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Improve font rendering to be on par with Firefox or at least original Edge

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The thing that always made me swithc back to Firefox when trying out Chromium based web browsers was font rendering. You can even see that in the UI of Chromium-Edge, where the Segoe UI font is much thinner than in the rest of the Windows UI.

 

Some websites, such as reddit.com display text that is not only more blurry than in Firefox (and sometimes original Edge), but also seems to lack contrast - the letters are somewhat brighter, much more grey instead of black like in Firefox.

 

Here are screenshots that will best show what I mean:

 

First one is reddit on Firefox:

 

1-fx.PNG

 

And this one is on all Chromium based browsers, including Edge:

 

2-ce.PNG

Notice how the letters on the second screenshot are much harder to read...

19 Replies

@Deleted 

This is a great feature request.  Thank you for that suggestion.

 

Gabriel

I also have this issue, its one of the main things i dislike about chromium/new edge
it seems that the cleartype settings defined in the windows OS are not honoured by chromium/new edge

this is often an accessibility issue for me forcing me to further increase font size, zoom, bold which have their own unwanted side effects

in the mean time this chrome extension seems to the best workaround for me:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/font-expander/fnhfmlkfcdodpcaenlbfjfcahannopkj

likely unrelated but videos in chromium/new edge similarly seem to ignore the driver defined colour settings i use, i have the assumption/perception that these issues are connected as if the "rendering engine" in chromium is completely unable to inherit configurations from the OS, despite most other software doing so

@Deleted 

That is an interesting discovery you have made and I will be sure to bring it to the product team's attention.

 

Gabriel

@v-gapart - thank you very much for taking this into consideration! Upon searching for more info about this issue, I found this source code modification: https://codereview.chromium.org/2674883002/diff/1/skia/BUILD.gn

So a simple change of "SK_GAMMA_CONTRAST=0.5" to "1.0" makes the fonts more bold and on par with both Firefox and the old Edge. The screenshot below shows the original Chromium/Edge font rendering (on the right side) and the left one is with the modified contrast value:

 

relanium.PNG

 

There has been some discussion about this, but most of such threads died out after a while, for example, here: https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=534732

This is the most annoying thing about all Chromium-based products. They do not align with the system font rendering, and the fonts are so thin and low-contrast at small sizes. I don't know how it doesn't bother more people. At any rate, I would hope MS would fix this in Edge before the final release. Millions of people are going to be forced to use new Edge on mostly low-grade corporate computers and kiosks without the permissions to install alternative browsers... at least help it to look readable and native to the OS. If it is a question of "following Google" to maintain exact Chrome compatibility, at least provide a flag to change this.

I cannot believe this has marked as "Not applicable". I hate all of the Chromium browsers because of this bug. The way they render fonts is disgusting. This is why I always return to Firefox.

@pozxc If you haven't tried it yet, we've diversified our options for font settings, which you can check out here: edge://settings/fonts. We hope that's a satisfactory resolution!

 

Fawkes (they/them)
Project & Community Manager - Microsoft Edge

@fawkesThank you for your reply and the suggestion. I've tried the most recent canary version, which is 81.0.375.0, and all I see in edge://settings/fonts is some regular font family and font size settings:

 

clipboard_image_0.png

 

What I and the original poster tries to mention is the problem that all Chromium browsers have on Windows.

The following screenshot is from Mozilla Firefox:

 

clipboard_image_1.png

 

And the following one is from Chromium Edge:

 

clipboard_image_2.png

 

I hope the difference is noticable.

 

Bonus:

 

This one is from the non-Chromium Edge (almost equal to Firefox):

 

clipboard_image_3.png

@pozxc @fawkes @v-gapart   The "wimpy font" rendering (thin, grayed out) of EdgeChromium has been a topic of discussion on this Forum since April-May, including threads in which folks with more skill than I have done pixel-by-pixel analysis of the differences between EdgeChromium, EdgeClassic and Firefox rendering. 

 

The bad news is that this is the first thread (of at least a half dozen) in which Microsoft employees have entered the discussion.  The good news is that Microsoft employees have entered the discussion and now, perhaps, Microsoft will pay some attention to the rendering issue.

 

I want to thank Anonymous for pointing out the possibility of using Chrome extensions to bring EdgeChromium fonts closer to the EdgeClassic and Firefox level of readability.  I've found three that seem to do a good job (Chrome Font Rendering Enhancer**, Font Rendering Enhancer, and Font Expander**).  All work slightly differently, with slightly different results, but each of them bring EdgeChromium font rendering close to the level of EdgeClassic and Firefox.

 

I've elected to use Font Rendering Enhancer as a workaround, but it seems to me that users should not have to find and install extensions from the Chrome Store to get basic functionality like a readable font.  That's Microsoft's job to fix, and fix it Microsoft should before force-switching users from EdgeClassic to EgdeChromium.

 

================

 

**I should note, as a caution, that both Font Expander and Chrome Font Rendering Enhancer are given permission to access your browsing history.  Font Rendering Enhancer requires no permissions.

@tomscharbach An excellent post. The edge://settings/fonts do not solve the problem. This is not about font pt sizing nor font typefaces. This is about font width and/or antialiasing. These are completely separate from the font's point size or typeface. 

 

Compare Edge Chromium vs Edge EdgeHTML. I've enlarged the "D" from the third word, "December", in the paragraph. 

 

2019-12-28_12-33-31.png

 

2019-12-28_12-34-32.png

 

Note the vertical line on the "D"

 

:facepalm:Chromium shades the left side a light color, making the text blend into the background (?? why ??).

 

:stareyes:EdgeHTML shades left half a dark color, making a crisp edge on the left (and thus easier to read).

 

Please do see the font anti-aliasing and font width. This is a rendering problem, not a customization problem.

@ikjadoon@tomscharbach , and @pozxc: Thank you all for taking the time to share those details and images! You've given us a clearer perspective on what exactly you'd like to see improved with the Chromium fonts and their rendering. I can certainly see the value of this suggestion, and thus, will be discussing it with our Settings product team.

 

Fawkes (they/them)
Project & Community Manager - Microsoft Edge

 

 

@fawkes Much appreciated for acknowledging this sincere request: Chromium fonts rendering adds too light/similar-to-the-background-color pixels at the edges of letters, making the text appear too thin, too light, and thus harder to read versus other browsers, notable EdgeHTML.

 

I think you will find a few people who prefer Chromium's thinner font (which may be pure preference or simply expecting what you've always had), but I think most typical users prefer the sharper, darker style (like EdgeHTML, Firefox, IE, and even other Chromium browsers have used). 

 

Some more thoughts: all links below include cropped, zoomed text views to illustrate the root cause:

There are various solutions (like SK_GAMMA_CONTRAST suggested above). Of course, the ideal is everyone getting the font rendering they want, but--maybe I'm biased--but I think the text is more readable for far more users with the sharper edges. Even as a webdev, clean minimalist design should still be inviting & painless to read. Chromium's default rendering doesn't fit that bill.

@ikjadoon "I think the text is more readable for far more users with the sharper edges."

 

First, thank you for taking the time to locate and link references for @fawkes and the Microsoft team.

 

Second, I agree with you about sharper edges.  I don't have any hard evidence, but my guess, too, is that most people, given a comparison and a choice, would pick the font that is more readable.

 

Third, for @fawkes to consider, the "wimpy font" issue is an accessibility issue for older people.  I am the volunteer IT director for a small railroad museum, and I've become familiar with the needs of older volunteers, whose vision isn't as sharp as it once was, even with bionic cataracts and good, clear distance vision.  A font should be easily readable for 90% of users on a 24" 1920x1080 reasonable-quality (e.g. $250-$300, non-glare non-touch) monitor, and Chrome/Chromium's font rendering is marginal, at best.  Of the dozen or so 65+ member-volunteers I serve, I have four that won't be able to work with EdgeChromium's font rendering without eyestrain, and that's not a good situation. 

 

Fourth, if Microsoft decides to follow Googe's lead rather than the lead of other Chromium-based browser developers who have made the font more readable, perhaps Microsoft would consider putting a toggle into Settings, or build a Microsoft extension that will allow users to increase the darkness and crispness of the font as rendered.

@tomscharbach Thanks for telling us more about some real-world usage and why this is an important feature. Accessibility across Microsoft products is one of our top priorities -- I had actually already mentioned it when I surfaced this font rendering discussion to our team, so we're right there with you. ;)

 

Fawkes (they/them)
Project & Community Manager - Microsoft Edge

This is amazing news that this issue has been discussed by the team. Thank you! :)

I think the problem is easier to see if you checking with Chinese characters. I have several screenshots in https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/discussions/font-too-thin/m-p/1060974#M18918

 

Hope it to be fixed soon.

Glad to see this has finally gotten attention. Thanks to everyone on the thread for providing so much leg work and detailed examples. And thank you @fawkes for your empathy and open mindedness in hearing us out.

@salvino Of course! I'm happy to help whenever possible.

 

And to let y'all know: I've confirmed with the product team that this is on their radar and part of their considerations. Thanks again for all the input.

 

Fawkes (they/them)
Project & Community Manager - Microsoft Edge

@fawkes 

So glad to see there is a discussion with the developers about this important issue... I am using the new MS Edge/w Chrome base and it is outstanding except that it shares this same font rendering issue that has been discussed here...

 

My work around has been to use that "font rendering enhancer" extension from the Chrome extension store...and it makes the difference!  The extension has been around many years and if it were to disappear, i'd be forced to go back to using Firefox for my main browser.  Google doesn't seem to care, so it's really up to you ms edge developers to try to correct this issue...i shouldn't need to use the extension to solve the problem...

 

I'm so hoping your team can correct this as i really REALLY want to continue to use MS Edge (w/chrome) as my main browser!  :smile: