Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 15th Sep 2010 19:14 UTC
Internet Explorer After several months and preview releases, Microsoft has finally lifted the curtain for the Windows Explorer 9 beta release. Internet Explorer 9 is Microsoft's attempt at not just catching up to the competition, but at actually surpassing them. Since enough sites will be focusing on just how many nanoseconds faster or slower the beta is compared to the competition, I'll talk a little about the new minimalist interface.
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nt_jerkface
Member since:
2009-08-26

As you probably understand microsoft's internal organization better than me, could you explain me why Microsoft doesn't simply push an update to WPF that automatically switches font rendering to display mode under 15 pt fonts and ideal mode above 15 pt ? Couldn't that be a simple and efficient fix while screens improve ?


For the record I don't work for MS but I do work with .net most days.

They could certainly have a program setting that auto-switches depending on a font size set by the developer. Perhaps they are keeping it as a text option to discourage its use, they were after all reluctant to do anything in the first place. A key goal of WPF is precision vector scaling of objects so their initial reaction was that's how it is supposed to work. But .net is popular with enterprise where 17" 1024x768 monitors are still common so there was an angry backlash.

Anyways there is another problem with these hacks which is that WPF is not a system wide library. Their TextOption hack is in .net 4 which is bleeding edge. ISVs that release on the internet are very resistant when it comes to requiring the latest framework. Non-technical users are often hesitant to install the latest .net framework, especially if they are running XP. The most bleeding edge targeting I have seen is Paint.net and it requires .net 3.5SP1 which ships with Win7. Note that XP did not ship with any .net framework .

So WPF was already facing an uphill battle without the font issue. It will be adopted but not as fast as MS wanted.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

For the record I don't work for MS but I do work with .net most days.

Well, my guess was that since you often often post on Microsoft-related news with some details, you probably have acquired more knowledge of the company than I do. Didn't know how, though ;)

They could certainly have a program setting that auto-switches depending on a font size set by the developer. Perhaps they are keeping it as a text option to discourage its use, they were after all reluctant to do anything in the first place.

I did not see it as a program setting, but rather as a temporary hack to default settings. When the developper specifies nothing about the font rendering method being used, the default would be to switch. Sure, it's not elegant, but it's the nature of a hack to be efficient rather than elegant.

A key goal of WPF is precision vector scaling of objects so their initial reaction was that's how it is supposed to work. But .net is popular with enterprise where 17" 1024x768 monitors are still common so there was an angry backlash.

Not to mention that most consumer-targeted laptops have something like 96dpi screens too... Making pixels thinner in a large screen while keeping price low is not an easy task, and I expect this to become even worse with the advent of cheap OLED monitors in a few decades.

Anyways there is another problem with these hacks which is that WPF is not a system wide library. Their TextOption hack is in .net 4 which is bleeding edge.

Well, that means that the adoption of the feature would be somewhat slow. This can be fine (after all, although a bit painful to read currently, the fonts remain readable), and even benefit to microsoft : for those who were okay with default .net rendering, no change, but all businesses and geeks who care would switch to the latest release, reducing in less platform fragmentation for those users.

ISVs that release on the internet are very resistant when it comes to requiring the latest framework. Non-technical users are often hesitant to install the latest .net framework, especially if they are running XP. The most bleeding edge targeting I have seen is Paint.net and it requires .net 3.5SP1 which ships with Win7. Note that XP did not ship with any .net framework.

Yeah, I know that, I had to download .net bundles weighting hundreds of MB over a slow internet connection during the XP days, and that deeply sucked. However, how does that prevent microsoft from releasing a special Windows update which updates the .net framework if present ? I bet they would do it if there was a major security issue in .net...

So WPF was already facing an uphill battle without the font issue. It will be adopted but not as fast as MS wanted.

Well, it's not like MS has something to fear if adoption is slow ;) Apple neglects OSX ostensibly, other Unices still don't have a single and stable API for most tasks of a modern multimedia operating system (though Qt has the potential to become that), and people are now okay with Windows 7, so they can take their time without it resulting in significant lost market share.

Edited 2010-09-17 06:10 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

Well, my guess was that since you often often post on Microsoft-related news with some details, you probably have acquired more knowledge of the company than I do. Didn't know how, though ;)


Oh I probably do but I just like to make it clear that I don't work for them, not necessarily for you but others.


However, how does that prevent microsoft from releasing a special Windows update which updates the .net framework if present ? I bet they would do it if there was a major security issue in .net...


They release security updates for .net frameworks but they have a policy of keeping the API stable.

I think I see what you are getting at which is why not force an update on .net 3 to make WPF more appealing.

Keep in mind this is mainly a problem for programs that have to render a wide range of fonts and aren't used in enterprise or shipped on plastic where the full .net framework can be rolled out. Thus it is a small minority of programs that could make use of the update which is not enough for them to break protocol.

Well, it's not like MS has something to fear if adoption is slow ;) Apple neglects OSX ostensibly, other Unices still don't have a single and stable API for most tasks of a modern multimedia operating system (though Qt has the potential to become that), and people are now okay with Windows 7, so they can take their time without it resulting in significant lost market share.


This is true and is partly why they were slow to address the situation. It isn't as if .net developers would stop using Visual Studio over WPF fonts. MS keeps tying goodies to newer versions of .net so there will be a move from winforms/gdi eventually. With so many people still on XP the typical ISV is in no hurry to switch over.

As for Qt it has a great team and once they bake out a few Mac related issues I think we will see a lot of devs switch over. Even though I work with .net I thought it was a major mistake for Novell to fund Mono. Using C# as a binding makes sense but cloning Winforms? They have basically locked themselves into .net 2 with nowhere to go.

Reply Parent Score: 3