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Icons look fuzzy, blurred, terrible in MS Office 2003

Posted on 2004-05-01
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
I have just installed MS Office 2003. It's a clean install, not an upgrade, right after fresh install of Windows XP Pro with SP1 and all security patches after SP1.

The problem is that all icons in the whole MS Office suite look just awful: fuzzy and blurred, as if they were just enlarged 16x16 icons. This is most evident when I switch to large icons, but even the small ones are terrible.

I have uploaded the screenshots to ilustrate my problem. The screen shots are from Outlook, but as I mentioned, the problem is the same in all MS Office apps. You can have a look at the images here: http://yellowshark.republika.pl/

I have searched the Internet for some screenshots of MS Office 2003 and I see, that the icons look nice on others' people machines :)

I have read somewhere, that MS Office 2003 uses windows' Themes to display its toolbars. So I have enabled the Themes service (which I usually switch off). I have also switched to 16bit color mode and back to 32bit to make sure icons in cache would be replaced with the right ones (I found that suggestion somewhere). As you can guess, all that didn't help. My icons still look BAD.

If that's of any importance I have Radeon 9600XT graphics card, and Catalyst 4.4 drivers.
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Question by:SpaceClav
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Author Comment

by:SpaceClav
ID: 10967158
I have done some more "tests" and what I have found out is the following. The MS Office 2003 icons look fine if I choose 96dpi fonts (under dispay properties of Windows XP). I normally use 120dpi fonts, and then I get the fuzzy icons.

If I select Large Icons in MS Office 2003 settings (under Customize) the icons look nasty whatever dpi I have (both 96 and 120).

So it seems that standard icons were designed for 96dpi fonts, and these icons get scaled whenever they should be displayed larger - so if I select Large Icons or change my dpi settings. But I don't think that's the way it should be. Shoudn't there be few sets of icons embeded in Office files to fit different sizes, like 16x16, 24x24, 32x32, 48x48 or what have you?

I also have reinstalled Windows XP, this time without even switching off the Themes service in a first place. I have also stayed with the default blue theme of Windows XP (which I don't like). Then I have installed this MS Office 2003 again with everything on defaults. The problem with the nasty looking icons remains!

Any ideas?
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Expert Comment

by:Joanne M. Orzech
ID: 10967660
What is your Screen Resolution set at?  You may want to try some different settings and see if that helps.  Right click on any blank area on your desktop, go to Properties, Screen Resolution and try some different resolutions (higher).  See if this makes a difference.
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Author Comment

by:SpaceClav
ID: 10968439
Thanks for your comment ...

My current res is 1600x1200, 32bit, 85Hz. Any higher and my monitor won't apprieciate it :)

Changing to lower res doesn't help. Well, I could set 96dpi fonts if I lower the resolution (which would cure the icons), but I would miss the higher res. And at 1600x1200 I really need 120dpi to be able to read it. My monitor is 19".
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Accepted Solution

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SpaceClav earned 0 total points
ID: 10970757
OK. So I came across this notes on 120dpi settings:

"Finally, if you increase the DPI setting and use Office 2003 you'll have to put up with the resampled toolbars and other UI elements."

<inserted image of Office 2003 toolbar which looks just like mine>

"Note that this is a PNG file, not a lossy-compressed JPEG. I talked to the Office folks about this before it shipped, and it is simply an unfortunate issue where the realities of software development (i.e. money and deadlines) meant that they couldn't substitute higher resolution images or offer an option to turn off scaling. Ironically, scaling the images was done to better support higher DPI displays." (quote from: http://blogs.msdn.com/tonyschr/archive/2004/03/23/94391.aspx)

So I think that ends my struggle to make Office 2003 look decent on my display. M$ amazed me once again. With todays' high res displays 120dpi is going to be more and more common, and these guys just don't care.

So can I award my points to myself, or claim it back somehow?
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LVL 37

Expert Comment

by:Joanne M. Orzech
ID: 11025566
Yes SpaceClav - you can go here and ask for a refund
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Community_Support/

Glad you got it worked out.

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LVL 81

Expert Comment

by:byundt
ID: 11028469
SpaceClav,
Points refunded and question saved  as PAQ.
byundt--Office TA Page Editor
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Author Comment

by:SpaceClav
ID: 11031366
Thank you very much.
BTW, I'm back to Office XP.
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