Microsoft to Broaden Windows 10 Color Management Support

Posted on May 15, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 9 Comments

A new Windows Insider build reveals that Microsoft is working to expand color management support in Windows for creative applications that run afoul of HDR.

“HDR mode changes the behavior of some creative and artistic apps that use International Color Consortium (ICC) display color profiles, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom Classic, and CorelDraw (amongst others),” Microsoft notes in a blog post. “In the past, these apps were limited to targeting the sRGB color gamut.”

The change is available in Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21382, which was released last night to testers in the Dev channel. As you may know, the Dev channel no longer targets a specific Windows version, so it’s unclear when this will appear in Windows, and whether this change will target multiple versions of Windows 10.

According to Microsoft, users will be able to override which color management technology individual apps use. Unfortunately, it’s doing so via a fairly old-fashioned and non-discoverable compatibility interface. To find it, you need to locate the .exe file for the application—itself an often tedious task—right-click it, choose Properties, and then navigate to the Compatibility tab. There, under Settings, you’ll find a new option, “Use legacy display ICC color management.”

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Microsoft to Broaden Windows 10 Color Management Support”

  1. PhilipVasta

    "Unfortunately, it’s doing so via a fairly old-fashioned and non-discoverable compatibility interface."

    Well it wouldn't be Windows if it were modern and clean. This is why I'm not particularly excited about Sun Valley. I do look forward to the visual refresh, but I wish Microsoft would go a bit deeper in modernizing Windows.

  2. IanYates82

    You can right click the app shortcut rather than locate the exe, but still, not discoverable.

    It's also a weird setting anyway.

    It sounds like it's forcing an app onto an old way of doing colours - making the HDR stuff *not* affect the app, I think?

    I'd hope this is something an app can opt itself into in the future. Crazy to think Adobe would have to issue instructions to its users to go and modify some app compat settings on a future fresh installation of photoshop

    Say what you will about the old sinofski blog posts, but we'd have at least got a long screed explaining colour profiles and how they intersected with HDR

    • computerguy0526

      Call me nuts, but I looked forward to those 1,000+ word screeds :)

    • hrlngrv

      | You can right click the app shortcut rather than locate the exe

      When you right-click on an .EXE in a read-only location such as %PROGRAMFILES% and change certain properties you create a .LNK file. If there's already a .LNK file for the .EXE in the traditional Start menu, it's more direct to modify that .LNK file, though .LNK files under %PROGRAMDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu are also in a read-only location, so a new .LNK file is created in %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu.

      Ain't Windows grand?

      Re Adobe, if they were aware of this (they should be, no?), shouldn't the .LNK shortcuts Adobe's installers create include the proper setting already?

    • wright_is

      If you are working on images, either professionally or as a hobby, you don't want the OS artificially applying HDR to the image. You want it as close to what the original source's colour profile as possible, and if you are trying to add HDR to an image that the OS is already applying some artificial HDR to, you won't be able to tell.

      At a guess, the applications haven't been modified to take into account that Windows is applying its own HDR and colour settings. Hopefully future versions will be aware of this and will disable it automatically.

    • wright_is

      This is and has always been the way that Windows has managed compatibility options for programs. XP compatibility, always run as admin etc. are also all accessed this way.

      They really should overhaul this and make it central in the settings, but until they do that, putting it in the same place that all other program compatibility settings have been for the last couple of decades makes the most sense.

  3. mikegalos

    Since color gamut is well beyond what the typical user understands it's something best left to the specialty applications to change as needed.

    You'll note even in Paul's comments on the change he doesn't explain HOW the gamut changes affect the results of HDR photographs or which other utilities modify the ICC file(s) such as xRite's iProfiler or how their changes interact or which gamuts are available and why you'd use one or another.

    And that's in commentary with room to write a brief tutorial. Imagine that as a "mouseover help popup" text.

    I suspect that this was intentionally kept hard to find because the typical user who is at the level of wanting to tweak settings but not a pro at color management is most likely to get "None of my photos look right" results if they start messing with those settings.

    • wright_is

      But the applications need to be updated to be made aware of the new features in Windows 10, especially around HDR. Until the applications get changed to be able to turn off the HDR settings as needed, this is the only way around it for those applications - or HDR needs to be turned off system-wide.

      If you are doing photo/image editing, you want the colour profile as neutral as possible, you don't want the OS blithely applying HDR and other colour shifting effects. But you probably want HDR turned on, if you are also using the PC to watch films.

  4. Calibr21

    How about they make the Photos app support color calibration profiles. It’s crazy that I can color calibrate my display but when I double click a jpg and open it in the default Windows Photos app the colors are still wrong.

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