Wide Gamut Monitor Support on Windows 10

Wide-gamut monitors are becoming ever more popular, but Microsoft has not made Windows operating system easy to use with wide-gamut monitors and wide-gamut color spaces. sRGB is no longer a given, so this needs to be remedied.

Windows Color Management System (WCS)

The current Windows Color Management System is miserable. It is completely missing documentation and has multiple separate settings that all seem to describe the same aspect of the color-managed workflow, creating ambiguity and making it impossible to understand which setting affects what. Also, the link to “Understanding color management settings” in the Color management dialog box links to a completely off-topic web page. Further research into locating the documentation leads to the developer portal with hit and miss information and no concise answers or tutorials.

PC vs TV and Cinema industries

This half-hearted handling of color management exists in spite of a decade’s worth of advances in display technology and media profession workflows. 4K movies and Youtube have necessitated an industry shift in attention to video specifications and the experience of video. Likewise, a shift in attention to color space is under way. While the computer graphics color spaces have only recently been updated, the cinema and home media industries have had a competent range of colors beginning with the advent of HDTV broadcasting and Blu-ray, which use the Rec. 709 standard. For digital cinema recordings, the DCI-P3 color space was introduced in 2010. It has been seven years since this advancement. Now, it is time to bring this positive momentum over from the media and cinema industries to the photography and creative industries. Monitors and their operating systems are in dire need to advance to a modern standard. The color space of computer monitors has not changed since the birth of sRGB in 1996 and its standardization in 1999. It is no stretch of the imagination to see that display technology and professional and consumer expectations of graphical qualities have changed since 21 years ago.

PC Displays

This technological shift is being pioneered by Apple and none other than Microsoft, themselves. Many Apple products have transitioned to using Display-P3 capable displays. Display-P3 is a form of the DCI-P3 color space adapted for use on LCD and OLED displays, or any display that emits its own light, rather than reflecting it (specifically, the gamma was adapted from the DCI-P3 standard of 2.4 to the sRGB standard of 2.2). In October 2016, Microsoft’s Surface Studio desktop computer was unveiled, featuring P3 wide color.

This raises a question: if Microsoft isn’t able to document their own color management system, and nobody truly understands how it functions, how are they diving head-first into releasing devices with wide-gamut displays? Are these devices simply using distorted colors? If not, then, conversely, if they know how the color management system works, then where is the documentation?


Improve documentation.

Revamp the Windows Color Management GUI (and service if necessary) to intuitively reflect the color-managed workflow. The current setting names are ambiguous and do not describe the role of the setting accurately. Also, integrate the “System Defaults” settings into the main settings. It is senselessly buried in the back of the settings as a pop-up, but is just as necessary. I realize there is a separation for the purpose of locking down the system defaults from changes by unprivileged users; this may need some consideration

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