Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Increased Support for Multi-Monitor Setups Coming with Windows 8

Honestly, I don't know how I used to function with just one computer monitor. Ever since I built my custom gaming PC with dual-monitor setup, the thought of using just one monitor seems archaic. Having two monitors makes everything better. It makes surfing the web better, it makes gaming better, it makes multitasking better and, if you're like me and you work on a computer all day, it makes working better too. Microsoft seems to have finally realized that lots of people use more than one monitor and, as a result, has added a bunch of new tools to Windows 8 to help people who utilize multiple monitors get more out of their extra screen space.

Lead Program Manager for Microsoft's User Experience team Mark Yalovsky recently released quite a substantial blog post on building Windows 8 and explained some of the changes with dual-monitor support. The blog post is huge with tons of details on a lot of different things, though there are a few highlights that focus on multi-monitor technology. First off, Yalovsky threw down some statistics on just how many people utilize multiple monitors. According to data collected by Microsoft's Windows Feedback Program, nearly 14% of desktop PC users and 5% of notebook users run multiple monitors.

In his post Yalovsky talks a lot about how the new Windows 8 will allow better background personalizations for multi-monitor setups. This includes how the updated slideshow application selects the best images for multi-monitor setups that consist of different sized and/or different oriented monitors. Another interesting feature is how Windows 8 will handle the taskbar across multiple screens. Windows 8 will include an option to display the taskbar on every display and will also give you three different options as to how buttons on the taskbar are handled. The default setting shows the taskbar buttons on every taskbar. The second option only shows taskbar buttons on the taskbar where the window is open with the third option shows the taskbar buttons on the main taskbar and on the taskbar where the window is opened.

In addition to that, Windows 8 makes use of different user interface elements, like the Start Menu, Charms bar or lists of recently used apps that are triggered by hovering your mouse around the corner of the screen. This is easy to do on a single monitor, though with multiple monitors you run the risk of overshooting and moving over to the next monitor. To guard against this, Microsoft has added something known as "real corners" to the shared corners in multiple monitor setups. This traps your cursor, allowing you to find the edge and utilize this feature much more easily. The corners themselves are only six pixels in height, which means you shouldn't run into them unless you are trying to. If that isn't good enough for you then know that Microsoft has coded these corners to be intelligent in how they trap the mouse cursor.

The ability to have out of the box support for multi-monitor setups with Windows 8 will definitely be a major selling point for hardcore computer enthusiasts. Having to install third-party applications all the time can be a huge annoyance and hassle which makes the integrated multi-monitor support coming with Windows 8 all the more appealing.

Source: ZDNet - Windows 8 includes enhanced multi-monitor support
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