How do I get sRGB images to display correct in unmanaged applications on Vista with a Wide Gamut Display?

Hello to all

This is not a simple question, and I don't expect the answers to be simple either.

  1. I have vista home premium
  2. I have a Wide Gamut LCD display, a display with a significantly wider color profile than sRGB (sometimes incorrectly called an Adobe RGB display)
  3. I calibrated it with a Spyder3Elite
  4. Images look GREAT in color managed applications (including windows picture gallery)
  5. Pictures look oversaturated outside of color managed applications, even if they are sRGB images.

Here is what I need.  If an application is not color managed then Vista should apply the sRGB profile THEN map it to my monitor's profile. 

What happens now is the image is mapped directly to the monitor's color space and leaves colors oversaturated. The end result is that ALL images in Internet Explorer and inside windows are oversaturated. The only solution found for browsing is to use a plugin to make firefox color managed or to use safari.

BTW. Even though windows picture gallery is color managed the slide show is not, argghhh.

I've looked at the advanced tab on Vista color management, but could not find ANY documentation on the "Device Profile" or "Viewing condition profile" settings. They seem to be related to what I need, but there is nothing in the help about this. What do they mean? (second question, sorry)


PS. I verified the color management using the 4 images at I saved them to disk and use them as a reference to quickly check if an application is color managed or not.


I received this response from Michael Bourgoin. Thank you Michael, at least we have an answer now...

Hi J_______,

I wish I could give you good news, but the fact of the matter is that the Windows desktop, and most windows components are still not color managed. The Window Photo Gallery, and Windows Live Photo Gallery are the only Windows components that color manage to the display profile. Most Office apps will honor embedded source profiles in images, but then they convert to sRGB and throw that at the display. And IE doesn't even honor embedded profiles in images...

As you have determined, the settings in the Color Management control panel only affect color managed applications. The settings on the CM Cpl Advanced tab are used to supply defaults for missing profiles required during WCS color transform creation in color managed apps. Again no help for you there.

As far as color managing non-color-managed applications "behind their backs" goes, that is very difficult to do in general. There is no easy way for the OS to tell whether the color data an application is rendering has already been color managed, or not.

We have a technology called High Color that will be in Windows 7 that aims to solve this problem. In High Color, color data is all first converted into an extended range color space that uses the sRGB primaries, but which allows values less than 0.0 and greater than 1.0 (let's call it sRGB-XR). High Color is closely related to xvYCC and Sony's xvColor. Wide gamut color data can be converted into this space without any loss. Displays (and display cards) that support High Color are required to be able to convert internally from this sRGB-XR space to their native color space. With High Color, un-color-managed RGB is treated as sRGB, which is unchanged when converted into the sRGB-XR space (it's all in the [0..1] part of the encoding). But then High Color compliant devices will correctly map this into their native space, so the sRGB data doesn't get over-saturated by being treated as though it were already in the display's native wide gamut space (as happens now). And, any actual wide gamut image content gets properly mapped to take advantage of the display's wide gamut. The plumbing for High Color is in Windows 7. However, the Desktop Window Manager was unable to implement High Color support in time (this requires the use of a fixed or floating point rendering surface), so the desktop won't be using High Color, yet, in Win7. Maybe next time.

I wish I were able to give you more than excuses, explanations, and futures.

Best Regards,

Michael Bourgoin
Program Manager | Windows Experience Color & Imaging Team
Microsoft Corporation

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Question Info

Last updated May 24, 2020 Views 17,816 Applies to: