Microsoft Windows 8 enhances support for multi-taskers, including display options that tap into Metro interface features.
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In its bid to produce devices that combine the best features of tablets and PCs, Microsoft has added a number of new multi-monitor support features to its forthcoming Windows 8 operating system, including a tool that allows users to run full-screen Metro apps across multiple monitors.
"A multi-monitor setup allows you to be more productive by having more windows across multiple screens," said Mark Yalovsky, a lead program manager on Microsoft's user experience team, in a blog post. "We're very excited about the ease at which tablets in Windows 8 will be able to support large screen and high-resolution monitors (often through HDMI connectors), as this opens up a broad range of exciting new scenarios."
Few details have emerged about Windows 8 hardware, but it's expected that many vendors will produce systems that can be operated in tablet mode or as a laptop with support for multiple monitors. Users armed with such devices will be able to run multiple Metro apps across multiple screens, or run a Metro app on one screen while showing the classic Windows desktop on another.
"Using the mouse, you can now drag and drop Metro Style apps across monitors. Drag and drop works for both full screen and snapped apps," said Yalovsky. Windows 8 will also let users access the Start menu from multiple screens, and the Taskbar can also be configured to run across more than one monitor.
[ Get expert guidance on Microsoft Windows 8. InformationWeek's Windows 8 Super Guide rounds up the key news, analysis, and reviews that you need. ]
In one possible setup, Taskbar instances can be configured to show only the Windows that are open on the screen they are assigned to.
On a more cosmetic level, Windows 8 will allow users to assign a unique background image to each monitor they are using. "How many people really want to look at the same picture twice?" noted Yalovsky.
Yalovsky said the forthcoming Windows 8 Release Preview, set for release next month, will also make it easier to access key features like the Start menu and Charms bar from corners on secondary screens.
Secondary monitors will show hard corners that help make sure mouse users don't overshoot screen boundaries. "We've designed the corners to provide help when you need it and to get out of the way when you don't," said Yalovsky.
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