Three Ways Windows 8 Will Fit Your Screen | PCWorld Business Center. (No longer available online. Original text included below.)
Apple’s new iPad is dominating the news with a “Retina” display that “takes your breath away”. Microsoft wants everyone to know that Windows 8, said to be released this October, will support many types of displays, including Retina-like quad-XGA displays. This will result in Metro apps that look good on both tablets and big-screens, yet are easy for developers to create.
On Wednesday David Washington, a senior program manager on Microsoft’s User Experience team detailed on the Building Windows 8 blog how Windows 8 will accommodate not only devices of various screen sizes and resolutions, but also screen densities. Here are the three ways to measure a screen, and how Microsoft is addressing them in Windows 8.
1. Screen Size
The blog post talked least about screen size, which is the diagonal measure from corner to corner of the display area of the screen. The screen sizes available in devices varies immensely from 1” in small handheld devices to well over 600” in a stadium display. Microsoft is focusing on screens for three primary uses: “Slates” that tend to be 10.1” to 17”, “Workhorse PCs” that commonly are 12” to 15.6”, and “Family Hubs” that are either large monitors or more commonly high definition televisions that are 23” and larger. Windows 8, and especially the Metro interface, is designed to both look and function well in all of these scenarios.
[image 1-size.jpg: Windows 8 supports many screen sizes.]
2. Screen Resolution
A large amount of consideration was put into screen resolution, which varies as much as screen size. One of the most important considerations was in defining a minimum resolution of 1024 x 768 required for the display of Metro apps. Washington pointed out that this would support 98.8 percent of Windows 7 installs, and that the minimum would make apps richer as well as prevent developers from having to test apps at resolutions below that. Similarly, to use Snap, which allows multiple apps to share the screen, a minimum resolution of 1366 x 768 is required, which allows a 1024 pixel wide app, as well as a 320 pixel wide sidebar. Relating to maximum resolution, Washington said “You can run Metro style apps on a screen as big as 30” with a resolution of 2560×1600”. Though it’s unclear if this means Metro will not run on a higher resolution, it is more likely that this is an example of a large resolution that Metro supports.
[image 2-resolution.jpg: Windows 8 will support 98.8% of Windows 7 installs.]
3. Screen Density
Screen density is a measure that hasn’t been used much until recently. Screen, or pixel density refers to “the number of pixels in a physical area”, and is also known as dots per inch (DPI). Apple made the concept popular when it first introduced the “Retina” display in its iPhone 4, and critics are raving about the 9.7” 2048-by-1536 resolution, 264 DPI version now being used in the new iPad. Since the new iPad has twice as many pixels in each dimension, screen elements in iOS are scaled up 200% so they don’t look tiny, and remain touch friendly. Windows 8 will support a much wider range of devices than iOS, so Microsoft is targeting three scaling factors that apps will automatically adjust to so they are appropriately sized on any screen:
- 100%: Typical screens with resolutions around 1280×800 and approximately 116 DPI.
- 140%: HD tablets with full HD 1920×1080 resolution on an 11.6” screen providing 190 DPI.
- 180%: Used for quad-XGA with 2560×1440 resolution on an 11.6” screen providing 253 DPI.
[image 3-density.jpg: Windows 8 enables three optimum scaling factors.]