New Chrome beta sharpens text on Windows

The newly released Chrome 37 Beta addresses a user request almost as old as Chrome itself, and is a step forward for Web security.

Seth Rosenblatt Former Senior Writer / News
Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covered Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.
Seth Rosenblatt

A Google slide that shows how the new text rendering on Windows will make it easier to read text on high-resolution screens. Google

It's taken four and a half years but the engineering gurus toiling away on Google Chrome have finally improved how the browser renders text on Windows.

The biggest change in Chrome 37 Beta, announced on Thursday, is support for DirectWrite, a Windows application programming interface (API) that makes text look crisp with sharp edges even on high-resolution screens. Chrome previously rendered text with the Graphics Device Interface, which dates back to the mid-1980s. The bug to get Chrome to support DirectWrite was filed in October 2009, when Chrome was barely a year old.

Chrome engineer Emil Eklund said in a blog post announcing the new beta that it took this long to make the change because it "required extensive re-architecting and streamlining of Chrome's font rendering engine."

Other changes in Chrome 37 Beta, which is due to graduate to the most-heavily used Stable channel in around six weeks, apply to Chrome for all desktops as well as Chrome OS and Chrome for Android.

One is support for the HTML5 < dialog > element, so developers can make styled dialog boxes in their Web apps that can be controlled with a JavaScript API. Another activates the Web Cryptography JavaScript API by default, so that developers can perform cryptographic operations such as hashing, signature generation/verification, and encryption in the browser.

The full change log for Chrome 37 Beta is available here.