One of the significant and most legitimate complaints about Windows versus MacOS is that the latter does a much better job with high-resolution screens than the former. Windows 10 has alleviated some of that discrepancy but it is still not nearly as good as MacOS at properly scaling applications based on display resolution.
Microsoft worked hard on improving this so-called “high-dots-per-inch” performance in last year’s Anniversary Update, but it did not stop there. It put a bunch of work into improving high-DPI support in the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update as well and it took to its blog on Tuesday to give an idea of what is coming.
Simply put, Windows wasn’t designed in a time when we had access to high resolutions like 4K UHD (3,840 x 1,920) that pack a lot of pixels into the same physical square inch. And, unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t design into the operating system the ability to adjust how applications display text and user interface elements all the way up to the DPI.
In the past, Windows has required each developer to specifically adjust every application element for every possible DPI. For example, a developer would have to make icons that are nice and sharp for the Surface Pro 4’s 192DPI as well as ones for legacy displays running at 96DPI.
That is an expensive proposition given how many different Windows devices are available, and while Microsoft made some improvements in Anniversary Edition, there are still scenarios such as multiple monitor configurations that cause serious issues for how applications are displayed. The following image is an example of all of the things that can go wrong when screen elements are not adjusted for different DPI.
Creators Update should help with that, with improvements for two constituencies, developers and end users. For developers, Microsoft is implementing a number of changes, from continued improvement to how Windows 10 handles multiple monitors with different DPI and how it automatically scales DPI for dialogs.
End users should benefit from Microsoft’s work in Creators Update as well. First, they will be able to override default DPI scaling and select how scaling should be performed. Second, Microsoft is building in new enhanced system DPI scaling that should help with those applications that will likely never be updated to work with high-DPI displays. Finally, desktop icons are getting some work to make sure they scale correctly.
There is a host of new and highly technical details that are at the heart of how Microsoft is working to improve how Windows 10 handles high-DPI displays. There is also plenty of work remaining. If you are a developer or just technically inclined, then you will find some fascinating reading in Microsoft’s blog post. Otherwise, just rest easy knowing that your high-DPI machine will likely look better once you install Creators Update in a week or so.