Scaling to Different Screens in Windows 8
An interesting article direct from the horses mouth regarding scaling to a variety of screen sizes in W8.
One of the core promises of the Windows platform has been its support for diverse form factors, allowing Windows to power over a billion PCs in the market today. In Windows 8, we set out to build upon this strength by delivering a great experience regardless of the form factor or screen size. Windows 8 PCs will come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small tablet screens to laptops and large desktop monitors and multi-monitor setups. They will also scale to different pixel densities; from that of the typical tablet to new high-definition tablets. The following principles guided us in our design process:
Offer customers a broad choice of form factors while providing a polished, consistent, and predictable user experience.
Enable developers to easily build apps that look great on all form factors in the Windows ecosystem.
With Windows, you can choose a PC that works for you, with a screen that best meets your needs, preferences, or style. For example, a student might buy a touch-enabled laptop with a big screen because they want to be able to write papers but still have fun watching movies or playing games on a touch-screen. Families might opt for an all-in-one desktop with a huge touch screen to view and organize all of the family photos. An accountant with a long commute might pick up a small tablet that easily fits in her bag to surf the web or catch up on her reading during her train ride to and from work. A professional architect or financial trader might have three screens in a mixed portrait and landscape configuration, with one touch screen in the mix.
Windows 8 will power all these PCs and experiences, and as people transition between different sized screens in their day-to-day lives, they will be greeted with a consistent and familiar experience. This breadth of hardware choice is unique to Windows and is central to how we see Windows evolving.
In Windows 8, apps power the user experience, so providing a development platform that makes it easy for developers to create a beautiful user interface that scales to all screens is paramount. For this primary reason, Windows 8 was engineered from the ground up to be a platform for making great apps that work on a variety of screens.
Looking at the breadth of devices that will run Windows 8, we can classify their screens in several ways.
Screen size: There will be PCs with different screen sizes, from the smaller screens on tablets, to medium sized laptops, and large desktops and all-in-ones. These screens will also come in different shapes or aspect ratios.
Screen resolution: Screens will have an increasing number of pixels on screen, or screen resolution. In general, the larger the screen, the higher the screen resolution, but this isn’t always the case.
Pixel density: Screens will also have different pixel densities, which is the number of pixels within a physical area, or dots per inch (DPI.) The pixel density increases as the screen resolution increases, but the screen size remains constant.
Screen size, resolution, and pixel density were each considered carefully when designing Windows 8 for users and developers. When talking about screens, it is very important to be clear about the variable or dimension being talked about. For example, a 13” screen might be running at any number of resolutions (which means any number of pixel densities) and might have one of several different aspect ratios.
This graphic shows a sample of the diversity of common wide-screen aspect ratios and screen sizes that Windows 8 can run on. Windows will support just about any screen dimension so long as the graphics driver and hardware combination provide the correct information to Windows. In addition, some screens will scale to different aspect ratios via cropping and/or stretching. And although we indicate slate or laptop in the diagram below, please keep in mind that these are “fuzzy” boundaries that are getting more fuzzy all the time.