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Microsoft issues ClearType technology release

Redmond, WA. - 7 April 1999
Microsoft has issued an Update on ClearType Font Technology and LCD Displays, to help vendors produce hardware that can take advantage of ClearType font rendering.
Update on ClearType Font Technology and LCD Displays

Microsoft ClearType™ font technology improves upon the traditional PC "on/off" pixel rendering by addressing the area beyond the traditional pixel boundary. With ClearType, letters on the computer screen appear smooth, not jagged. This improvement in readability will accelerate the adoption of electronic books (eBooks) and the overall migration from paper to electronic forms.

ClearType font technology will work with existing systems. Readability will be dramatically improved on color LCD monitors with a digital interface, such as those found in laptops and high-quality flat-panel desktop displays.

Microsoft is evaluating how to include ClearType in future products. No release dates have been set. However, the following information is provided to help LCD display designers make choices that will ensure their products are compatible with ClearType font technology.

  • The interface between an LCD display and the graphics controller should be digital rather than analog. Most handheld, palm-held, and laptop display devices already are. Newer flat-panel displays that use current digital video interface standards are suitable. Preferably, a single standard will be adopted by the industry, but this is not critical to ClearType as long as no digital-to-analog conversion takes place.

  • Presently, the optimal LCD configuration is one in which the RGB pixel alignment is orthogonal to the direction of reading; in other words, it is parallel to the main vertical stems of text. In simple terms, when reading English text (for example), the best configuration is to have the RGB "striping" run in vertical stripes down the screen (with the red sub-pixel of each RGB pixel on the left).

    Vertical RGB striped displays are certain to be supported in the first release of products that use ClearType technologies. Support for other configurations will follow in later product releases.

  • The better the resolution of your LCD display, the better ClearType will look on it -- 110 dots per inch (dpi) is better than 88dpi; 200dpi would be even better.

Microsoft will propose requirements similar to these guidelines in future versions of the PC design guide to help manufacturers ensure that their designs will work well with ClearType font technology.

Call to action for LCD design and ClearType font technology:

  • Check that your LCD designs meet the guidelines described in this article to ensure that they will look great with ClearType technology.
  • For additional technical information (and future announcements), see Microsoft's ClearType information page.

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article posted 14 May 1999 and last updated 14 May 1999.

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