Resolved: to get a better answer about resolution (screen resolution, that is!)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/03/15 07:01 -04:00, original URI:

Every version of Windows has always had some minimal requirements for being able to be useful.

One of those minimal requirements had to do with screen resolution.

In fact, if you think back to before there were iPads, when Netbooks were poised to cannibalize the PC market, it was Netbooks that were often throwing product groups and feature teams into disarray.

Because the popular requirements refrain for Windows and Office was a minimum screen resolution of 800 x 600 pixels.

And Netbooks were being created that threw that out the Window.

The requirements that were added to XP and later tried to soften the blow:

Windows XP is designed for monitors that use a minimum screen resolution of 800 × 600 pixels. If your Netbook doesn't support this screen resolution, some dialog boxes and text might appear cut off. If this occurs, you might need to connect the Netbook to a larger external monitor.

You can find roughly the same text describing Vista and Windows 7 in pages that for yet given up on Netbooks.

There was some effort in the early 2000's to try to suck less in these Netbook scenarios but we never made much headway. So it's mostly just as well that Netbooks have largely passed on.

Especially when you consider the one scenario that suggested the 800 x 600 pixels crowd could get stuffed.


If you dig enough or call support and talk to people who know where the good info is hidden, you can find the following information:

Below are the scenarios supported for Windows 7:


 I suppose now you can also count this Blog as having the info, too. :-)

Though this description has some problems with it.

I mean, not all of these languages and scripts are created equal. So trying to create a two-tiered model of screen resolutions that puts Khmer in with Malay is frankly kind of silly.

And German XP can have just as many problems with dialog truncation (due to longer text) as many of these more complex languages.

So does this second tier mean anything in the end?

Maybe not.

But since this problem of inadequate form factors was first identified in 2001, we haven't ever really solved it. So some recommendations that might occasionally help aren't not the worst thing in the world.

But it makes one wonder whether it would be a worthwhile exercise to have recommendations -- per language, per LIP -- of the ideal settings to make sure text always looks its best...

Joshua on 15 Mar 2012 9:55 AM:

Since Windows itself must support all the way down to 640x480 256 color *anyway* (to repair broken video drivers), this bothers me a lot less than it should.

John Cowan on 15 Mar 2012 10:08 AM:

I suppose the moral here is, "Don't try to run Windows on hand-held devices."

Van on 15 Mar 2012 12:28 PM:

Or John, maybe the moral is, "Don't buy a hand-held device with really crappy screen res."

Yuhong Bao on 16 Mar 2012 8:36 PM:

"And Netbooks were being created that threw that out the Window."

Well, 1024x524 isn't that much smaller than 1024x600, though I agree that the latter is better.

Yuhong Bao on 16 Mar 2012 8:39 PM:

"Since Windows itself must support all the way down to 640x480 256 color *anyway* (to repair broken video drivers), this bothers me a lot less than it should."

XP added VESA support to the vga.sys driver.

Joshua on 20 Mar 2012 10:59 AM:

@Yuhong Bao: Yes, they did, but it doesn't always work. I've seen it fail when booting VGA mode.

Yuhong Bao on 27 May 2012 6:42 PM:

Yea, it can fallback to 640x480 with only 16 (not 256!) colors if VESA VBE is not available or the video BIOS is blacklisted.

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