One of the first things users noticed about the new Safari for Windows beta is that Apple is using their own font smoothing technology (found in OS X) instead of the Windows standard ClearType. Joel Spolsky has an interesting discussion of the different approaches Apple and Microsoft use with respect to sub-pixel font smoothing. Basically his conclusion is that Apple, coming from a desktop publishing background, "believes that the goal of the algorithm should be to preserve the design of the typeface as much as possible" even if that means some onscreen blurriness, whereas Microsoft sacrifices letter shape "to prevent blur and improve readability." Joel notes that it's not entirely obvious which is the superior way of doing things, though predictably Mac users prefer the Apple way and Windows users the prefer the Microsoft way. In the end, however, this is likely as much a result of familiarity as anything else.
For my part, I've always thought the Mac way of doing text just looked right. Thanks to Joel I now understand why; definitely worth a read.
[via Red Sweater Blog]