Apple's and Microsoft's font rendering

One of the things I noticed, as soon as I loaded up Safari for Windows, was how different the letters looked like. Obviously they felt awkward, but then my critical instinct fell in and I started asking myself if the font rendering method that Microsoft has been using for so long is really the best one.

According to the editor of the original article, the two different philosophies can be explained in this manner:

* Apple generally believes that the goal of the algorithm should be to preserve the design of the typeface as much as possible, even at the cost of a little bit of blurriness.
* Microsoft generally believes that the shape of each letter should be hammered into pixel boundaries to prevent blur and improve readability, even at the cost of not being true to the typeface.

When you work in web-design, like me, one of the things you notice while working under Windows, is the how similar small-sized fonts look like. If you try to increase their size, by very small values, the only difference you will notice is in the width and height of the letters, but not of the “trace” itself.

Even though their method does make the font smoother, and a bit easier to read on LCD screens, it doesn’t remain faithful to what the font should really look like. Given that our screens continue to get more pixels per inch with each passing year, the “blurryness” of Apple’s method becomes less relevant, because the blurry edges will become less noticeable depending on how many pixels per inch your screen has.

Apple’s method gives the text a “solid” feel. You can’t immediately distinguish it from the text you’d expect to see from an image text that had some smoothing filter applied to it. On the other hand, if you’re used to Windows, or Linux, you will find the contrast between the two methods harsh to accept. And it’s normal, because it’s what your eyes are used to.

I can’t really say which one is better, because special tests would need to be conducted in order to prove that, but right now I like Apple’s method the best, “fanboyism” aside.

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