Microsoft Research Announces Screen Display Breakthrough At COMDEX/Fall ’98

LAS VEGAS, Nov. 15, 1998 — Tonight at COMDEX/Fall ’98, Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft Corp., unveiled an unprecedented innovation in font display technology during his keynote address. The software, called Microsoft® ClearType
font technology, dramatically improves font display resolution and marks a genuine breakthrough in screen readability.

ClearType improves display resolution by as much as 300 percent and works especially well on existing LCD devices, including desktop flat panels, laptops and smaller devices such as Handheld and Palm-size PCs. By profoundly improving the on-screen reading experience, ClearType font technology enables new product categories such as electronic books (eBooks), while benefiting the display of existing spreadsheets, word processing documents and Internet content.

Gates hailed ClearType as a leap forward in screen sharpness during his COMDEX keynote address. Assisted by typography expert and Microsoft researcher Bill Hill, Gates demonstrated the technology to thousands of people. To provide an intimate view of the new software, Microsoft also will show the software on desktop and laptop PCs at its COMDEX booth, L#2202.

“We have overcome a major obstacle to ubiquitous on-screen reading – bad readability,” said Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft chief technology officer. “The astounding results we have achieved with this software innovation give us a level of readability that wasn’t expected for perhaps another five years. And it works without new hardware on existing displays.”

ClearType was developed at Microsoft Research by engineers and font experts under the direction of Dick Brass, vice president for technology development at Microsoft.

“ClearType makes inexpensive screens look as good as the finest displays, and it makes the finest displays look almost as good as paper,” said Brass, who heads Microsoft’s efforts to improve electronic reading and develop eBook technologies. “For the first time, we can deliver an on-screen reading experience that approaches the comfort of printed type. This is exciting – and enabling – technology.”

ClearType font technology gains its 200 percent to 300 percent increase in image resolution by capitalizing on the physical properties of LCD panels used in laptops, Handheld and Palm-size PCs and, increasingly, desktop monitors. With its proprietary signal processing techniques, this technology provides image quality that anti-aliasing and other conventional approaches to font enhancement cannot alone deliver. With ClearType, letter shapes and character spacing appear more detailed, more finely crafted and more like printed fonts.

“The increased clarity and definition of text resulting from the application of ClearType technology is stunning,” said Trey Smith, vice president, advanced consumer products, Compaq Computer Corp. “This breakthrough should accelerate the development of long-discussed form factors such as eBooks.”

Because ClearType works entirely at the operating system level, it can be used to improve existing applications as well as enable exciting new devices. The technology has been initially demonstrated with fonts, but Microsoft sees broad applications for the resolution-enhancing technique in the realm of graphics. While Microsoft envisions implementing the ClearType technology into products, no specific dates for release have been announced.

ClearType builds upon a tradition of dedication to high-quality font technology at Microsoft. Microsoft has spent years continually improving its display and font capabilities, including the development of the TrueType font display system and TrueType fonts.

“Looking forward, we see that ClearType will help commercialize electronic books and other new devices that require booklike displays,” Brass said. “It’s the single most important development in font technology in years, and it will be a must-have feature for eBooks. But ClearType will also improve the reading quality of everything from the tiny displays in cell phones to giant spreadsheets on the desktop.”

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. The goal is to develop new technologies to simplify and enhance users’ PC experience, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and facilitate the creation of new types of software. Microsoft Research started with a handful of researchers and has grown steadily to include more than 300 computer scientists and engineers in a wide variety of areas, including speech technology, databases, user interface technology and 3-D graphics.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and

personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft and ClearType are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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