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However, it still trashes things a bit. I've also read that the 16 million color palette is a good shot, as long as you avoid transparency (which is buggy on Win2K systems.)
Now, adding to my confusion I read this:
The Windows System Palette
Windows really doesn't have a system palette; it only has a starter selection of colors. Any application for Windows can throw out the Windows "system" palette and create its own group of colors, except for the first ten and the last ten colors in the palette ... The colors in these palette postions must always appear in these exact locations and can never be replaced. If you create an image using all 256 colors but don't include these twenty exact shades, Windows will throw out twenty of the custom colors from your image and replace them with these standard twenty.
— from sparklenet.com [sparklenet.com]
Does anyone have the true scoop on all of this? Since I never create icons except for favicons, I always feel like duck out of water when I get into this territory.
Sometimes a 16 color image is desired, and sometimes a 256 color icon is desired. This repository is scanned for the image size/color count appropriate for the location and the computer's color capability. If the image is not ideal, it may be compressed, expanded, and/or colors may be modified producing unexpected results. This is why we recommend making a 16x16 pixel, 16 color icon. [my emphasis]
— Favicon FAQs [favicon.com]
And yet they also say this:
What a the current best practices for building favicons?
Currently we recommend the following:
Create a 2 image favicon. One icon 32x32 and the other icon being 16x16. Both 256 colors (stick to Windows Default Palette) [my emphasis]. Reason: In some browsers, you can drag the favicon to the desktop where it becomes a link. Often, this desktop icon is 32x32 pixels.
— Favicon Best Practices [favicon.com]
Right now I'm sticking with 256 colors. It's might hard to do anything sharp in 16 colors. But I'm wondering what's the trade-off. What risks am I taking here?
I only ever did one and I crunched my palette down from 256. I took a look at my own desktop icons and viewed each one and counted colors. Some were 256 - some were less.
You might go P.C. and try to go for high-contrast, no matter the color count, for those who may be vision impaired or suffer from color-blindness (always a good idea to be considerate).
Regarding the online favicon craze, it's kind of like asking, "What color Yugo do you want, Ma'am?" If this is putting your stomach in knots always remember - this isn't the Sisteen Chapel. In a hundred years who's going to care?
Even the favicon website seems to have as much opinion as fact. Why should opinions enter into it?
If I include a 16 color image in the favicon file as a third choice (along with two 256 color images) will a 16 color system select that image for display?