blog high ppi support in windows 8 1 still not so great

High-PPI support in Windows 8.1: still not so great

Displays with high pixel densities are pretty much standard in tablets, and we’re all waiting for them to become standard in notebooks. Take a trip to your local Best Buy, though, and chances are a majority of systems in the laptop aisle will have 1366×768 panels—even large notebooks that really have no business with a display resolution that low.

It’s a sad state of affairs. If Google can serve up two megapixels in a $229 tablet, then why can’t PC makers do the same in $800 ultrabooks? Why isn’t 1080p the new standard by now? And why aren’t truly high-PPI screens (think 2560×1440 or more) widely available for those who don’t mind paying a premium?

I’m sure costs and margins partly explain why PC makers continue to ride the 1366×768 gravy train. As I discovered recently, however, there’s another, even more infuriating hurdle on the path to high-PPI nirvana.

You see, high-PPI support in Windows still kinda sucks.

Behold exhibit A: the Zenbook Prime UX31A from Asus. This is an Ivy Bridge-powered ultrabook with a 13.3", 1920×1080 IPS panel. It’s already more than a year old, and there’s nothing all that remarkable about it. Last month, I dug it out from my pile of review samples, loaded it up with Windows 8.1, and took it to AMD’s APU13 conference in San Jose, California. There, I used it as my primary computer for about four days.

Windows 8.1 did a great job of recognizing the Zenbook Prime’s display as a high-PPI one, and it scaled the user interface accordingly right away. Default applications like the File Explorer looked crisp and clean, with readable text and correctly sized widgets. I couldn’t really fault Microsoft there; they clearly seemed to have done their part.

Things got ugly once I started installing third-party apps, though. Here’s what Google Chrome looked like at the default scaling setting:

Total blurry mess. For reference, here’s Chrome next to a File Explorer window that’s scaled properly. Note the difference in font sharpness:

It’s not just Chrome’s user interface that was scaled up and blurred. The whole application was blurred—even web pages. I tried switching to the Chrome beta channel, even toggling an obscure high-PPI switch in the hidden "chrome://flags" settings to enable high-PPI support, but nothing helped. The beta looked no better, and the obscure toggle ("HiDPI Support," in case you’re wondering) just made everything broken and ugly.

I encountered the same blurriness in other third-party apps: iTunes, 7-Zip, and Sublime Text 2, my favorite text editor. They all scaled up to the right size, but without making proper use of the extra pixels available. The result was invariably atrocious. Looking at blurred fonts all day is a recipe for headaches.

Now, a few third-party applications did handle themselves better. Here’s Firefox, for instance:

Mozilla’s browser at least understood that it was running on a high-PPI system, and it scaled page contents and UI fonts sans blur. As you can see above, however, the UI widgets didn’t quite look right. The icons were blurry, and the Firefox menu was full of giant black arrows for some reason. Don’t get me wrong; this was still worlds better than Chrome. But it was hardly the kind of experience you’d expect from a premium ultrabook with a fancy screen.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have apps like Photoshop that pretty much ignore Windows’ PPI settings altogether. Here’s Photoshop CS6 and Word running side by side; Word scales correctly, while Photoshop doesn’t:

I couldn’t track down a fix for Adobe’s negligence. I did, however, find out how to get rid of the blur in apps like Chrome: right click on the application shortcut, go to Properties, find the compatibility settings tab, and tick "Disable display scaling on high DPI settings." Boom! All better. Except, not really. Ticking that checkbox means UI widgets stay the same size at any scaling level, and fonts may or may not scale up as needed. In Chrome’s case, that means tiny buttons, big text labels, and illegibly small fonts on web pages. You have to raise Chrome’s default page zoom to 125% in order to make the web readable.

There is a simpler alternative to enabling that compatibility setting for half your apps. In Windows’ Display control panel, ticking "Let me choose one scaling level for all my displays" will restore the legacy scaling from previous Windows releases. That means no blur, but also no improvement over the per-app compatibility setting. Fonts and UI widgets are still sized inconsistently, and in apps like Chrome and Sublime Text, you still have to scale page or document contents manually.

So, yeah. Running Windows on a notebook with a high-PPI screen is an exercise in frustration right now. With the Zenbook Prime, I sometimes wished that I had a 1366×768 screen—not because I didn’t enjoy the extra pixel density in software that supported it, but because I just wanted everything else to look right. And no matter how much I tinkered, some things never did look quite right.

Now, can you imagine a technically illiterate user grappling with these same problems? Yikes. No wonder HP, Dell, & co. aren’t tripping over themselves to sell you high-PPI notebooks. The software support just isn’t mature enough yet.

If PC makers aren’t going to take the first step, then Microsoft needs to reach out to developers and make sure Windows software is ready for high-PPI screens. We’re not talking about cleaning the Augean stables here. Apple has already pulled off something quite similar. There was a rough transition period after Retina MacBooks came out a couple of years back, but high-PPI support in OS X and Mac software has improved dramatically since then. Today, laptops like the $1,299 MacBook Pro with Retina display are very compelling, partly because they offer a high-PPI experience that Windows just can’t match.

Microsoft, I know you’re all about tablets right now—but if you want to make Windows notebooks sexy again (and goodness knows they need it), then fixing high-PPI support should be high on your list of priorities. If this doesn’t get done, my next laptop might just have an Apple logo on it.

0 responses to “High-PPI support in Windows 8.1: still not so great

  1. Really don’t want Microsoft depreciating things right now given where their head is. Can only imagine all Windows applications being in the Modern UI/API model of things and really don’t want to see that made reality.

    “Make Metro or go home, you shall make nothing but Metro!”

    Nothing would drive Linux adoption more readily than that, so I doubt it’d even work out for MS.

  2. This why I said half jokingly to not use Chrome but sadly I incurred the wrath of the Droid Army.

  3. I’m typing this right now on a Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro. 3800×1800. 14″ screen.
    IE looks great, chrome doesn’t.

    That isn’t what bothers me though, it’s that I CANNOT run RDP in the default resolution without changing the screen resolution. It’s unusable.

    Why can’t MS at least offer a fake 2:1 scaling for RDP windows?

  4. This link is to a PDF i’ve shared on Google doc’s outlining the fix I came up with for “blurry” Google Chrome on high PPI displays.


  5. Indeed, Microsoft has the proper scaling built in. Third party developers have to update with support for it though instead of using the old methods.

  6. I can’t argue with the observation that “…people are also ‘used’ to them switching stuff and breaking swarths of stuff…” but I would respectfully disagree that “…for a general consumer, Apple’s approach is far better…”. As a general rule, a consumer is far better off when whatever it is that they’ve paid for actually works, be it a snow blower or software.

    Planned obsolescence is designed expressly to promote a “consumerist” mentality of “old = bad & broken” & “new = good & fully functional”. In a holistic sense of broad-view economics, the care & feeding of an individual’s mindset to become insistent upon acquiring the latest & greatest “It D’jour” benefits no one & nothing other than that which is tied directly to a corporate P&L statement.

    And FWIW, a business philosophy that incorporates long-term product/customer support is far more supportive of the notion that “It Just Works” than is an approach that essentially states “It Just Works …(until it doesn’t so be ready to buy a new one)!

    HO HO HO Y’all!

  7. I thought the most common compliant was that sometimes that handsome and witty SSK wasn’t online?

  8. yes, if we all immediately dived headfirst into new technology that offered a horrible user experience, then you could expect a better user experience.

    Because that’s how economics works in Microsoft/ Windows 8/ Kinnect/ Xbone land where Microsoft isn’t actually responsible for user experience on any of their products.

  9. # of times “Chrome” appears in the text: 10
    # of times “Windows 8” appears in the text: 2

    The issue here isn’t about Windows at all.

  10. What would be the ideal? I’m not sure I know a way for them to handle applications that won’t rescale or resize, both of which are completely possible to do in Win32 API (see Steam for a poster child). The OS literally only has two options in that case… keep 1:1 pixels and get a tiny window or upscale it and end up with something “blurry”. If scaling is at 200% though, it’s just pixel doubling so it’s no worse than a low-dpi screen of the same dimensions really. And if you would prefer the former option, you can always disable DPI scaling on an application by application basis.

    I’m not super-familiar with the Apple solution, but it’s not that dissimilar to the 200% scaling thing in Windows is it? With the few games I’ve tried in MacOS it definitely was just claiming to be a 1440×900 screen or whatever and scaling (“blurring”) the game output up to the native resolution. Apple obviously has updated the core applications, but so as Microsoft as far as I can tell. As far as 3rd party stuff goes, perhaps it’s just that there’s less legacy stuff in use on OSX than Windows right now?

    So while I agree the situation is crappy, I really don’t know what Microsoft can do about it at this point. Applications have always had the flexibility to constrain their windows to exact pixel sizes and thus if they don’t handle scaling properly, it’s just not going to be good. If you have any great solutions I’m sure Microsoft would be happy to hear them, but you have to realize they are at the mercy of the technical flexibility that applications have demanded and (ab)used for the past decade here.

  11. 2560×1440 isn’t high PPI if it’s a 27″ monitor.

    Also, running the Clear Type wizard will ruin the font sharpness versus running the native resolution without using the wizard. I learned this the hard way and even searched for a way to revert the Clear Type wizard changes and there wasn’t a way so I had to reinstall.

  12. Oh, and as far as programs that do not scale well, my assumption has been that Microsoft gave developers too much rope and they hung themselves with it.

    Developers like Adobe want that custom “look and feel” to separate themselves from a Microsoft program/app so they customize beyond reason. Then when technology marches on, the UIs of these programs start to fall apart resulting in a near requirement for a massive re-do of the UI at a great expense. They choose to leave it the heck alone and let the end user deal with it instead.

  13. I really don’t understand the negative points. Perhaps it is a Windows 7 thing that this actually works? I run Chrome and it is as sharp as a tack on my 2560×1440 display. I only went through the Clear Type wizard to clear it up. Scaling also seems to work fine with no blurriness.

    Oh wait, 125% is the only one that looks a bit poor. Others look OK.

  14. Isn’t literally the most common complaint on TR that there aren’t enough high resolution desktop monitors available? I’d bet that there are only a handful of forum members here who run displays with a higher resolution than 1080/1200p. And 1200p on a 24″ LCD is far, far from ‘retina’ class.

  15. The Photoshop UI looks like it might even be a custom renderer. Sort of thing Adobe would do. This post might as well complain to Microsoft that the UI in games doesn’t scale correctly.

    Chrome also does loads of crazy stuff and is definitely not a good example of a application that follows Native Windows UI guidelines.

  16. Arguably, we are victims of our own complaints. Some of the Windows stuff looks great, in particular things developed by Microsoft directly. However, expecting a developer to spend funds developing fixes for old software to look better on an OS that is still growing market share more slowly than its predecessor might be a little much.

    I’m not saying Microsoft is blameless, or that their job is done; multimonitor (read more than two) support is still suspect at best, and its an utter crapshoot which overlay you will get (Modern or desktop version) when an app is launched from the desktop. However, we can’t have our cake and eat it too; as long as consumers shun, or at least hesitate to embrace, the new Windows expect devs to do the same.

  17. Ding ding ding, we have a winner! Most applications still size text based on font point size, not something more useful like relative screen height since that’s effort and it wouldn’t help legacy applications anyway. I have a 24″ monitor and even at 1440×900 text is sometimes hard to make out, especially in games which don’t care at all what your Windows settings are and usually don’t have any kind of UI adjustment other than display resolution.

    Mobile developers are lazy too but there’s two key differences: devs usually do several layouts because of the huge disparity in screen size, and mobile has been high density almost since the beginning. Cheap tablets and the crappy early iPhones were still close to 200 ppi, twice that of nearly all consumer . Heck, even the legendary 4K monitor, at 27-30 inches, only scores a mediocre ~150 ppi.

  18. I agree; I’m just trying to explain why OS X devs seem to be better motivated than Windows devs to adapt their apps to a high DPI display.

  19. Apple offers non-integer scaling for effective display resolutions. I run my 13″ rMBP at 1680×1050; not the 1280×800 pixel doubled resolution.

  20. It seems at least in some cases the size of the monitor is reported (maybe EDID?).

    For example, in HWINFO ( on my laptop monitor I get the screen size reported in millimeters. Haven’t checked it elsewhere.

    I don’t know what OSes do with that info, if anything.

  21. If you’ve used the surface pro 2, the digitizer makes win 8 feel so flipping good. I really do anticipate a 15″ high DPI yoga or something that works with a quality digitizer.

  22. If you have enough of a difference between the native resolution and the “logical” resolution, non-integer scaling works okay. CRTs also have a fixed pixel size, it’s just that usually there was a larger difference between their native resolution and the lower resolution used, compared with what you have on most LCDs. I suppose also the slight blur of CRTs acted as bilinear filtering or something similar.

  23. Is [i<]any[/i<] version of [i<]any[/i<] desktop OS aware of the true pixel size, in mm, of the display(s) that it's driving?

  24. I think one of the main problems with this scaling problem is because the jump is not multiplied by a integer like x2, a 1920×1080 resolution is 1.4x over 1366×768… it’s very hard for elements to be scaled by 1.4x without being blurred… as some element that normally took 2 pixels will have to go for 2.8pixels… in a CRT monitor this is easy but it’s just not working on LCD… you can’t enable part of a pixel size like in CRT !!

    Apple’s take on this is simple, but costlier to implement, just multiply by 2x.. that’s why macbooks have 2560×1440… because this is twice as large as original resolution ( 1280×720 ), and they did the exact same thing in iPhone when they introduced the retina thing… they increased the resolution by 2x…

    Talking about resolution: I’m just talking the multiply of one dimension, if we took the whole display then the multiply will be 4x, as you’re doubling both horizontal and vertical pixels count..

  25. Yeah, initially it was so keenly DPI independent even refused to do snap to pixel font rendering. This meant that all your text was exactly the same length (relative to other interface components) at all DPIs even though at standard DPIs the projected text ended up being effectively pixel anti-aliased instead of cleartype’d or crisp.

    That’s still the default setting, although they added an option to render text to the nearest pixel in 2008, two years after release, which is a good compromise that gives you good scaling while maintaining text quality at lower DPIs at the expense of text changing size as DPI changes – although as WPF also recommends (and visual studio defaults to) interfaces using layout managers that flow rather than absolute positioning that’s often not a problem at all.

    It would be nice to have a follow up article on how the cross platform toolkits are bearing up. Cases like Chrome and Photoshop are just the lack of anticipation of upcoming changes from individual developers but it would be good to know the status of cross platform APIs like QT, GTK and wxWidgets.

  26. WPF scales VERY well, to the point you can make a form/sheet that appears at desktop resolution, fill it out, and print it out as an XPS/PDF at whatever DPI your heart desires. You’d have to actively try to break the scaling or use some sort of control that wasn’t designed right in the first place, in my experience.

  27. [quote<]Since Chrome scales fine in OSX it appears NOT to be a limitation of the application[/quote<] retina macbook pro launch: June 2012 chrome fix for retina display: Jul 31st 2012 [url<][/url<] windows 8.1 released: October 17, 2013 chrome fix for high ppi display: unknown but lets blame microsoft with their shody coding and shady business practices anyway right?

  28. I wouldn’t call the blur-fest I encountered in the default installation “nothing wrong.” Yes, everything would be better if third-party developers got their act together, but Windows 8.1’s way of handling non-high-PPI apps (which seem to be in the majority) is still far from ideal.

  29. Wrong question with nonsense answer. Correct is:
    “Do app behave same way on Windows 7?” Answer is yes, because devs are lazy, stupid or not given time/budget by management.

  30. What do you think preview is? Unfinished stuff for testing, so some things are not ready. Big news hotshot.

    I seriously suggest not to dig that deep or you’ll reach mantle (not of AMD kind)…

  31. TL/DR you are not even wrong and this post is not correct and dosen’t contain true infromation but nonsense and ignorant statements.

    On topic of Lotus you are incredibly wrong. It is nonsesnse, which was reptead so many times that as a lie it gained status of truth when in reality it is still a lie and nonsense and wrong information.

    It was never true, it won’t become true with time either.

    Sole reason why Lotus and co fauiled was idiocy of compabies not some stupid sabotage by Microsoft.

    [url<][/url<] As for scaling, there are not that many options when WinAPI allows you to di so many things 1000+1 ways that you can't catch all cases anyway. That's why WinRT works better with DPI, because it was designed to handle that better and restricted programmers from doing certain things. (+Store validation)

  32. Title is wrong. It’s not support in Windows / which is broken, bit it’s stupid third-party programs which are broken. Ask Google why they didn’t fix it yet, ask Adobe when they will fix their programs (BTW Adobe Reader is supposed to have DPI fixed and so XnView, but I cannot test it as I no longer have access to high-DPI screen)
    Your blame is against wrong party.

    BTW: How about testing WinRT apps, because this is one of main problems WinRT was designed to fix. (No other way)

    Unless author has some magical algorithm which can solve it for legacy or lying code, then it cannot be fixed.

    WinAPI was designed in time, where developers were trusted to do right thing and WinAPI was supposed to enable all sort of great things. Unfortunately we learned that majority of developers are stupid, lazy or ignorant and rest of us often have bad management so we can’t do right thing either unless we get to use at least library which would do it on our behalf.

    There are newer desktop APIs which can fix it too, but rarely they are used for various reasons. (Usually bad reasons)

    Those who aren’t programmers fail to understand how difficult things are and assume that it can be magically fixed. In the end there is a reason why Apple chose only second resolution which is exactly double of original, but Microsoft can’t do that (costs would be high on devices) and people would still likely complain…

  33. The author doesn’t seem to understand the changes made in Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 (for the worse). Windows 8.1 removes the option to force XP style scaling (or user control over it). The old default – XP style scaling forced only at 125% – is now permanent and mandatory. Every application’s developer that doesn’t declare the app as DPI-aware will use blurry DPI virtualization at 150% and higher, unless you opt it out explicitly. Even some Windows utilities lack the DPI-aware flag, e.g. Device Manager and Resource Monitor. Also, up to Windows 7, the actual DPI value (“120 pixels per inch” as well as the percentage) is shown next to the system font size. Windows 8 and later inexplicably drop the DPI value, so now the end user has to calculate the DPI value based on the percentage to match this screen’s DPI/PPI.

  34. But they have. The scaling support is there. It’s up to third party devs to update with support.

  35. Did you try checking or unchecking the “let me choose one scaling level for all my displays” button in the Control Panel\Appearance and Personalization\Display menu? I think either checking or unchecking that fixed all my Windows 8.1 blurriness.

    Edit: Ah, skimmed a bit, I see you covered that. I still find that better though, not much problem with setting Chrome to 144% or whatever you need.

    This does sound mostly like third party software being slow to catch up, Microsoft has the right support in there. I can’t see what they can do if apps aren’t updated with proper support. Apple had it easy with their integer scaling, and since all macbooks are going retina they got support faster too as on the Windows side it’s a vicious cycle, lack of software support leads to low percentage of high ppi hardware, leads to low software support.

  36. ummm… what do you think the above article is? he does it with the finished copy and says it looks great….

  37. I really hope Microsoft will rise to the challenge and deliver what the consumers want.

    Everyone always bashes MS and Balmer but I’ve yet to use a better OS. Win8 really is a beautiful OS when you look behind the obvious and get down into the nitty gritty, there were some really talanted programmers at work here.

  38. Wrong. According to citations on wikipedia, there exist 4K “standards” that can have as little as 3 times more pixels, up to as much as 5 times more pixels. (Ranging from 7 to 10 megapixels.)

    4K is therefore simply literally a reference to “about 4000 pixels horizontally”.

  39. The ‘k’ refers to marketing bull excrement, not the horizontal or vertical resolution actually. It’s 4 times as many pixels as 1920×1080, and they decided that k would look best on a big poster.

  40. My only issue is that I can’t believe MS would release a preview, to show off the new improved features, and not even include the features they were including in 8.1 specifically. I’d love for someone with the right gear to actually test and refute the Ars claim. “It’s a preview, it’s a preview, it doesn’t coooouuuunnnntttt.” Seriously, if there’s a more recent test with screenshots, someone please actually link to it.

  41. My wife does CS6 Illustrator and Dreamweaver and Photoshop stuff on a Dell laptop with a 200-ish GB SSD. No, she doesn’t use a media server.

    I have an older Macbook Pro with a 200-ish GB HDD that used to run dual-boot OS X and WinXP. Now I have it running OS X and run WinXP in VirtualBox. It ran fine on 4 GB of RAM and the Core 2 Duo. I upgraded to 8 GB and yes, much nicer, but it’s not like the computer ceased to function with only 4 GB of RAM.

    I dunno, I think you’re just prone to histrionics with the whole wah wah wah Macs are expensive and useless stuff. Regardless of your personal views, OS X did better high-DPI scaling before MS and is probably still a better environment for that kind of thing. I don’t have any high-DPI devices to form a first-hand opinion.

  42. So just to clarify, on the MS 8.1 preview they didn’t follow their own 8.1 features/guidelines that someone else pointed out?

    [url<][/url<] "Windows 8.1 gives developers new functionality to create desktop applications that are per-monitor DPI-aware." I'd have thought that 8.1 preview would have been a showcase for this. Anyone with 8.1 and multiple monitors able to confirm that the issue found in the preview is no longer an issue?

  43. 4K is one dimensional – about 4000 horizontal pixels. 8K (twice as wide as 4K) is the same jump over 4K that 4K is over 1080p.

  44. With Chrome I enabled the HIDPI setting option and it made web pages look great with a Dell XPS 15 with the 3200 x 1800 screen. Text and images look comparable to IE 11 though Chrome button elements themselves don’t look great.

    Anyways, other applications that I use, recent versions of Visual Studio, Office, Paint.Net and Lightroom all work well with HIDPI.

  45. You mean like this? [url<][/url<] This material has been around for years... it really is a developer problem at this point.

  46. Windows API has had “proper” scaling for years. Devs just don’t typically use it, despite Microsoft’s recommendations. Chrome is clearly not using it on Windows yet, for whatever reason. I expect that to change, but given their behavior on Win8 Apps so far, it may not be high on their priority list.

  47. That test was also using multiple monitors with different scaling settings. How do other OSes even handle that – do they handle it at all? It’s not exactly a trivial problem to fix… an window that spans multiple monitors obviously has to be raster scaled on one of them, and in practice you have to pick one scaling at application launch time.

    [Edit] Well apparently there even are APIs to handle variation in DPI settings between monitors… [url<][/url<] I think it's pretty hard to blame Microsoft at this point!

  48. No, it’s Windows devs not using the proper MS APIs and guidelines, and those are not secret. It’s one thing for abandonware or old programs that were written under old guidelines, but there’s no excuse for up to date programs. A properly written program will scale properly.

  49. I feel like the disparity in support between the MS and the Apple ecosystems has mostly to do with adoption rates than anything within the OS itself. I’d wager Apple moves a greater number of laptops with a resolution of greater than 1080p in a given month than the rest of the PC industry does in a year. And if you’re an app developer and you know 30+% of your target market moving forward will demand HiDPI settings versus a tiny fraction of that on the Windows side, then supporting HiDPI displays makes more sense on OS X.

  50. I’m not sure if you can completely blame 3rd party apps. Windows never promoted good interface guidelines. They left it up the developer. Where as apple really promotes interface guidelines. They tell you exactly what to do and not do. So Microsoft needs to start promoting and setting some guidelines for high ppi user interface development.

  51. Unlike Windows, OS X doesn’t implement “proper” scaling–just pixel doubling and downsampling from a larger (doubled) virtual resolution, the latter of which should be transparent to apps. As a result, any scaling differences for Chrome on Windows and OS X aren’t that surprising, especially considering how it’s not built on standard UI toolkits.

    Also, the real problem on Windows isn’t so much apps that aren’t high DPI aware (as they can be force scaled and end up somewhat blurry at worst), it’s the ones that claim to be high DPI aware and fail miserably instead.

  52. Um, doesn’t the blur have to do with the way fonts are rendered for LCDs? I think you can turn this off. Clear Type or something like that. *poof!* No more blur.
    Control Panel -> Display -? Adjust ClearType text -> Play with options.

  53. Hey Balmer, MS is still paying you to run the company – so stop surfing the net and go do something productive.

  54. I think your headline is wrong: there’s nothing wrong with the high-PPI >support< in Windows 8, it’s just that other vendors aren’t implementing it’s capabilities.

  55. [quote=”GraveDigger”<]That $1300 MacBook Pro has 4GB of RAM and a tiny SSD, and I can't *wait* for the blog post after you buy it when you just can't run anything at all.[/quote<] You mean exactly the same same amount of RAM and SSD capacity as the UX31A ZenBook Prime Cyril used to test with? Considering how his post was fraught with complaints about the inadequacy of the ZenBook Prime's hardware, I can see why you felt the need to post what you did.

  56. Yes, the wizards of kernel development manipulated the OS to favour user-space software written down the hall, not the other way around. Since Ray Ozzie is smarter than that I’ll assume you’re a Mike Cowpland sockpuppet.

  57. OS X requires 8GB / 2GB minimum spec and Windows 8.1 is about 20GB / 1 GB for the OS alone (note: 1GB is what the OS uses on the host machine running nothing else in a top-notch VM server like Hyper-V – obviously the minimum spec to actually do things is higher). Since OS X doesn’t have 30 years of compatibility to maintain I’ll assume 8GB stays consistent with updates and other libraries. With those totals you’re immediately giving up 25% of your SSD to get a real software library back unless you remove OS X entirely. Having tried to fit my main PC inside 240GB once I wouldn’t even consider 128GB (probably 120GB after over-provisioning and base-10 conversion). Hope you like keeping all your media on another server!

    Trying to run two operating systems at once? I once tried to fit Backtrack on a very modestly-specced VirtualBox VM inside Windows 7 with 3GB of RAM. Running Parallels and two full-size operating systems on 4GB is going to have you putting teeth marks on your new Mac. The Macbook Pro that can handle that (8GB / 256GB) is $1500 before service plans and tax, in addition to the Windows license ($80 if you fraud yourself a student discount) and $90 for Parallels.

    For that kind of money you can have the 2nd-best Surface Pro 2 and have extra budget left over for Office and docking accessories.

  58. The worst part of this (IMO anyway) is that their attempt to support high PPI actually messed up a lot of relatively low-PPI use-cases–like 15″ laptops. When I installed 8.1 on my 15″ 1920×1080 everything wanted to scale and I had to disable the scaling in every application I wanted to use without seeing a blurry, enlarged mess.

    Fortunately the rest of 8.1 has been quite nice . . .

  59. Since Chrome scales fine in OSX it appears NOT to be a limitation of the application. The failure is probably related to how Win8 is handling third party applications. Regular apps may be forced to use old-school scaling while the OS, MS and maybe Metro (read:Pay Wall) apps can benefit from proper scaling. This falls right in line with everything that MS has done in the past. Unless you believe that they didn’t manipulate the OS to better support Word and Excel and to thwart Lotus 123 and Wordperfect.

  60. 4K will be an interim solution to the problem. With high enough DPI you can use arbitrary resolutions, at least ones that are sufficiently lower than the native, just like with CRTs. There’s also 1280×720 as an extra perfect integer scaled resolution.

    I suppose anything <= 1920×1080 (x1200? one can hope), maybe even <= 2560, will look just fine on 3840x.

  61. the ars link you keep posting is reviewing the PREVIEW of win 8.1, NOT the final version. It is irrelevant now.

  62. [quote<]vast experience[/quote<] Well I have been running X11 in one form or another since the 20th century, although I was in kindergarten when it first came out publicly. That's kinda why Wayland exists: X11 is *old* and it was designed years & years before anything even remotely resembling a modern GPU existed. There have been plenty of extensions and hacks to the server (which is only one implementation of X11 but has sort of become the defacto standard) along the way. In a modern Linux desktop, the "core" of X11 is actually getting in the way of presenting graphics, and the "extensions" to X11 are actually the only things that let you have anything approaching a modern desktop experience with hardware accelerated compositing, real fonts, etc. etc. Wayland is mostly there to throw out the remaining cruft in X11 and solve some serious shortcomings that can't even be kludged around with extensions to X11. For example, perfect screen rendering with guarantees that you won't get tearing is actually not possible to do with the standard X11 model. Wayland has taken a while to develop, but it is improving rapidly and will be a welcome replacement to X11. As for Mir, that's just a political stunt by Canonical since they don't like anything they didn't "invent". It's pretty irrelevant.

  63. Really? These screenshots of Windows 8.1 file explorer shows there’s more work to be done:


  64. But even on OS X people can use their own custom stuff with Cocoa programs. Look at the Reeder/Twitter shot at the bottom of this page:

    [url<][/url<] Oh noes, these sloppily-coded 3rd party apps are ruining scaling on OS X! Apple better clean out the stables even more! Even if MS pulls an Apple and forces only a new set of APIs, people will deploy stuff with their own window managers. I know someone writing a 3D modeling application with the UI completely done from scratch in OpenGL. I think at first he was hoping it would make it easier for porting but after putting all the work into it, kinda wishes he used something like Qt. Either way, my point is that even if the OS vendor wants programmers to do something a certain way, that doesn't mean they will, depreciated APIs or not.

  65. Yeah but even MS’s own apps don’t scale well, ace.

    [url<][/url<] [url<][/url<] The first one is just screenshots of file explorer. You'd think that'd scale perfectly? Apple's approach wasn't perfect, but it seemed to pull it off better: [url<][/url<] Also, you can see how scaling doesn't work that great with apps that use custom bits on OS X, too, so it's not just evil Apple and Google who are refusing to use ModernUI and ruin scaling (?) on Windows. Not sure why you think a laptop with high DPI display, 4 GB of RAM, and an SSD that will let you boot multiple operating systems won't let someone run "anything at all?" That's better than the workstations at my workplace and we use them for real work every day.

  66. Since Silverlight is dead that’s probably a bad idea anyway. What a shame, too – imagine Flash except built by real programmers. That stuff was INCREDIBLE for Netflix and the last Olympics.

  67. Cool beans! Then you can also share with us your vast experience and intricate technical knowledge of the superiority of *nix display servers, and why there are THREE, possibly more (X, Wayland, MIR) display servers for Linux, all fighting it out in a bloody public match, years in the making…

  68. This proves that Windows is a thing of the past, a good article indeed.
    I really need a new laptop but will probably buy a Mac Book Pro, it’s sad because I do not want a Mac.

  69. A very good point that’s often overlooked. You’ve got a fair chance of getting a win3.1 app to run on Windows 8! Try doing something similar on Apple.

    Now for a general consumer, Apple’s approach is far better (and people are also ‘used’ to them switching stuff and breaking swarths of stuff), but for business, where the actual money is, Microsoft’s approach makes far more sense. And when they have tried an Apple…ie Surface RT, look what reception it got.

    What would be nice to know, is that if you built your desktop apps in WPF or Silverlight would they then scale well, without too much developer intervention? I’m assuming metro apps would, but I’ve still not seen anything more than web page rehashes in the store.

  70. Your argument is essentially that Windows supports lazy third-party developers and legacy APIs, unlike Apple who supports nothing older than the last iOS. Great post, ace.

    Apple has made iTunes run like absolute dogshit on Windows for years by building it on top of non-native libraries, and Google has already shown their willingness to cripple things running on Windows Phone (YouTube, Maps). Both companies refuse to release proper Modern UI applications because they think they can de-legitimize Microsoft in the touch/tablet space, but despite overwhelming marketshare for those applications/services no one is acknowledging the same practises that everyone still rags on Microsoft about from the 90’s.

    That $1300 MacBook Pro has 4GB of RAM and a tiny SSD, and I can’t *wait* for the blog post after you buy it when you just can’t run anything at all.

  71. My view is that they’re caught in a similar trap than Adobe (their stuff also looks really bad on Mac): they made the decision to not go through standard UI APIs to get some nice interface effects (Chrome’s capacity to put the tabs on the window bar would probably not be possible otherwise) and now they’d have to redesign a complicated codebase to backpedal and that’s not only a lot of work, but super risky when a lot of your code is not only multi-platform, but used in a variety of products.

    Firefox has been working on putting tabs into their own threads for years, but major changes like these affect so many other things that it’s super hard to do. And, to add another argument, it’s work that sucks. Developpers want to develop new and cool stuff, not work on redesigning and refactoring for months.

  72. Haven’t you heard? Microsofts only goal with the notebook-desktop range of windows 8 products is trying to convince you that you need to buy a Surface

  73. I must be approaching 40. I’m really not seeing that much of a big deal here.

    I had an HP 850 G1 a week ago (15.6″ diagonal LED-backlit FHD WVA anti-glare (1920 x 1080)) and set DPI up a notch (I think 125% and didn’t notice much difference at all.

  74. Been using 2560×1440 in win 8+ for a few months now, it works well for most things…

    In Firefox/Aurora this works well;
    [url<][/url<] Firefox, by default, uses 96 and only uses the system's DPI if it is a higher value. To force the system's DPI regardless of its value, type about:config into the address bar and set layout.css.dpi to 0. Note that the above method only affects the Firefox user interface's DPI settings. Web page contents still use a DPI value of 96, which may look ugly or, in the case of high-resolution displays, may be rendered too small to read. A solution is to change layout.css.devPixelsPerPx to system's DPI divided by 96. For example, if your system's DPI is 144, then the value to add is 144/96 = 1.5. Changing layout.css.devPixelsPerPx to 1.5 makes web page contents use a DPI of 144, which looks much better. this is helpful for your screens DPI number; [url<][/url<] this addon helps too; [url<][/url<]

  75. [quote<]only new-UI programs can use the new API that scales well.[/quote<] By "new-UI" do you mean Modern UI (aka Metro)? If so, that is clearly not true, the screenshots of File Explorer are from desktop mode. The desktop isn't different enough from Windows 7 to consider it a 'new UI'.

  76. Yup, the title implies that Windows itself doesn’t have good high PPI support when it clearly does.

  77. That’s the thing, we know Google isn’t incompetent as a software company, especially if the same behavior isn’t exhibited on other platforms. Microsoft’s APIs are well documented and should be able to be implemented by a competent company.

  78. I’m almost certain that Chrome scales well on OS X, or at least better than this, likewise Firefox.

    Don’t assume malice when incompetence (or even lack of round tuits) will suffice.

  79. Yeah, I don’t know what you want them to do. All their stuff works, but crappy third party stuff doesn’t? What does that have to do with 8.1? Seems like the title should be “large software manufacturers dragging their feet to implement high ppi displays, 8.1 does a good job”

  80. [quote<]We're not talking about cleaning the Augean stables here. Apple has already pulled off something quite similar. There was a rough transition period after Retina MacBooks came out a couple of years back, but high-PPI support in OS X and Mac software has improved dramatically since then.[/quote<] Except you /are/ talking about cleaning out those stables. Apple doesn't care near as much about back compatibility as Microsoft does, and there must be at least a couple orders of magnitude more sloppily-coded third party software out there on Windows vs. OS X, to say nothing of all the random toolkits and libraries that programs use. The problem's likely not going away for good until Microsoft deprecates all its old APIs and forces all new programs to be written against modern ones... i.e. until Microsoft does what Apple did with the Carbon to Cocoa transition. Unfortunately MS decided to do this halfway while also switching to an ill-conceived new UI, and only new-UI programs can use the new API that scales well.

  81. When I read about competitor’s products failing to work right – especially a competent competitor like Google – on a competing OS or platform, a little part of me always gets conspiratorial. Do they do this on purpose? Does the same program on another platform or the native platform (in this case, Android or ChromeOS) not scale properly either? I know DPI scaling problems are common across Windows programs because 3rd party developers don’t follow MS guidelines, but it’s especially glaring when it’s a company like Google.

  82. One of these day’s I’m going to upgrade my 1920×1200 display to a 4K jobby and I promise to give a full rundown of how a modern X11/Wayland(?) display server and desktop environment handle high DPI situations.

    Until then: [url<][/url<]