Windows 10 is about to get a lot more colorful – here’s why

Windows 10 20H2
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has added HDR support for Windows 10 to its latest development build of the operating system. This could in turn enhance creativity-focused apps like Lightroom and Photoshop on Windows 10, unlocking the full HDR gamut for more color depth and accuracy when drawing or editing photos, for example.

Reported by BleepingComputer, the addition of HDR is part of Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21382, but is likely to roll out publicly via the Windows 10 Sun Valley UI update due to release later this year.

Discussing the update, Microsoft’s Amanda Langowski and Brandon LeBlanc stated: “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). In the past, these apps were limited to targeting the sRGB color gamut.” 

Taste the rainbow

It’s worth noting that the difference between sRGB and HDR isn’t insignificant. HDR (or high dynamic range) allows for a greater spectrum of colors to be shown on compatible displays. This allows for ‘true’ dark blacks and a more vibrant output of color.

The addition sounds excellent for photo editors who can use HDR to greatly enhance their images. The same could be said for artists, for whom HDR can allow for vastly more eye-catching pieces thanks to its ability to deliver a superior color gamut to sRGB.

We’re honestly surprised that HDR support wasn’t added to Windows 10 sooner, as the feature is supported by a plentiful number of other outlets there’s a particularly big push for HDR on Xbox Series X right now. As such, it’s notably common in gaming, for example, where HDR and compatible displays can let players experience visual showcases close, if not identical, to what developers had originally intended. 

How do I activate HDR on Windows 10?

If you want to experience HDR on Windows 10, you’ll first need to enroll yourself into the Windows 10 Insider program, which can be done via the official website. Once you’re in, you’ll want to download Build 21382 from the Dev Channel.

From there, right-click on your desired app and go into Properties. In the Properties window, find the Compatibility tab, and under that menu’s Settings section, click “Use legacy display ICC color management.” Keep in mind that the option will only work for HDR compatible displays, though.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.