Windows 8 will scale to different screens, feature minimum resolution
Windows 8 has a bad rap. Some believe Microsoft’s new OS is designed solely for tablets and portable PCs — devices that have recently captured the attention, and dollars, of millions of consumers — while stalwart desktop users are left in the lurch. Not so, claims David Washington, Microsoft senior program manager. Your screen size won’t matter, he says.
Addressing the trepidation of PC traditionalists in a post at the Building Windows 8 blog, Washington said the new platform will cater to all screens, not just the ones that fit in the palm of your hand.
“Windows 8 PCs will come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small tablet screens to laptops and large desktop monitors and multi-monitor setups,” said Washington. “They will also scale to different pixel densities; from that of the typical tablet to new high-definition tablets.”
To ensure developers and users of all stripes are satisfied, Microsoft paid special attention to tweaking screen size, resolution and pixel density, Washington explained. His User Experience team decided on a minimum screen resolution of 1024×768 mostly to aid app developers, noting that restricting it number to a smaller 800×600 resolution wouldn’t do their creations justice.
“As we worked on different design layouts for apps, we found that the higher the minimum resolution, the richer and more tailored the app could be,” said Washington. “We wanted developers to be able to tailor and refine their layouts to make use of every available pixel on 1024×768, without having to compromise the layout for a smaller resolution.”
But why 1024×768? Washington cited data that showed just 1.2 percent of current Windows 7 customers are working with screens with a smaller resolution. Considering that operating system’s healthy run in the marketplace so far (with years left still), aiming for a higher baseline resolution with the new OS makes sense. However, to get the full Windows 8 experience, including multitasking and snap, users will need to view it in 1366×768, Washington added. The OS’ maximum resolution tops out at 2560×1600.
“If we were to have a loose requirement, some developers might build and test for these lower resolutions, while others might not, yielding a fractured ecosystem where developers start targeting specific devices instead of the platform as a whole,” Washington said. “Also, developers might target the least common denominator and pick the lowest possible resolution, which in turn would be detrimental to the user experience and quality of the apps.”
Apps developed at the bare minimum will scale to larger screens, avoiding large chunks of unused black space or an ugly stretched look. Larger screens will naturally show off more content, and scaling will prevent those new HD displays with high dots per inch (DPI) ratings from rendering blurry or tiny text.
Microsoft launched its Windows 8 Consumer Preview on February 29. The retail version is expected to arrive this October.
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