My web browsing experience, at least at work, is still not beautiful. The text that I read has no font smoothing on Windows XP, in any browser but Internet Explorer.
As an aside, here’s why: Microsoft has ClearType turned on in Internet Explorer in XP (The most common OS) by default. The result of this is that all the other browsers look poor in comparison.
This seems like a strategic move by Microsoft to give their browser an advantage, but it also means that ClearType is not turned on in Windows XP by default for all views. Poor Windows XP users.
I realize that I can turn on ClearType, but as a frontend web developer, I should try to see what my users are going to see (current OS stats), and therefore I leave it off. It’s hard to know how many XP users leave ClearType off, but I’m guessing the majority.
Getting back on the topic…. In Windows browsers, my text is ugly and jagged. But there is a way to render beautiful, smooth text. Well, there may be more than one way, but the solution I have is Cufón.
You can read more about the details of how Cufón works here.
One gotcha with Cufón-generated text is that it is not selectable, which may not be very accessible or adhere to web standards.
As users we can optimize our web browsing experience however we like, but as fronted developers our job is to make our pages look as good as possible, for as many people as possible. We can’t just ditch our browser. But the extra effort pays off, because for those who are not used to seeing text rendered nicely, a slick heading, for example, really stands out.