A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

Summary: Over the past few months I’ve heard one complaint from a handful of Internet Explorer 9 users: the text is unacceptably fuzzy. Now, Microsoft has released an acknowledgment of the problem, along with a fix. Here are the details.

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Over the past few months I’ve heard one complaint from a handful of Internet Explorer 9 users: the text is unacceptably fuzzy.  I’ve never noticed the problem myself, but other people are sure sensitive to it, including a Microsoft developer who posted instructions last February on how to fix the problem (by disabling ClearType).

Now, Microsoft has released an acknowledgment of the problem, along with an update intended to fix it. The accompanying support article explains the symptoms and the cause:

Text displayed in some core fonts appears blurred in Internet Explorer 9 on a computer that is running Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, or Windows Server 2008 R2

SYMPTOMS

Text that is displayed in the following core fonts in Windows Internet Explorer 9 appears blurred, when you compare it to text in Windows Internet Explorer 8:

  • Arial (10-point and 11-point)
  • Verdana (9-point and 10-point)
  • Tahoma (11-point and 13-point)

CAUSE

This issue occurs because of a design change to rendering is made in Internet Explorer 9. By default, Internet Explorer 9 uses sub-pixel positioned ClearType to render text by using DirectWrite, whereas Internet Explorer 8 uses whole-pixel positioned ClearType to render text by using the Microsoft Windows graphics device interface (GDI).

Update: This fix was made available earlier this week (the "second Patch Tuesday") as a Recommended update. If you've chosen tlo automatically install Windows updates, it might already be available. To check whether it's already installed, go to Windows Update in Control Panel, click View Update History in the sidebar on the left, and check for an update with the identifier KB2545698.

Direct download links are available in that support article for all supported Windows versions. Here are shortcuts to the Windows 7 downloads:

Windows 7 x86

Windows 7 x64

Topics: Software, Browser, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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Talkback

26 comments
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  • I have an easier solution: switch to OS X

    Fonts in OS X are never fuzzy because Apple uses a superior font rendering process that no one in the industry can match. I left Winblowz and its fuzzy fonts 5 years ago and haven't looked back since! YEAH!!!
    woulddie4apple
    • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

      @woulddie4apple

      congrats... feel better?
      scs9282
    • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

      Here is an interesting read on the differences in font technologies. As someone has both used PC, and Mac for many years, I can now say I enjoy the cleaner, sharper look of fonts on PC, making them easier to read on screen. I find Safari's fonts on PC look odd, this page has a good explanation.
      http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2007/06/12.html
      Braden999
    • I am reading this page on a Mac

      @woulddie4apple

      I don't like the font treatment.

      But nice trolling.
      Ed Bott
      • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

        @Ed Bott Hi Ed, is ZDNet working on some system which will take care of the trolls who are littering the talkback ? This will ensure that people who really care about the topics can discuss it properly.
        1773
      • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

        @1773 Gee, I wonder what idiot flagged your post. You only get one guess :)
        sackbut
      • Working on it

        @1773

        Our engineers are working on it. I don't have any details or timetables to share, though.
        Ed Bott
    • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

      @woulddie4apple
      methinks you are more impressed with your own comments than 99% of the other readers here.
      thanks for your opinions - they are worth every penny i paid for them.
      BitBanger_USA
    • grow up

      @woulddie4apple
      Nobody cares what you think, like most looser fan boys you add nothing. BTW Safari is the worst browser out there, no one uses it.
      marks055@...
      • I don't know which is worse

        A troll (aka woulddie4apple) or your woeful lack of knowledge. For your enlightenment, Safari has been slowly increasing its "market share" even though it is a minority browser, so people do use it. As far as being horrible, well, to each his own.
        ego.sum.stig
      • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

        @marks055@... Why do people isn't on spelling the word "loser" as "looser"? Makes you wonder who the actual loser is, eh?<a href="http://www.findacellphoneuser.com/">Reverse Cell Phone Lookup</a> | <a href="http://www.outdoorlightsgalore.com/">Landscape Lighting</a>
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      • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

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  • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

    Fonts look 10000x better in Firefox and IE9 now.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

    Here use these and everything will look fine, standard Redmond issue rose tinted glasses. Guaranteed you will never find fault.
    Alan Smithie
    • What's your problem?

      @Alan Smithie They admitted the issue and fixed it.
      otaddy
  • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

    Clear type on XP worked better. It was either/or. Not this useless fine-tuning crap you get with Win7 that makes no difference whatsoever. The fonts still look jagged.
    ScorpioBlue
  • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

    was auto released via windows update a couple of days back.
    alamfour
    • It's rated Recommended, not Important

      @alamfour

      Thanks for that detail. Because it's a Recommended update, it won't be installed automatically for everyone. Depends on your Windows Update settings. I updated the post to reflect the difference.
      Ed Bott
      • RE: A fix for fuzzy fonts in IE9

        @Ed Bott It's also still worth pointing out as I had installed it but didn't realise it had improved things, because I don't use IE9 and had hardware acceleration disabled in FF5, because of this issue.

        It's a vast improvement. There are still some problems with certain sites/fonts/colours/sizes, but I can now leave h/w acceleration on without my eyes bleeding.

        It's great that Microsoft acknowledged the issue and fixed it.
        LeoD
  • What is this? Some kind of joke?

    Now, you're back to writing Microsoft articles?
    (kidding)
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate