Windows 8 blog talks about scaling to different screens

When Windows 8 is released sometime later in 2012, it will not only be used on desktop and laptop PCs but also on smaller form factors such as touch screen tablets. Therefore, Windows 8 has to be able to handle all kinds of displays and monitors. In the newest entry on the Windows 8 developer blog, Microsoft's David Washington writes a lengthy post about how the team developed Windows 8 to handle all kinds of different displays.

Microsoft considers three aspects when deciding how Windows 8 looks on a display or monitor; its screen size, the screen resolution and its pixel density. The above graph is just an example of the many different kinds of displays Microsoft has to work with in developing Windows 8.

Microsoft has already announced that Metro apps running on Windows 8 have to have a minimal resolution of 1024x768. Washington gives three reasons why the company picked that resolution size for Metro apps. One was that Microsoft felt it was the minimal needed to show Metro style layouts at their best. Washington states, "Lower resolutions, like 800x600 for example, require simpler more basic layouts with less content." 1024x768 is also the minimal resolution for designers when they make web sites.

Finally, Washington says that just 1.7 percent of current Windows 7 users have monitors that max out at less than 1024x768. As you can see in the graph above, about 42 percent of Windows 7 users have monitors that support at least a 1366x768 resolution. In fact, 1366x768 is the resolution that has been set by Microsoft for full support of Windows 8 Metro features. Washington writes:

We chose this resolution as it has enough horizontal pixels to fit the 320px width of a snapped app, next to a main app with a 1024px width. The specs of the Samsung tablet that we unveiled at the //build/ conference are 11.6-inches with a 1366x768 resolution (the Samsung Series 7 tablet in market today). These specs are the minimum screen resolution that supports all the features of Windows 8 on a useful physical size.

Metro apps can also be displayed on much bigger screens with higher resolutions. Washington states that a Metro app can be run on a massive 30 inch screen with a resolution of 2560x1600.

Speaking of larger monitors, Microsoft allows Windows 8 apps to show more content on screen if a screen gets bigger, such as the example news app above. Washington writes that app makers can use adaptive layouts for their software to allow more content to be shown the larger the screen gets. However, some apps, particularly games, may not work with an adaptive layout. In that case, the app can used a fixed layout which simply makes the app itself bigger on screen. Washington writes:

While this isn't ideal for all UI because it may make things appear quite large on desktop monitors, it does work well for many games and game-like UI that is composed mostly of bitmap graphics. This solution also allows apps to remain immersive on a variety of screens without needing significant work from the developer.

Washington also goes over Windows 8 running on different pixel densities. While he says that most PC users have monitors with a relatively low dots per inch (DPI) number, we will see tablets that will have much higher DPI support. He writes:

Many Windows 8 tablet PCs will have pixel densities of at least 135 DPI - much higher than many of us are used to. Of course we’ve seen the introduction of HD tablets with Full HD 1920x1080 resolution on an 11.6” screen, with a pixel density of 190 DPI or quad-XGA tablets with 2560x1440 on the same 11.6” screen; that’s a pixel density of 253 DPI. Pixel densities can increase even more on lesser aspect ratios and smaller screens as we see in the new iPad.

Windows 8 is being developed so that it is looks good even on displays with high DPI numbers. It is using three different types of predictable scaling percentages; 100 percent when no scaling is applied, 140 percent for HD tablets and 180 percent for quad-XGA tablets.

An app developer for Windows 8 will have to create images based on those three percentages in order for those images to continue to look crisp and not appear to be stretched out or blurry on higher DPI displays. Windows 8 uses automatic resource loading that allows developers to, in Washington's words, " ... save three versions of images with a naming convention; images that correspond to each of the current scale percentages (100%, 140%, and 180%) load automatically to keep images crisp on high DPI."

Of course, app makers for Windows 8 would like to see if their creations will look good on any Windows 8 display before they are released to the world. The recently released beta of Visual Studio 11 includes a Windows Simulator that lets app developers see how their software looks on a number of different screen sizes, orientations, resolutions, and pixel densities.

Images via Microsoft

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30" 2560x1600 display, anything but games, movies and heavy duty production suites don't make any sense to use full screen. Even the Win8 start screen is an awkward space hog, just like OSX's Launchpad when you have resolutions like that.

LaXu said,
30" 2560x1600 display, anything but games, movies and heavy duty production suites don't make any sense to use full screen. Even the Win8 start screen is an awkward space hog, just like OSX's Launchpad when you have resolutions like that.

Same situation here. Two 30" 2560x1600 monitors. Metro is a total waste of my precious (and expensive) work space...

I guess Microsoft doesn't give a **** anymore about us, power users...

myxomatosis said,

Same situation here. Two 30" 2560x1600 monitors. Metro is a total waste of my precious (and expensive) work space...

I guess Microsoft doesn't give a **** anymore about us, power users...

Sorry to say but metro is the biggest POS I've seen in a while when it comes to productivity. Looks like it more made for kindergarten than adults.

myxomatosis said,

I guess Microsoft doesn't give a **** anymore about us, power users...

The decisions MS has already made with Metro show they don't care anymore about professional, power, business, or elderly users - a huge mistake.

Even Apple introduced their crappy launchpad attempt as an option. People hated it, don't use it, and Apple has never mentioned it since.

They will try to resurrect it in the future with the next OS release, but hopefully they will have learned the lessons MS won't in time for Windows 8's release.

excalpius said,

The decisions MS has already made with Metro show they don't care anymore about professional, power, business, or elderly users - a huge mistake.

Even Apple introduced their crappy launchpad attempt as an option. People hated it, don't use it, and Apple has never mentioned it since.

They will try to resurrect it in the future with the next OS release, but hopefully they will have learned the lessons MS won't in time for Windows 8's release.

Yeah because Windows XP or 7 is way easier for old people..

So on 1024x600, 1280x720 there is no Metro? If yes, someone have to figure out how to trick Windows to believe it's on 1280x720 resolution, so Metro could be disabled this way. (I like Metro, I just saying this for the Metro haters.)

For resolutions <1024x768, the Start Screen remains - the only difference is that it's not possible to launch any Metro-style apps. The other Start Screen functionality is still present.

Quppa said,
For resolutions <1024x768, the Start Screen remains - the only difference is that it's not possible to launch any Metro-style apps. The other Start Screen functionality is still present.

I hope they relent ever so slightly and allow 720p - i'm sure there's more than a few people out there that connect via HDTV or Projector that can only go as high as 1280x720. My TV will only go as high as 720p, 1080i looks awful on it and is the main reason why I haven't spent as much time in the Consumer Preview as i'd like.

And what of multiple monitors? Of course that is a feature that only works on desktops which seems to be a target market that MS don't really care about with Win8.

good new for you then, the normal desktop has better support for multi monitors (about time). though hitting the charm bar at the moment on multi screens is a real B****

dafin0 said,
good new for you then, the normal desktop has better support for multi monitors (about time). though hitting the charm bar at the moment on multi screens is a real B****

Or the invisible widgets...which no one will ever know even exist unless someone is standing by to tell them.

excalpius said,

Or the invisible widgets...which no one will ever know even exist unless someone is standing by to tell them.

Yeah Microsoft will ship Windows 8 with some guy to help you because making a first time tutorial is impossible

As for including image resources for multiple DPI settings, has no-one else noticed that the icons for the default Metro-style apps are blurry? It's easiest to see with the Video and Messenger apps - look at the bottom of the icons and notice how the edges don't snap to pixel boundaries. The desktop application icons are also blurry, despite being 32x32px, which is especially odd as they were fine in the Windows Developer Preview. In the Windows Consumer Preview, it looks like an icon size other than 32x32px is being drawn scaled up or down.

http://img2.imagesbn.com/images/110970000/110973571.jpg

Quppa said,
As for including image resources for multiple DPI settings, has no-one else noticed that the icons for the default Metro-style apps are blurry? It's easiest to see with the Video and Messenger apps - look at the bottom of the icons and notice how the edges don't snap to pixel boundaries. The desktop application icons are also blurry, despite being 32x32px, which is especially odd as they were fine in the Windows Developer Preview. In the Windows Consumer Preview, it looks like an icon size other than 32x32px is being drawn scaled up or down.

http://img2.imagesbn.com/images/110970000/110973571.jpg

Things like this are called bugs...

As for 'icon' scaling, since the days of Vista and the GPU assist on scaling images before they are rendered, I doubt that Windows 8 is regressing the scaling features of the WDDM.

thenetavenger said,

Things like this are called bugs...

As for 'icon' scaling, since the days of Vista and the GPU assist on scaling images before they are rendered, I doubt that Windows 8 is regressing the scaling features of the WDDM.

In fact, the desktop application icon blurriness disappeared after I restarted, which is good. It remains for Metro-style applications, and I really hope you're correct and it's not by design.

The image I meant to post (including the scaled desktop application icons): http://i.imgur.com/Nl7zy.png

Obviously this article is very wrong. A couple days ago there were a few people here on NeoWin saying that Win8 could not scale, that when running on different resolutions the UI would become unusable because it would shrink so much that it would not be touchable or clickable with a mouse, and we should all convert to the iPad 2s because it was the only device that could support differing resolutions. And we know that people who use the iPad 3GS163264WhiteBlackWiFiLTE are never wrong.

nohone said,
Obviously this article is very wrong. A couple days ago there were a few people here on NeoWin saying that Win8 could not scale, that when running on different resolutions the UI would become unusable because it would shrink so much that it would not be touchable or clickable with a mouse, and we should all convert to the iPad 2s because it was the only device that could support differing resolutions. And we know that people who use the iPad 3GS163264WhiteBlackWiFiLTE are never wrong.



No the article is not wrong because it is from Windows 8 developers themselves it is porlly a user issue not windows issue cause it scales very well so no the article is ot wrong because it is a Microsoft article on the Development blog of windows 8 and thus i think they know better then anyone how window s8 scales

notuptome2004 said,

No the article is not wrong because it is from Windows 8 developers themselves it is porlly a user issue not windows issue cause it scales very well so no the article is ot wrong because it is a Microsoft article on the Development blog of windows 8 and thus i think they know better then anyone how window s8 scales

I think you missed nohone's sarcasm

Even with all the success that the iPad has seen, I think the iPad and its fans has been more successful at annoying Windows users. Why don't you just drop it? It's OK to like Windows 8 Metro. But not everyone has to. I personally don't like this UI. I think it isn't well adapted for desktop displays for various reasons. I like dedicated operating systems for the types of interaction more. Like Windows 7, OS X, Android, or iOS. But it's OK. It's fine that you like Metro a lot. Please use it, play games on it, or create with it.

Edited by Northgrove, Mar 22 2012, 10:21am :

notuptome2004 said,

You are such a Sheldon


No the article is not wrong because it is from Windows 8 developers themselves it is porlly a user issue not windows issue cause it scales very well so no the article is ot wrong because it is a Microsoft article on the Development blog of windows 8 and thus i think they know better then anyone how window s8 scales

Northgrove said,
Even with all the success that the iPad has seen, I think the iPad and its fans has been more successful at annoying Windows users. Why don't you just drop it? It's OK to like Windows 8 Metro. But not everyone has to. I personally don't like this UI. I think it isn't well adapted for desktop displays for various reasons. I like dedicated operating systems for the types of interaction more. Like Windows 7, OS X, Android, or iOS. But it's OK. It's fine that you like Metro a lot. Please use it, play games on it, or create with it.

But I can run my desktop applications also... I have Win8DP running a minecraft server in my basement.

I know it's a little bit extra work but I sure hope developers don't get lazy and actually make 3 versions of their UI elements to take advantage of the scaling in the future.

GP007 said,
I know it's a little bit extra work but I sure hope developers don't get lazy and actually make 3 versions of their UI elements to take advantage of the scaling in the future.

It should be a requirement or they don't get their app in the store

WP7 said,

It should be a requirement or they don't get their app in the store

That could be the case, dunno yet since I don't code etc.

I'd also like the ability to control how much the start screen scales. I dunno how MS does it automatically, how they choose basically, but even if you have the same res going on a tablet and on a desktop the desktop will probably show more tiles than the tablet does. At least that seems to be the case from what I've seen so far.

GP007 said,
I know it's a little bit extra work but I sure hope developers don't get lazy and actually make 3 versions of their UI elements to take advantage of the scaling in the future.

Would it not work if the dev made their app in 1 really big resolution, and Windows scaled it down for smaller displays?

McKay said,

Would it not work if the dev made their app in 1 really big resolution, and Windows scaled it down for smaller displays?

Only if they used vector graphics and or CSS3 otherwise they'd have to make different versions if we're talking jpegs or something. While the OS can scale it I dunno how well it'd do it even going smaller instead of higher.

GP007 said,

Only if they used vector graphics and or CSS3 otherwise they'd have to make different versions if we're talking jpegs or something. While the OS can scale it I dunno how well it'd do it even going smaller instead of higher.

let's make something clear. winRT and WPF are 100% vector based. scaling is a non issue. all developers have to do is have whatever bitmaps they use available for higher DPIs. additionaly, all layout controls and specially the Grid, support %based sizing and fluid layouts by default.

doing apps that scale to high resolution has never been easier. you should have seen how hard it was back in the MFC or windows forms days.