'Blurry fonts' bug KB 2670838 persists with IE11 and Windows 7

Six-month-old 'fuzzy fonts' bug that hit Firefox and Chrome is still around -- and may now ensnare Windows users upgrading to IE11

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One reader reports that he got rid of the problem in Firefox by going to the options menu within Mozilla Firefox > Options > Options > Advanced > and Unchecking "Use Hardware Acceleration when available." The reader's using an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200 video card on a Toshiba Satellite laptop -- which is not one of the bad cards on the KB 2670838 list.

Poster access-mdb on the Windows Secrets forum used a less drastic approach to fix Firefox: On the Firefox about:config page, set gfx.content.azure.enabled to False (the general fix-all approach I recommended in May).

On the same thread, ron007 says he's having the same problem with Office 2013 and Windows 8.1. He describes three options: 1) disable hardware acceleration in the application (such as Word); 2) hack the registry to disable hardware acceleration in general; and 3) use the Windows 7 display setting dialog to turn off hardware acceleration. He also suggests that if those approaches don't work, you can turn off high contrast in Windows 8 and/or hack the registry to fix blurring in PowerPoint 2013.

On the DSLReports forum, SpHeRe31459 says he's seen the bug appear on older Radeon HD 3400 and 2400 hardware. His suggestion is to fix Firefox by setting gfx.content.azure.enabled to False and/or gfx.direct2d.disabled to True. Of course, those fixes won't help with Internet Explorer or Chrome.

If it's any consolation, Mozilla has filed a Firefox bug on the problem, though it isn't clear if the bug only covers the original KB 2670838 problem or if it extends to the IE11-on-Windows 7 manifestation, or even Windows 8 or 8.1. A problem like this will leave Microsoft, Mozilla, and Google pointing fingers at one another -- lots of good that does those of us who use their products.

At this point, Microsoft is quite aware of the problem. It's existed for a long, long time and the Microsoft Answers forum is peppered with complaints. Whether the company will take the reports seriously enough to solve the problem remains to be seen. Keep that in mind when you read about IE11's new performance, standards, and security improvements. The upgrade on Windows 7 may not go as well as you hope.

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