means you can have fonts that look as good (or as bad) as printouts from 300 DPI laser printer. This is still considered pretty bad resolution. I would not print my resume on anything less than 1600 DPI.

    So, I don’t know of any screen (Apple cinema displays are 101.6 DPI) that has resolution higher than 130 DPI. So we are a long way off from the 600 DPI needed to make font rendering issue disappear.

    Until then we will need some clever software techniques to improve things. Microsoft has offered the best solution on the market to date, and others can follow or improve further. But just denying that the problem exists is not a way towards progress in any case.

  99. Josh, most screens have resolution from 72 to 101 DPI (which is still a lot less than the 600 DPI resolution of even the cheapest laser printers).

    I currently run my windows and macs on 101 DPI screens, and the font rendering is still a lot better on windows (with Clear Type fine tuned to my liking). As a matter of fact there is no comparison at all.

    Majority of people also don’t know that Clear type exists and those that do, don’t know that there is a way to fune tune its contrast to suit your preference. Once you do that, anything else becomes unusable.

    Clear type playing with the brightness of the individual Red Green and Blue LCD pixels involved in the font rendering to increase the contrast of the rendered font and to effectively triple the resolution available to the font. On 100 DPI screen that means you can have fonts that look as good (or as bad) as printouts from 300 DPI laser printer. This is still considered pretty bad resolution. I would not print my resume on anything less than 1600 DPI.

    So, I don’t know of any screen (Apple cinema displays are 101.6 DPI) that has resolution higher than 130 DPI. So we are a long way off from the 600 DPI needed to make font rendering issue disappear.

    Until then we will need some clever software techniques to improve things. Microsoft has offered the best solution on the market to date, and others can follow or improve further. But just denying that the problem exists is not a way towards progress in any case.