As an advocate of using more than one monitor, I have written blogs in the past on how small and mid-sized businesses can make use of additional monitors to increase their productivity. In fact, workers who have ever connected a projector or a large screen monitor to their laptops have experienced the power of a multi-monitor setup.
Though I would be the first to praise the versatile support that Windows 7 and earlier versions of the Windows operating system (OS) offers for working with multiple monitors, it does have a couple of perennial kludges. Well, it appears Windows 8 will come with a number of new multi-monitor features, according to a new blog post on Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog.
The Windows 8 Taskbar on Every Display
Windows 8 will have the option to show the taskbar on not just the primary display, but on secondary displays as well. Though it sounds minor, this tweak is an immense productivity booster for power users who use multiple displays. Applications will be shown in all taskbars by default, but you can configure them to only appear in the taskbar where a particular window is open. A third option will show running Applications on the main taskbar, as well as on the taskbar where the window is open.
More Options for Wallpaper
Windows 8 will also receive an upgrade to recognize multiple wallpapers. It will be possible to set wallpapers that span multiple monitors, or define different wallpaper for each display. And rather than offering unintuitive options such as "Stretch" or "Tile" for wallpapers, Windows 8 is smarter and will shuffle through images that it thinks are the most suitable for a particular configuration of monitors.
Enhancements for Windows 8 Metro
We’ve all heard about the new Metro style apps that will be part of Windows 8, and you may have even tried it already in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The new multi-monitor enhancements will also take these full-screen apps into consideration; users will be able to bring up Charms and the app switcher from any of the monitors. Moreover, a thicker activation area will make it easier to activate Metro elements without accidentally moving the mouse cursor into the adjoining monitor.
Of course, third-party software that lets you put in an additional taskbar on every display, or even tweak individual wallpapers has been around for a long time. However, that represents an additional investment, consumes memory and processing cycles, and may not necessarily work reliably in various scenarios – and I’ve tried a few. It is for these reasons that I am looking forward to the multi-monitor enhancements in Windows 8.
And if you’re one of the 85 percent of desktop and 95 percent of laptop users that Microsoft says uses just one monitor, you may want to seriously consider upgrading to at least two displays.
Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.
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