Microsoft set to improve Windows Multi-Monitor support

Martin Brinkmann
May 21, 2012
Windows, Windows 8

Microsoft re-published the multi-monitor article on the Building Windows 8 blog that was published earlier this week and then pulled again. In it, Microsoft reveals how the company intents to improve multi-monitor support in the next version of Windows that will come out later this year. The article begins a breakdown on current multi-monitor supported collected through Microsoft's Windows Feedback Program. About 15% of all Windows desktop users connect the PC to at least two computer monitors. When it comes to laptops, that figure drops to 4.3%.

The article continues with a set of design goals for Windows 8's multi-monitor system support:

  • Better desktop personalization features for multi-monitor systems
  • Improve app accessibility across monitors
  • Improve the system's user interface accessibility
  • Allow metro and desktop to run side by side

The remaining parts of the article address each of the goals in detail.

When it comes to personalization, Microsoft is making changes to the way the desktop is personalized on multi-monitor systems.

desktop backgrounds

Some of the changes include:

  • The ability to display a different desktop background on each connected monitor, with options to automatically switch through sets, or between wallpapers on monitors individually
  • A slide show that picks the best suitable wallpapers size-wise for each monitor. This can be especially useful if different sized monitors are connected to the PC.
  • The ability to span a background across all monitors, even if those monitors have different sizes.

Another change comes to the taskbar on multi-monitor systems. Microsoft points out that Windows users who work on multi-monitor systems have different ideas about how the ideal taskbar should look like on those systems. That's the main reason why Microsoft is making available three different display options when it comes to that.

windows 8 multi-monitor taskbar

  • By default, all taskbar buttons will be displayed on all monitors, so that they are accessible right away without having to move the mouse cursor to another monitor to access one of the programs.
  • Main taskbar and taskbar where window is open. The main monitor displays all open windows, while all other monitors only the windows and programs that are displayed on them.
  • All taskbars displays taskbar icons individually for each desktop. If a window or program is open on a monitor, the icon is displayed on that monitor's taskbar, but not on other taskbars.

Microsoft then provides a sneak peek of features that multi-monitor users may notice in the upcoming Windows 8 Release Preview. This includes some important changes like the ability to bring up Start, charms and app switching from the corners of any monitor. The company furthermore has improved mouse targeting on the shared edge. It is not uncommon on multi-monitor systems to overshoot the mouse and land on another monitor because of this.  Microsoft is introducing an improved model in the Release Preview that is helping multi-monitor users target the shared edges in a better way.

Are you working with multiple-monitors? If so, have any tips for starting users?


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Paul(us) said on May 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Martin, Do you think Microsoft is thinking off applying a patch which makes those possibility possible in windows 7?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      I personally do not think that they will implement the features for Windows 7.

  2. Roman ShaRP said on May 22, 2012 at 6:37 am

    My colleague is running Metro and Desktop side-by-side, and we both had troubles calling Metro system menu (which should slide out when you move mouse to the upper right corner) – because it’s not that easy to position mouse without running in other monitor space.

    Soooooooo… perhaps a tip would be “don’t run Metro to right of Desktop” (I didn’t check if running it left helps, though)

  3. JFP said on May 22, 2012 at 3:03 am

    It’s about time.

    I have to use third party software to do what I want, but it give me the opportunity to discover a great software: DisplayFusion.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.