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Windows 8 Has Scaling Issues On High-PPI Displays

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the to-be-fair-there's-not-much-room-there dept.

Displays 171

crookedvulture writes "High-PPI displays are becoming increasingly popular on tablets and notebooks, but Windows 8 may not be ready for them. On a 13" notebook display with a 1080p resolution, the RTM version of Win8 scales up some desktop UI elements nicely. However, there are serious issues with Metro, which produces tiles and text that are either too small or too large depending on the PPI setting used. That setting, by the way, is a simple on/off switch that tells the OS to 'make everything bigger.' Web browsing is particularly problematic, with Internet Explorer 10 introducing ugly rendering artifacts when scaling pages in both Metro and desktop modes. Clearly, there's work to be done on the OS side to properly support higher pixel densities."

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Device Independence? (0, Offtopic)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467001)

What? Haven't figured this one out, Ballmer?

Bet it renders just fine on the "Surface" tablets.

Re:Device Independence? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467033)

No. THey think PPI is when I go peepee in your eye.

Re:Device Independence? (4, Interesting)

mystikkman (1487801) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467165)

Thanks for the typical obligatory karma whoring post full of snark.

Meanwhile, they did figure it out to the extent it can be.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/03/21/scaling-to-different-screens.aspx [msdn.com]

Meanwhile, Apple has similar issues with their retina display:

http://blog.macsales.com/14111-15-macbook-pro-with-retina-display-lessens-web-experience [macsales.com]
http://www.robertotoole.com/2012/06/17/macbook-pro-retina-display/ [robertotoole.com]

Meanwhile, let the anti-MS bashfest continue.

Re:Device Independence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467681)

Your first link proves that MS has thought about this issue a great deal. Kudos to them. It doesn't prove they got it right.

Re:Device Independence? (4, Funny)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467699)

Man, don't you know that when MS does it, it's a colossal fuck up, but when Apple does it, it's a feature? I understand it's hard to make the distinction sometimes.

Re:Device Independence? (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468335)

The retina display scales everything by 200%, which means that a grid of one-pixel lines will at least be displayed evenly even with bilinear filtering. In TFA, they scaled to 125%, causing (predictably) this to mess up in IE. If anything I'd blame the user, although the argument can be made that IE should use a nicer scaling algorithm.

Re:Device Independence? (4, Informative)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467707)

What's strange is: my work just bought me an Asus Zenbook Prime and I'm running 150% on it (I nuked the OS to get rid of the crapware and to be able to log on to the domain, so I've actually never seen it stock). I can scale web pages easily by doing a pinch-zoom on the touchpad and they look terrific, including images. (I mean, sure, the images ARE scaled up, which never looks 100% perfect, but it's just not that noticeable, and doesn't look anything the article.)

What they may be noticing is ASUS Splendid Video Enhancement Technology [asus.com] which is turned on by default (I'm told, I didn't install it after reading that people were trying frantically to get rid of it). Basically, it's supposed to "fix" your graphics so they look "more lifelike". But I've seen cases where people report that web graphics were getting very blurred by it, exactly like what the article is showing.

After using 150% and browser scaling for the past week, I've been pleasantly surprised by just how "arrived" high-DPI scaling was in Windows 7. I really didn't think it would work, but it's terrific so far, with ultra-readable text that's incredibly easy on the eyes and looks just as good as Apple's Retina displays.

Re:Device Independence? (1)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468645)

What I found interesting was that the article mentions that they noticed no difference on the Start screen at different DPI settings. I've been spending a lot of time of time in Visual Studio's Simulator lately, and it definitely displays a 10.1" 1920x1080 simulated screen differently than a 23" 1920x1080 screen. Meanwhile, 10.1" 1366x768 screen looks very similar to that 10.1" 1920x1080 screen.

Re:Device Independence? (2, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467789)

Meanwhile, let the anti-MS bashfest continue.

You'd think that a company with billions of dollars in revenue could test the product or at least re-use some old perfectly functional scaling code in prior products that performed the same task. /snark

Re:Device Independence? (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468027)

You'd think that the most valuable company in the world, with billions of dollars just sitting in the bank and a(n increasingly unwarranted) reputation for polished products, could test the product or at least quickly develop a decent solution.

Re:Device Independence? (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468133)

Meanwhile, let the anti-MS bashfest continue.

You'd think that a company with billions of dollars in revenue could test the product or at least re-use some old perfectly functional scaling code in prior products that performed the same task. /snark

Wait, are you talking about Apple?

After all, Apple has tens of billions more cash than Microsoft, which according to Slashdot wisdom, is dying.

Re:Device Independence? (4, Interesting)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467799)

Your first link is a very interesting link, which kind of proves that MS doesn't understand dpi since they insist on a "minimum resolution" instead of a "minimum size" for screens for the Metro UI. Way off the point.

Both links on the Apple side of the story, however, are so stupid I have to assume you haven't even had a look at them. Basically, both complain that the UI elements have the same size on the MacBook Retina than on a normal MacBook !!! Right from your second link: "This configuration should offer amazing detail but you don’t actually get any more desktop space". Well, guess what: That was the point, very precisely.

Overall you just proved that MS doesn't know what they are doing and Apple does. Nice way to illustrate an anti MS bashfest. Wait... wasn't that your intent?

Re:Device Independence? (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468735)

Your first link is a very interesting link, which kind of proves that MS doesn't understand dpi since they insist on a "minimum resolution" instead of a "minimum size" for screens for the Metro UI. Way off the point.

What do you mean by "minimum size"? Like 7 inches wide? So you want MS to proclaim that all Metro apps are supposed to support a minimum of 7" width regardless of the resolution? So does that mean the apps must support a device with 320x240 resolution?

Both links on the Apple side of the story, however, are so stupid I have to assume you haven't even had a look at them. Basically, both complain that the UI elements have the same size on the MacBook Retina than on a normal MacBook !!!

They're no more stupid than TFA, which I suggest you read, and which complains about the same problem with scaling up graphics on the web.

Re:Device Independence? (2)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469431)

Your first link is a very interesting link, which kind of proves that MS doesn't understand dpi since they insist on a "minimum resolution" instead of a "minimum size" for screens for the Metro UI. Way off the point.

What do you mean by "minimum size"? Like 7 inches wide? So you want MS to proclaim that all Metro apps are supposed to support a minimum of 7" width regardless of the resolution? So does that mean the apps must support a device with 320x240 resolution?

Well... everyone's talking about resolution independent interface, and that's really what it should be about. Of course, it makes no sense. So there is the Apple approach that take shortcuts that work well, and the MS approach which tries to accommodate for every fucking screen on the planet. Guess who's more efficient? Guess who will end up with an average interface that will work so-so on most configs but will look clunky on not so common screens. Interestingly that's the very same approach that did lead them to the pre-ipad tablets. Talk about learning about one's mistake.

Both links on the Apple side of the story, however, are so stupid I have to assume you haven't even had a look at them. Basically, both complain that the UI elements have the same size on the MacBook Retina than on a normal MacBook !!!

They're no more stupid than TFA, which I suggest you read, and which complains about the same problem with scaling up graphics on the web.

I was not comparing to TFA. I was just mentioning that apart from asserting that their author is utterly clueless, they pretty much serve no purpose.

Re:Device Independence? (4, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469377)

So hold on, super-high resolution displays should only be used so that the rounded corners are more rounded?

Thanks, but no thanks. The entire point of higher resolution displays is displaying more information on the same space. Apple's way of just doubling the resolution for each length is good for backwards compatibility, but it shouldn't be the standard for new applications: they should be designed to take advantage of the high resolution displays, and I don't just mean better text rendering.

Re:Device Independence? (3, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469637)

On a retina display you have the exact same real estate than on a regular (equivalent) display. You just have the ability to have more precise drawings, that's all.

How the developer want to use it is really the developer concern. Apple doesn't dictate anything in this regard.

However, just having the same per-pixel ratio for apps would have rendered pretty much everything useless. Apple's approach (pixel doubling) was just the sensible one.

But to be honest, for most applications, retina means sharper display and nothing more.

Re:Device Independence? (0)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468067)

Meanwhile, Apple has similar issues with their retina display:

Completely off topic, but I think Apple has another issue with their retina display--the retina is used for seeing images, not displaying them. "Retina display" makes as much sense as a tympanic speaker, jumbo shrimp, or Microsoft quality control (zing!).

But seriously, a new camera with a retina detector would make sense, like a tympanic microphone.

At one time Apple was about producing innovative products, but now it's just about shiny boxes and fancy names. All packaging, no substance. /ob /. meme: In Soviet Apple, display watches you!

Re:Device Independence? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41468101)

There's a key catch here you seem to be missing:

The macsales link points out a common issue with any high-DPI screen: What happens when you put a low-DPI image on one. This is a content issue. It doesn't imply that Apple's scaling is inaccurate.

The robertotoole link is lamenting the fact that this high-DPI screen isn't letting him use it in 1:1 mode. Fair enough, but again says nothing about Apple's scaling being inaccurate, but rather the lack of a built-in 1:1 mode. Interestingly though, an app can display things in 1:1 mode within a high-DPI UI. A photo editor app would work well in such a mode.

The point of this article is this: Microsoft's scaling isn't just imperfect, but inaccurate. Inaccurate display is a real problem when doing web design, image work and even some forms of type/layout work. The comparison to Apple's scaling is to point out that while it isn't perfect (how can it be when scaling smaller things up?), it maintains accuracy.

Re:Device Independence? (1)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468821)

Meanwhile, Apple has similar issues with their retina display

I agree. Microsoft and Apple both forgot how to innovate and only know how to litigate.

Re:Device Independence? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467717)

I thought the reason they changed to flat squares was so it would scale properly. Guess I was wrong. Egg meet face.

Wha...? (1)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467003)

Did the MS product mgmt, engineering and test orgs not think to try this out on a standard desktop machine with the high res monitors pretty much everyone uses these days? Incomprehensible!

Re:Wha...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467047)

Incomprehensible: I'm not sure if you're trolling, or just have the typical slashdot IQ.

Re:Wha...? (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467125)

1080p is just 1920x1080 - that part almost certainly works fine. It's that pixel density has, for years, been within a fairly narrow range (22-27 inch displays all maxing out at 1920x1200 or 1920x1080). The problem is pixel density is now increasing, think apple retina displays, and that's a problem most of us on the software side were never expecting and aren't used to having to cope with. At least not for desktops/laptops (phones is another matter because they are a rapidly maturing product used in a completely different way).

Besides that, different groups will have people who are more or less aware of this problem and trying to deal with it. Microsoft *should* have testing labs for all of these different things, and feedback about a very uneven experience should have moved up and down the chain. But as someone who writes games for a living, most of the stuff I have done in the last 5 or 6 years would look like shit on a 13 inch display at 1920x1080. Everything would be too small unless the screen is 10cm from your face. That's the catch here, we've designed for a single pixel to take up a certain fraction of your personal field of view, suddenly higher density displays come along, to which we initially ask, why, was there something wrong with the old pixel densities? Is this technology actually better or is it just going to be a method to sell expensive video cards. These new displays people are physically positioning the way their old setups were, but well, all of the assumptions about field of view get tossed.

Re:Wha...? (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467271)

Yeah, is there any OS that handles this quite right?

I recently bought one of those korean ebay 2560x1440 27" displays and it looks great...but not *everything* looks great on it. Win7 UI elements scale pretty well with the built in settings, but if you turn off "Use XP compatible scaling" (or similar), applications start doing really stupid things. I believe that what they do with any application that does not report it is dpi-scaling-aware (and unfortunately, just because it says it is, doesn't mean it actually is) is that it renders the app on an off screen framebuffer and then literally just zooms the image and drops it onto your desktop.

For image content, this is no different than what a browser does when you hit ctrl-+ a few times, but it makes all text look awful since it just zooms the image of the text instead of rendering a larger font size.

I know that this is mostly the fault of 3rd party developers (which is why it occurs on other OSes as well) but maybe if Windows defaulted to ugly mode (instead of XP compatability mode which just leaves everything really small), then app developers would be forced to fix these issues. It is sort of like the iphone vs android screen size issues that are cropping up on the iphone 5...android developers have always had to develop for wildy varying screen DPI (as well as size) while apple let them sit with guaranteed DPI (and then just did 4x for retina) which means they can't just adjust the screen resolution without making all existing apps really ugly.

Re:Wha...? (0, Troll)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467837)

Yeah, is there any OS that handles this quite right?

iOS and OSX. And that's all. Of course, you get the whole Apple package in which there might be elements you dislike.

Re:Wha...? (0)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468141)

sorry, no.

http://blog.macsales.com/14111-15-macbook-pro-with-retina-display-lessens-web-experience [macsales.com]
http://www.robertotoole.com/2012/06/17/macbook-pro-retina-display/ [robertotoole.com]

etc...

Hence the question "is there any OS that handles this quite right?". Because we all know about iStuff, and we all know it doesn't.

Re:Wha...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41468325)

Your links prove that that iOS and OSX handle high dpi perfectly fine.

Re:Wha...? (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468415)

sorry, no.

http://blog.macsales.com/14111-15-macbook-pro-with-retina-display-lessens-web-experience [macsales.com]
http://www.robertotoole.com/2012/06/17/macbook-pro-retina-display/ [robertotoole.com]

etc...

Hence the question "is there any OS that handles this quite right?". Because we all know about iStuff, and we all know it doesn't.

Sorry but the OS does handling it properly but some websites and third party apps have not been updated to handle a higher DPI mode.

Re:Wha...? (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468497)

Did you even read those links? For god's sake, they prove MY point !

Re:Wha...? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468371)

iOS and OSX. And that's all. Of course, you get the whole Apple package in which there might be elements you dislike.

Nope. Not at all. OSX and ios suck at it just as bad as windows.

Apple has just been careful to hide the problem by not shipping any hardware that exposes it. Their own high-dpi displays were carefully chosen to be exact multiples of the traditional resolution, so that they could scale things with pixel doubling.

But as soon as you get outside of that little box, and ask OSX to do 125% or 150% scaling of pretty much anything and you get the same mess.

Go ahead, hook up your mac to a 13" 1080p screen and try browsing the web on it... everything that this article complains about with windows 8 is present in osx.

Re:Wha...? (1, Interesting)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468581)

They chose to build their own hardware specifically so that they don't have to solve unsolvable problems. To me, it looks like they are the smart one in this fight.

But sure, blame it on Apple for taking a highly risky path to solve important problems hardware wise because it's so much simpler.

In the meantime I am entertained to see MS struggle to tackle a problem clearly too big for them. Windows 8 will soon be there with so many stupid design decisions in it, like, I don't know, having 4 different modes for their browser. As if testing IE7, IE8 and IE9 wasn't enough, we'll now have to add IE10 Desktop, IE10 Metro, IE10 Webview, IE10 WebviewMetro and IE10MicrosoftIsFullOfShitICantTakeItAnymoreHowCanAnyCompanyBeSoStupid

But please, give them your money. Support the good fight.

Re:Wha...? (2)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469213)

They chose to build their own hardware specifically so that they don't have to solve unsolvable problems.

They did no such thing. If grandma buys a mid-size imac, can't see it well enough, and scales it 30% it still looks like crap. Apple can't control what the customer is going to do anymore than Microsoft can.

If someone buys a 1080p 13" display designed to show a lot of content in a really small space, then it works great. If the user (or idiot reviewer in this case) decides he wants the text 30% bigger then its going to look like crap.

Your eyes can't quite make out the web on your ipad? Want it 30% bigger? Its going to look like crap.

Doesn't matter what OS it is. If the user steps outside the native resolution, it looks like crap.

Apple's little trick with the retina display is a clumsy hack. If you buy a retina macbook and happen to like it just as it is then your golden... new apps designed for it work, old apps designed for 1/4 the screen are pixel doubled to work as well.

But what if you don't happen to like it exactly as it is. What if you've got good eyesight and bought a retina display to make real use of some of that extra pixel space instead of just having smoother fonts at the same size you had on the old one? Scale it down? 30% to give you some more space... looks like crap.

What if your older and the default on the retina display is too small for you... scale it up 30% to read it better. Looks like crap.

Apple didn't "solve" the problem through hardware. The problem is unsolved and unsolvable. The only difference is that this particular reviewer didn't happen to try scaling things up by 30% on a Mac when he made his "discovery" that scaling off native pixel resolution looks like crap.

Re:Wha...? (3, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469263)

Apple has just been careful to hide the problem by not shipping any hardware that exposes it. Their own high-dpi displays were carefully chosen to be exact multiples of the traditional resolution, so that they could scale things with pixel doubling.

But as soon as you get outside of that little box, and ask OSX to do 125% or 150% scaling of pretty much anything and you get the same mess.

Perhaps, perhaps not.

Have you seen the Retina MacBook Pro running at a scaled mode? You have a variety of settings - from the 2x 1440x900 mode to the decidedly non-integral 1920x1200 mode.

And 1920x1200 is, despite not being a nice integral factor of the native resolutoin, looks practically native. As in, no scaling artifacts.

What happens is that internally, OS X creates a double height frame buffer - 3840x2400, renders to that "retina style" 2x mode, then runs a scaler (custom-designed by Apple so both the 650M and Intel 4000 scale it identically) to bring it back down to 2880x1800. And the results are DAMN good - you can't tell, other than the fact that the GPU is now too underpowered to do 60fps.

And this is 150% scaling (1920x1200 -> 2880x1800), and looks awesome - you definitely don't get the "non-native resolution" crap you see on other displays.

OTOH, the low end mode, I think there's one where it runs at something like 1366x768 or so. It looks awful because even in 2x mode, the virtual framebuffer is smaller than the screen resolution, leading to the hardware having to scale the image up again.

But going from logical 1440x900 to 1920x1200 on the same 2880x1800 panel? Looks damn nice for a 150% scale up.

Re:Wha...? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467295)

Yes. There is something VERY wrong with old pixel densities.
Aside from the idea that I had a 1600x1200 display TWENTY YEARS AGO and since then WE'VE GONE BACKWARDS, I can offer a lot of very good reasons.

1. Clearer pictures. My phone can snap images many times larger than the effective res of my monitor. My monitor should not be the bottleneck.

2. Font smoothing - Subpixel rendering is an ugly hack and makes things look like garbage (If it looks good to you, you need glasses. Yes. You do.) You really need "retina" level pixel densities before font smoothing should even be considered.

3. Truely scalable UIs - Until you reach a certain pixel density you can't scale small UI elements without looking like complete garbage. Think about it. If you have pixels many times smaller than you can see, then your UI should scale to any aspect ratio or any size and still look ok.

Sadness (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468039)

Aside from the idea that I had a 1600x1200 display TWENTY YEARS AGO and since then WE'VE GONE BACKWARDS

You are so right there... I would not have believed 10 years ago that newer large monitors I bought would feature worse resolution. Yet that has been the case for years with monitors that align to 1080p...

Thankfully we are finally starting to break free and actually get more resolution at last, as with the Korean displays people have mentioned here... going to get one of those soon I think.

Re:Wha...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467367)

I'd like to think that most software devs are like me, and did expect pixel density to increase, as it has steadily since the PC was first created. Someone would have to be looking at only the past few years, when cheap 1080p panels dominated the display market, to not see the trend.

Re:Wha...? (4, Informative)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467403)

That's the catch here, we've designed for a single pixel to take up a certain fraction of your personal field of view, suddenly higher density displays come along, to which we initially ask, why, was there something wrong with the old pixel densities?

Yes, there was. The existing low-density displays require ugly (and often patented) hacks like hinting and subpixel rendering to display fonts at normal point sizes. When the pixel density is increased enough, this all becomes unnecessary. And it looks a lot better when it's done right. Have you ever tried using the new iPad? To me, it was a revelation: with a web page or PDF fully zoomed out, the letters were still incredibly sharp and clear, with none of the usual "cloudiness" that results from standard anti-aliasing techniques.

ClearType on Windows is very nice, but it's still just a hack compared to real high-DPI display. I am looking forward to cheap 4K TVs in smaller sizes (32" or so) so that I can use one of them as a desktop monitor. We've been held back by repurposed 1080p HDTV panels for too long.

Re:Wha...? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468731)

The fix is to do what Apple did and simply double the resolution. All your scaling problems go away, just double every pixel of images and render vector stuff like fonts at full res.

I hope we get 4k displays soon. I would prefer 4k over Apple's intermediate Retina resolution because it is only an effective 1440 pixels wide. 4k gives you an effective 1920 pixels, the same as what I have now but sharper. Panasonic do a 20" 4k display and a few manufacturers have demoed 24/27" monitors, but they are still in the small car price range.

Re:Wha...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41469185)

1080p is just 1920x1080 - that part almost certainly works fine. It's that pixel density has, for years, been within a fairly narrow range (22-27 inch displays all maxing out at 1920x1200 or 1920x1080). The problem is pixel density is now increasing, think apple retina displays, and that's a problem most of us on the software side were never expecting and aren't used to having to cope with. At least not for desktops/laptops (phones is another matter because they are a rapidly maturing product used in a completely different way).

Dot pitch and allowable frequencies improved regularly on CRTs through the '80s and early '90s; LCDs came in about the time it tapered off, so there wasn't much change on the conusumer side, but the legendary T221 workstation LCD was introduced over a decade ago. I'm not saying software people in general did see the eventual advent of 200PPI desktop screens coming, but if they didn't, it was due to remarkably shortsightedness. I suspect most of them, at least in relevant sectors (it's more an OS and office apps thing than gaming), knew it was coming, but it wasn't coming now, and you know how the release cycle is -- there's plenty of stuff that matters now to be dealt with, so nonessential future-proofing gets put off till the next version.

I find it funny... (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467005)

...that MS has been one of the first to do the "device-independent drawing stuff" with GDI, and yet twenty years later, there's still no working device-independent UI from them.

Re:I find it funny... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468655)

To be fair TFA is not comparing like with like. Windows is being asked to scale the display by 125% which is obviously going to lead to blurry images. Apple Retina displays are exactly 2x the previous resolution so have 200% scaling, so there is no blur when scaling images.

If you install Chrome on MacOS and scale it to 125% it will look just as bad as it does on Windows. There is no escaping the fact that scaling to 125% looks crap.

Both options have their advantages. 125% scaling on a 13" laptop with 1920x1080 screen gives you ideal size controls and thus maximum productivity, while allowing the screen to be full HD. The effective horizontal resolution is about 1600 pixels. Retina displays are effectively only 1440 pixels wide (with scaling taken into account) so practically you have much less usable space but they look nice because everything is scaled by 200%. Take your pick.

Re:I find it funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41469319)

What's really funny is that they are having trouble scaling the new UI: rectangles filled with solid colors.

Re:I find it funny... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469697)

Microsoft has offered a UI framework with device-independent UI scaling since 2006 - that's WPF. Ironically, to do that fully, it also did the same kind of font rendering that OS X and iOS do (idealized rather than snap to pixels), but users hated it for that.

Metro apps in Win8 also have strong explicit support for DPI scaling.

I have a good idea what causes this on IE (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467053)

I once worked on hardware rendering with a webkit-based browser, and these kind of issues are very common when you're converting between floating-point layout coordinate and integer screen space.
Some rendering pipelines make it harder than others to deal with, especially if you can't control the behaviour of non-integer pixels at the edge of images. To fix it, you have to visit all the conversion sites and decide how you want to handle the conversion. It gets especially tricky if you're scaling and stitching images together that you've uploaded as multiple textures to get around maximum texture size issues. Concatenated transformations through composition layers can be tricky too depending on what your graphics API does.

Re:I have a good idea what causes this on IE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467191)

why is it floating point then?

i mean, i get that the GPU can accelerate the transparency stuff etc, is the GPU limited to floating point? can't you use integer math for everything?

Re:I have a good idea what causes this on IE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467453)

For the stack I was working with, webkit->openVG, it wasn't restricted to floating point but you don't get correct results with integer coordinates since you can't control the rounding as necessary depending on the circumstances. Using only integers results in gaps and overdraw, and when you're composing with alpha overdraw is a serious problem. Webkit itself runs float for everything in render space, even colors.

I blame apple... (3, Funny)

chris200x9 (2591231) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467055)

I blame apple...if the wouldn't have released those retina displays high-PPI displays would have never come and windows 8 would have been a huge success. Apple can you not leave Microsoft in peace for one second?!

Re:I blame apple... (0, Troll)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467245)

Apple created a market of stupid people wanting VGA sized UI displayed on 2560 X 1440 screens just so their rounded corners are not as fuzzy.

Re:I blame apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467407)

Your emotional problems are showing. Apple brought us great displays that make fonts much easier to read.

Re:I blame apple... (1)

lilfields (961485) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469385)

Actually, without Microsoft clear type wouldn't exist and the retina display on fonts would be useless.

Re:I blame apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41469587)

why don't you give IBM some credit for inventing it in the first place?

Re:I blame apple... (2)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467409)

I like how it fits incredibly small, readable text. Improves web browsing, email, and other reading (like Kindle app), even if the benefit is only aesthetic for games and such. I'm currently on Android, but I do like the 4s screen.

Re:I blame apple... (0)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468345)

If it's PPI you're after, the iPhone 4/4s/5 isn't your best bet. If you're an Android user, you've got plenty of great displays to choose from.

Re:I blame apple... (1)

teg (97890) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469167)

If it's PPI you're after, the iPhone 4/4s/5 isn't your best bet. If you're an Android user, you've got plenty of great displays to choose from.

The iPhone had, as the first smartphone, a high enough PPI that you can't distinguish between pixels - it's what they coined the phrase "retina display" for - so there's no point in going for something higher. And the iPhone 5 apparently has the best screen among smartphones [displaymate.com] today.

Re:I blame apple... (1)

marsu_k (701360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469623)

The iPhone had, as the first smartphone, a high enough PPI that you can't distinguish between pixels

Well, this phone [pdadb.net] doesn't quite match the "retinaness" of the latest iPhones (the definition seems to be pure marketing; my Transformer Infinity is not as high-PPI as the "new iPad", but according to Apple's official gospel whether a display is retina or not is both a factor of DPI and viewing distance - and I use mine almost always docked, and it has a higher PPI than the retina MacBook, so arguably it's more retina), but still manages a respectable PPI of 313. In 2007. How do you like them apples?

Re:I blame apple... (2)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469689)

Nonsense. There were other phones with >300ppi prior to the iPhone 4 such as the Samsung S8000 (2009) and the Sharp SX862 (2008).

They just didn't give it marketable name like "retina display", probably because the term is virtually meaningless.

(Quoting Steve Jobs on what "retina" means: "It turns out that there is a magic number right around 300 pixels per inch that, when you hold something around 10 or 12 inches away from your eyes, is the limit of the human retina['s ability] to differentiate the pixels" Ref [cultofmac.com] )

Re:I blame apple... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467511)

1975 called.

They said for you to shut the fuck up.

Come on! We can make this meme work! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41468503)

I Blame Apple [google.com]

More half-baked Metro crap (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467073)

Good thing that Microsoft goes out of their way to force windows 8 users to use metro! You'll use it, and by Balmer's sweaty pit stains you'll like it!

What do you mean JUST windows 8 (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467079)

One of the arguments to leave XP behind is that it can't work at all beyond 100 DPI or the apps will break. I assumed Windows 8 Modern UI took care of this? This issue alone made me weary of a macbook as 200 DPI will not run so great in bootcamp with Windows with most of the apps all misrendered.

100 DPI is so ancient and it is time to get rid of it. The fact that Windows 8 has mostly but not 100% got rid of it is problematic. Lets hope Windows 9 fixes this or at least a service pack in win 8.

Not a biggie in 2012 but in 2016 1080p will be the next 1024 x 768.

Re:What do you mean JUST windows 8 (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467489)

One of the arguments to leave XP behind is that it can't work at all beyond 100 DPI or the apps will break. I assumed Windows 8 Modern UI took care of this? This issue alone made me weary of a macbook as 200 DPI will not run so great in bootcamp with Windows with most of the apps all misrendered.

Windows 7 does DPI scaling pretty well. There are a handful of misbehaved apps that break, but unless you're unlucky enough to regularly use one of these, you'll be fine. The usual stuff will work fine.

I don't know what happened with Windows 8 Metro. According to their blog, it was supposed to scale based on the screen resolution. But Metro has been such a clusterf*** that nothing would surprise me at this point.

Been waiting for this (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467083)

I don't know why it has taken Windows so long to handle high-ppi displays. I don't want the text and icons smaller, I want them the same size, only higher definition.

Re:Been waiting for this (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467147)

The problem is apps are not tested with anything other than 100dpi because thats what people use. People only use 100 dpi because that is what programs are optimized for. Only Apple and Google have broken this.

Again it shows just how much better your cell phone is with hardware accelerated smooth graphics, html 5, and ppi and dpi with web browser over your computer. Too much legacy is really holding everyone back. Old IE, ancient java, and older apps using GDI for the low 15% of users hold things back for the other 85%.

I have not even read up on HTML 5 yet as IE 7 and 8 wont die for a very long time. Even though they represent so little of hte market I can't lose them so everyone else needs to suffer.

Re:Been waiting for this (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467237)

As someone who is reading this from his Retina MacBook Pro, I can say that my computing experience is way beyond anything a phone could ever hope to offer.

Re:Been waiting for this (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467281)

I meant Windows desktops with mediocre hardware acceleration due to XP support/DirectX 9, IE 8, and crappy desktop resolutions, and websites degraded to support old IE users if the agent detects a desktop.

My android displays okcupid with beautiful gradients, animations, and graphics in web mode or the stand alone app. It looks like crap regardless of the browser on my Windows desktop because of legacy users.

Re:Been waiting for this (3, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467593)

I think it's crazy that Windows still does not support vector icons (SVG or a similar format). Instead, Windows icon files contain about a half dozen different sizes of raster images (each at multiple color depths!), maxing out at 256x256, and then scales these bitmaps as needed if there isn't an exact match.

256x256 is good enough for icons even on high-DPI displays, but this is still an incredibly clumsy and inelegant way of doing things. I can understand why you'd want a custom 16x16 icon because at that small size, scaling down a vector image usually won't work, and you need a hand-drawn substitute. But there is no good reason why two different bitmaps should be needed to render the same icon at 48x48 and 256x256. A single SVG could handle both quite nicely, and could handle even higher resolutions than that if needed.

Re:Been waiting for this (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468417)

What we need is a better standard than SVG for static vector images. Well, and significantly improved tools for producing them.

Re:Been waiting for this (3, Informative)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469173)

What we need is a better standard than SVG for static vector images.

In what ways does SVG fall short? It's a widely supported open standard, which does pretty much everything you need for 2D vector graphics. It can even be tweaked by hand, since it's XML-based. (I've done a couple of simple SVGs entirely in Notepad.)

Well, and significantly improved tools for producing them.

Adobe Illustrator has supported both import and export of SVG files for some time. And while Inkscape is far from perfect, it's a workable free solution for most non-professional users. Are there other, better vector editing tools that don't allow the creation of SVGs?

Re:Been waiting for this (1)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468947)

I don't know why it has taken Windows so long to handle high-ppi displays.

Because they managed out or Kimmed every developer who develops instead of facetimes.

Can I get a WTF? (1)

popo (107611) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467143)

Releases of new operating systems come with a large number of bugs, and that goes with the territory. In general, users are understanding and patient.

But these seem like alpha level bugs that should have been stomped out ages ago.

1080p displays are hardly unusual or non-standard. This does not bode well...

Re:Can I get a WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467187)

WTF?
 
You are welcome, I will be here all week.

Re:Can I get a WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467283)

It's about high PPI. not about total number of pixels.

Re:Can I get a WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467319)

But these seem like alpha level bugs that should have been stomped out ages ago.

Why pay for testers when you can have suckers, er, customers both test it and pay you?

To be fair (3, Informative)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467163)

This is not a Windows issue but rather the way that developers support High DPI in their apps.

Way too many developers are still using MFC and Win32 for UI development, which has no concept of High-DPI and requires scaling to be done manually. If the app doesn't even poll for the current DPI of the OS then nothing is going to scale correctly using those antiquated API's.

WPF automatically adjusts controls to the DPI settings of the OS, however if you don't use vector paths to render UI elements you might see an ugly bitmap stretch here and there. Haven't fully investigated Windows RT (the framework, not the tablet), but I am sure DPI awareness is also a fundamental part of its presentation framework. If a developer throws a 16x16 icon into an app resource, you are going to get and ugly scale.

When it comes to web pages then its anyone's guess how the web designer will support high DPI. Web pages are still mostly a bunch of static jpg's so scaling up something that looks like a line on regular DPI settings, only to see it smear and blur into a bar as shown in the article is purely the fault of the web page designer.

I do agree that as a whole Microsoft needs to do a little better job supporting High DPI across their API's, but most of what this article mentions comes from poor app/web design more then anything.

Re:To be fair (3, Informative)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467235)

It is up to the web browser. The only thing the web master should do is put a CSS if it is a mobile screen to take away some complexity or change the dimensions of the text for readability.

The web browser is what takes care of integrating the images with the operating system and rendering them on screen. Windows 8 supports high DPI but I am fairly shocked IE 10 which is an excellent browser contrary to past releases of IE does not fully support it. IE 10 needs to be patched asap as it is used in Windows 8 mobile as well where phones have bizaare resolutions and DPI combos.

Re:To be fair (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467259)

This is not a Windows issue but rather the way that developers support High DPI in their apps.

It's still sort of a Windows issue. The complaint the article raises is that there are no fine grained controls for adjusting dpi. The default setting was "too small" but flipping the switch to "make everything bigger" was too large. Also changing this doesn't change things on the desktop side, and adjusting things on the desktop side doesn't change the metro side. This should be reconciled sooner rather than later.

Like people have been saying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467167)

Windows has contained high-PPI support for YEARS already.

But what does this have to do with Australia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467173)

I come here to see stories about Australia! Don't the /. editors understand just how much my needy and fragile psyche depends upon believing that Americans are eagerly reading about my country?

Re:But what does this have to do with Australia? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467603)

Windows 8 is even worse in Australia. Since Australians hold their tablets upside down, all the text falls to the bottom of the screen.

Resolution independent layout (1)

fredmosby (545378) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467185)

I can't believe modern devices still don't support resolution independent layout, especially on tablets. All they would have to do is design displays to send their ppi as well as their resolution to the computer, then change the operating system to make that data available programs.

Re:Resolution independent layout (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467601)

I think you can already pull DPI from EDID information. However it requires a lot of coding to make the scaling work through the OS and apps properly, so it's not exactly that easy.

Re:Resolution independent layout (1)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469109)

I think you can already pull DPI from EDID information. However it requires a lot of coding to make the scaling work through the OS and apps properly, so it's not exactly that easy.

It's not hard either. The GPU does the scaling. On Android (but not on iOS) the font manager takes care of hinting text to the native resolution. OP talked about resolution-independent layout, which is indeed lacking across the board. It's not rocket science for anybody except Apple, who stupidly backed themselves into a corner by relying on fixed size screen resolution.

Only Android seems to do this right. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467203)

Honestly Android is the only OS I've seen that elegantly handles scaling to higher resolutions and varying aspect ratios. Hell, the SDK itself gives you many options to make sure your app scales well.

Owning an ipad 2 myself, I can say that iphone apps scale horribly to ipad, and apple themselves even had a blunder when they changed aspect ratios (lol letterbox phone.) It's no mystery why when they increased the resolution on the ipad 3, they had to evenly multiply from 1072x768.

Any competent mobile OS should be able to handle this. In todays world of very high resolution displays, desktop ones should as well. When microsoft decided "let's make windows work for mobile platforms" and created metro, they should have taken this into consideration, yet oddly enough, they didn't.

Linux isn't much better though, in fact its worse in some ways in my experience. For some reason I always run into major problems with font scaling in x11.

iOS handles varying screen sizes quite well (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468253)

Owning an ipad 2 myself, I can say that iphone apps scale horribly to ipad

It's a simple 2x scaling, but it does have one redeeming aspect - if the images are larger than original size, you get more pixels.

It's no mystery why when they increased the resolution on the ipad 3, they had to evenly multiply from 1072x768.

They did not have to but it made everyone's life much simpler.

Apple themselves even had a blunder when they changed aspect ratios (lol letterbox phone.)

See? They didn't have to @2x new resolutions all the time. The iPhone 5 is proof of it. As for the aspect ratio changing, most apps needed only minor adjustments to auto-resizing rules. What people who claim iOS cannot handle different screen sizes well always forget is that the screen changes size every time you take a call, and the call status bar drops down... the iPhone 5 is just the display going the other direction in size, so the existing rules app developers already had in place mostly worked.

In iOS6 there is an amazing new API for Autolayout [techotopia.com] and a number of classes that let you do extremely complex non-linear layout, so to claim the OS cannot handle application scaling well is dramatically wrong.

Re:Only Android seems to do this right. (1)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469129)

When microsoft decided "let's make windows work for mobile platforms" and created metro, they should have taken this into consideration, yet oddly enough, they didn't.

Maybe it wasn't on the Powerpoint slide.

Life was better when (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467239)

there was only one true screen resolution: 640 x 480

Back then the only thing you had to worry about was whether to support 256 colors or stick with 16.

Re:Life was better when (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467571)

80x25 should be enough for anybody.

(yes, 25, not 24)

Re:Life was better when (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468933)

(yes, 25, not 24)

Them's fightin' words.

(Ignoring for the moment that you're 100% correct, everyone coded to 80x24 anyway.)

Re:Life was better when (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41469601)

When exactly was this? I don't remember ever having a single graphics card that could do 640x480x8bit and couldn't muster a higher resolution with fewer colors.

EGA couldn't even get 640x480, it maxed out at 640x350.

VGA only had a stock 256-color mode at 320x200 (0x13, rectangular pixels and all), though using the Mode X family of tweaks it could run up to 360x480x8b with a stock VGA monitor, or 400x600x8b with an SVGA monitor; conversely, 640x480 wasn't the only, or even highest, 4bit mode -- you could get it up to 800x600x4b with an SVGA monitor.

Windows 8 might be do or die (1)

Edward Nardella (1503565) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467241)

IMO MS needs to make windows 8 a great product to succeed as a corporation in the coming years. I don't think they get that.

Re:Windows 8 might be do or die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41469021)

Why? They're still making money with Windows 7, and I would think that they can survive another bad OS, since they do so every other OS release.

Woo Hoo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41467253)

No steenkin Windoze 8 in Retina iPads, iPhones or MacBook Pros!

Steve rests blissfully in peace.

This app is best viewed in ... (4, Interesting)

Misagon (1135) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467317)

The Metro APIs were designed for web front-end programmers, not people who write for real GUI toolkits. You can build quite competent Metro apps in HTML and Javascript, and if you reach any limits, your web shop could hire a third party to write a module in C# or C++ to work around it.

The API for web programmers includes also rules that that apps should be made for a finite set of fixed screen sizes. Not resolutions -- screen sizes. Metro was never designed to be scalable.

This is not only a Windows problem, though. MacOS X on Retina(tm) displays is just as bad, but there the OS draws everything twice as big to begin with and scales down if needed when compositing windows. Apple never cared about hinting anyway, so all controls and labels are just as fuzzy scaled to 125% as always.

This is not a Microsoft problem. (3)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467389)

So Microsoft is being blamed for graphical limitations they had nothing to do with. From what I'm seeing the problem isn't that elements within the GUI are scaling poorly, it's that designers didn't account for the fact that some day someone might want to blow up their graphics on a much higher resolution display. It's ridiculous and unfair to blame Microsoft for this considering this would affect any high res display in any OS. What do you think happens when you run an iPhone 3 app on an iPad? By the logic displayed in this article that should also be Apple's fault.

Anyone with the most trivial experience in resizing photos will understand that this is an unavoidable problem. There's no practical way to fix it unless you rebuild the app to account for wildly varied resolutions. You could use vector art, but it's not a realistic solution for a lot of things. There's no elegant solution but hopefully the pixel density is high enough that these artifacts aren't all that obvious. This is one of those situations where it's on the third party developers can only fix the problem after it's arisen. Microsoft can't fix it for them.

Re:This is not a Microsoft problem. (0, Troll)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#41467563)

Microsoft developed the APIs. Give developers a way to use an API in a stupid way, and they will do so.

Still, could be worse: I remember the days when our video drivers had to always report 72DPI to Windows regardless of what the real value was because half the apps would render garbage if it wasn't set to 72.

YUO FAIL IT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41468339)

moans and groans[ very own shiiter, demise. You don't

Macs with retina displays also have issues (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#41468365)

How is this described only as a Windows problem?

Whaaaaa (1)

AtomicDevice (926814) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469043)

IE10 HAVE RENDER ISSUES ME NO BELIEVE.

I get that it's really hard to make a browser do everything right, but if you're going to push IE as such a major competitor to other browsers, maybe make it less of a steaming pile? The web browser is basically a commodity nowadays, drawing things right is just about the only thing that matters.

A Solution (2)

CityZen (464761) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469153)

The issue comes into being most likely due to off-by-a-fraction errors when doing non-integer scaling of multiple elements.

One solution is just to get all your fractions right across the entire rendering pipeline. That is hard, and maybe impossible in some cases.

An easier solution is just to render to a canvas that is an integer multiple of the "base" or "expected" case, then finally apply a single scaling from that canvas to the display size at the last moment before the image is displayed.

For instance, let's say that software was developed for a 100 dpi display, and for a given device, that works out to a 1366x768 resolution (if its screen were 100 dpi). Now the screen is really 1920x1080, but that is not an integer multiple of 1366x768, so instead we render to a canvas that is 2x both dimensions: 2732x1536. The rendering here should be without any issues, since it's an integer multiple of 1366x768. From here, there are two paths to follow. If the display controller of the device can automatically scale 2732x1536 to 1920x1080, then let it do that. Otherwise, have the GPU scale the the canvas size to the display size, then display that. (Typically, the display controller can do a better job with multiple tap filters.)

Note that this requires extra rendering power and bandwidth vs. the first solution. However, that's what hardware is good at, right?

Note also that doing non-integer scaling will always result in what looks like "blurriness" around what would have otherwise been sharp pixel edges. This is not avoidable, really (unless you want really ugly results where some lines are fatter than others).

Not just high PPI displays (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#41469169)

Large displays too. Look how much space Windows 8 wastes on a 20 inch monitor rendering overly large tiles. People with large monitors and mice and keyboards should be able to zoom out and see more tiles at once if they so wish.
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