If you’re running Chrome 36 (the new version just released this week), on Windows, I’m going to make the case that you may want to keep on upgrading past it.
Chrome 36 is a great release, no question. But, Windows users are going to find major improvements in both Chrome 37 (beta channel) and Chrome 38 (development channel). I’ll explain briefly.
Chrome 37 is the first release where Windows DirectWrite works well. Chrome added DirectWrite as a flag-based switch (in chrome://flags – remember that URL if it’s new to you).
DirectWrite allows Chrome to work properly with HiDPI displays in Windows. That matters if you have a tiny 1080p+ display like on a Surface Pro or many 2-in-1 devices. The Enable DirectWrite setting hands off rendering text to the Windows DirectWrite processor, which is resolution-independent (it’s the same processor that handles all Windows 8 Store apps). The problem with pre-37 versions of Chrome is that the scaling of text is, well, bad. It’s better than not having DirectWrite at all – but it’s still pretty darn poor. Chrome 37 fixes this completely – and now Chrome displays text on HiDPI devices as well as Internet Explorer.
Note that even with Chrome 37 Beta (or 38, for that matter) you will still need to turn the Enable DirectWrite flag on in chrome://flags – as of this post at least. I suspect Google will, at some point, enable the flag automatically during the 37 Beta test cycle. It’s stable enough from my testing already.
Now, what about Chrome 38? Well, Chrome 38 itself uses the same protected media HTML5 extensions that Chrome has been testing for quite awhile. But, it adds something special, an updated WidevineCom that won’t download unless you’re running Chrome 38+ at this time. That could change, and this could be backported to Chrome 37, but it works as of today in Chrome 38 Development channel.
What does this little addition net you? Silverlight-free Netflix playing. Yep, it works. Netflix will even walk you through it, provided you have HTML5 player preferences enabled in Netflix Account Settings. Do make sure that you’re running the latest graphics driver – HTML5 protected media does require an HDCP-supporting display (and driver).
There’s a lot more in Chrome 37 and 38 – but those two feature enough are tipping the scales for me. I’m running Chrome 38 across the board now. Oh, and I uninstalled Silverlight. Finally.