Google dropped Chrome support for several older operating systems, including Windows XP and Vista, in April 2016.
The company started to remove code from Chromium, the open source foundation of the Chrome browser, to reflect the change in support and to simply the browser's code base by concentrating solely on Windows 7 and newer versions of Windows.
Google employees began to remove bits of code from Chromium as early as January 2016, and several of the things that got removed may affect the font rendering of the web browser.
Issue 579678, Remove GDI font path, confirms that Google removed GDI font rendering, the "disable direct write" switch, and associated code from Chrome.
This patch will remove the gdi font rendering, the "disable-direct-write" switch, and associated code. All font rendering will now be done by DirectWrite.
Google Chrome will use DirectWrite exclusively for font rendering on Windows as of Chrome 52.
The change takes effect in Chrome 52 which
is currently available on the beta channel has been released in the meantime. The next stable update will move the browser to that version however and it is then that the bulk of users will notice the change.
Most modern browsers use DirectWrite on Windows for font rendering, and it works well in most cases.
Update: Note that Google has removed the flag from its Chrome web browser to disable DirectWrite. It is no longer part of it, which also means that there is no option right now to disable DirectWrite anymore on Windows machines.
With the option gone, there is little left for affected users to do. While Chrome extensions such as Font Rendering Enhancer may help resolve the issue for some, others may have no recourse in this regard if extensions won't resolve the font rendering issue on their end.
Depending on the system, display settings and display drivers, DirectWrite may however cause fonts to render worse. Users affected by the issue could set the flag on the chrome://flags page to disable DirectWrite font rendering in Chrome up until now.
It is unclear right now how other Chromium-based browsers, Vivaldi or Opera for instance, are affected by the change. Since the code has been removed from Chromium, companies would have to add the code again to continue offering support for disabling DirectWrite in web browsers.
Another thing that is unclear is how many Chrome users are affected by font rendering issues in the browser, and how many managed to fix the rendering issues by disabling DirectWrite.
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