Windows 10 Anniversary Update fixes DPI scaling issues for applications

Windows 10 now improves DPI scaling to prevent blurry text and incorrect element rendering on high-resolution displays.

Best hidden features Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Since high-DPI displays became mainstream on devices, Microsoft has been working to improve Windows 10 to properly handle DPI scaling throughout the operating system and on multiple displays scenarios.

While today Windows Store apps can properly handle display-scaling, it’s still a big problem for traditional desktop applications. And as more devices include high-resolution displays, the pressure to provide a consistent scaling grows significantly.

Without proper scaling, applications won’t render correctly showing blurry text and UI components, incorrect window sizing, and layout problems, such as clipped text or other UI elements.

Although previous versions of Windows 10 (including Windows 8.1 and even Windows 7) also shipped with DPI scaling improvements, Microsoft continues to make changes on every new update.

On the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, improvements has been added to make traditional desktop applications scale properly on high-DPI displays, and on multiple monitor setups. However, scaling isn’t a problem easy to fix, and the company is investing a lot of work to make the experience better.

According to an article at the Microsoft TechNet website, Windows 10 version 1607, improves DPI scaling in some areas.

On the non-client area scaling (NCA) of an application, the software giant is aware that elements, such as title bar, menus, buttons, and other components don’t display correctly, and app developers can’t do anything about it because it’s the operating system’s job to display them correctly. This now changes with the new update as Windows 10 can properly scale these parts of an application.

Windows 10 DPI scaling problems
Non-Client Area not scaling for DPI (left) and scaling correctly (right)

Then there is mixed-mode DPI scaling where developers can tell the operating system that an app can dynamically scale, or the app depends on Windows to scale. In this scenario, developers have the choice to update an app with a new user-interface that can scale or let the operating system handle scaling. On the new update, Windows 10 can work with these kind of scenarios where the application can be designed to handle some scaling, and then let the operating system handle the rest.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update mixed-mode scaling
Notepad’s primary window is natively scaling while Windows is scaling the Print dialog

An example where you’ll see these new improvements is Office, as Microsoft is now updating their apps to scale better on high-DPI displays. In addition, the company is also updating its Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) framework to support the new changes.

Although there is still a lot work to do, the new scaling improvements is a welcome addition that will help developers to update and design new applications that dynamically scale on any screen resolution.