Win8 taskbar, mouse tracking tweaked for multi-monitor configs

Think Windows 8 is optimized solely for touchscreen displays? Think again. In its Building Windows 8 Blog, Microsoft has detailed numerous enhancements aimed to improve the user experience for multi-monitor desktop and notebook users. The most important improvement is smart taskbar functionality, a feature that has been sorely lacking in previous Windows releases. With Win8, users will be able to set each monitor’s taskbar to show only the apps running on that display. There will also be options to have all apps visible on all taskbars or just the one associated with the primary monitor.

It’s about time. The post notes that most Microsoft developers and testers have multi-monitor setups at their desks, which makes me wonder why it took so long for this feature to make its way into the OS. Third-party software has provided similar functionality for years.

Along with the much-needed taskbar upgrade, Windows 8 will offer better background options for multi-display configs. The Start menu and charms bar will be accessible from multiple monitors, and Microsoft has tweaked mouse tracking around the corners of the display that share edges with adjacent screens. The video embedded below has a good demonstration of how shared corners “catch” the mouse cursor as it passes by.

I’ve never really had a problem with overshooting the corners of multi-monitor setups, but Microsoft does seem intent on having users targeting those regions more often in Windows 8. At least the sticky corners are only six pixels wide and tall.

Comments closed
    • tdsevern
    • 7 years ago

    How about fixing the mouse locked to one screen issue while using Media Center in full screen mode!

    • DarkMikaru
    • 7 years ago

    Windows 8 again? Sigh… can’t say I care what 8 says it can do. Interface is just not intuitive or productive for a desktop environment… period. I just can’t bring myself to care.

      • rrr
      • 7 years ago

      You’re not alone in that sentiment.

      • moresmarterthanspock
      • 7 years ago

      Most of microsofts customer base is going to be grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, or regular mundane ton-techy folk who isn’t going to think Windows 8 is any different unless it looks different from previous versions of windows. I agree, the Windows 8 interface sucks, but if they left it like Windows 7, most people wouldn’t see the product as being any different, and would be less likely to purchase it. Remember, Microsoft is in the business of making money, and to sell a new product, it has to look new.

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    Deleted. Double post…

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    Windows 9 – You can now MAXIMISE and MINIMISE and CUSTOM RESIZE metro apps with the powers of SCIENCE!

    Perhaps Windows 8 is designed to be a turd so that when we get offered Windows 9 we will take anything we can get?

    • vargis14
    • 7 years ago

    Something tells me windows 7 will live almost as long as XP is.

    And is it just me or does it seem so Android like,I know its made to bridge the gap between phones and tablets.Or more like make money off tablets and such.But will it have a win7 mode like 7 has a xp mode.
    I hope they will have a disable metro mode or something.It looks so cheap and i can’t believe they are getting rid of the start button and a normal desktop you can fill with tons of disorganized shortcuts.I liked windows for those 2 things alone.
    No company in there right mind would use this crap,too big of a change.They are just starting to use windows 7,that i feel is the best Windows to date.Viruses are very rare in windows 7 compared to xp,in fact i have never seen one in win 7.
    My mother clicks on everything you should not,and for the past 4 years or so not one virus,and i use avg free on her machine.
    ME NO LIKE WIN 8 🙁

    • End User
    • 7 years ago

    Damn. I actually like what I am seeing here. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

      • glynor
      • 7 years ago

      Totally agreed.

      This is the most promising thing I’ve heard about Windows 8 in a long time. Also makes me hopeful that some of them inside Microsoft, at least, haven’t forgotten about us…. You know, computer users, in pursuit of the tablet market which may or may not exist for them in the end.

    • mikehodges2
    • 7 years ago

    This looks awesome! To be honest, I was surprised how bad using multi monitors under windows 7 was, when I first hooked up my second screen. Ultramon sort of helped, but this is how it should have been (start bar on any screen etc)

    • Flatland_Spider
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]The most important improvement is smart taskbar functionality... The post notes that most Microsoft developers and testers have multi-monitor setups at their desks, which makes me wonder why it took so long for this feature to make its way into the OS. [/quote<] Because it's a dumb idea, like vegan bacon. (I like vegetarian/vegan stuff, but vegan bacon reminds me of lightly flavored cardboard.) Windows 8 will have two places to look for open applications instead of just one, or they will have all of the windows in the taskbar then get to guess which monitor each one is on. Another nice point about other monitors is having less crap on it then the primary. This means the taskbar. Virtual desktops would be a bigger news, and these features would make sense in that context. Virtual desktops independent of each monitor plus the new features would make even more sense. Getting rid of the taskbar altogether would be even better. Windows key to open the start page, Windows+Spacebar to open an application switcher. Mouse gesture or corner if you want to use a mouse.

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      Not Vegan, but I find Vegan Mayonnaise (Veganaise) tastes better. Vegan bacon ain’t bad, either, but I agree doesn’t compare to pig. Thought you would want to know.

        • Flatland_Spider
        • 7 years ago

        I’ve been thinking about trying out Veganaise as a healthy replacement. Good to know it tastes better. 🙂

        My wife likes vegan bacon, and she’s the one who introduced me to it. I just find it a funny concept all around. It looks nothing like real bacon; it looks like someone’s abstract idea of bacon. Kind of like how humankind can only crudely approximate the world around us.

        Anyway, it’s good when you don’t want the fat of bacon, but not something I’ll ever pick up if i want to snack on something.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          it doesn’t taste better. he’s lying (or insane). it’s a trick to make you taste something yucky.

      • 0g1
      • 7 years ago

      Moving the mouse or pressing keys to get a Taskbar or “application switcher” is a dumb idea. They already have an auto hide Taskbar feature anyway. No one really uses it unless you have a low res screen.

        • Flatland_Spider
        • 7 years ago

        Or hate it in general and can maneuver around with the keyboard without it.

        The auto hide feature is the second thing I turn on. I like a clean desktop with the information I need on it. Having that flashy piece of useless chrome sitting around is annoying.

          • 0g1
          • 7 years ago

          LOL you like a clean desktop with the info you need. Have a look at the size of the taskbar. Its about half an icon’s height. Less than the height of the top bar of most browsers. Probably half the height of Firefox’s top and plus firefox often has ctrl+f bottom bar.

          You’re really not making any sense calling it useless. Its for holding all your apps currently running so you can quickly switch between them. It’s a basic UI feature. Cycling through apps with the keyboard is so dumb. Why bother when you can just do one click to switch? I wish even Android would have a taskbar, or even an auto hide option (they already have that slide down bar that covers the whole screen for toggles etc. though it doesn’t need to cover the whole screen).

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            don’t worry, chrome OS has one, since they realized it made sense!

      • cygnus1
      • 7 years ago

      Except you can still maintain the legacy taskbar functionality. The new modes are optional.

      And no taskbar? Go get a Mac.

        • Flatland_Spider
        • 7 years ago

        I never doubted that. I just don’t think they should have spent time on this feature unless they were planning on doing more.

        I already got Linux. 🙂 OS X with it’s dock, title bar, and cutesy animations are a different rant. The Windows UI paradigm generally makes much more sense then the OS X paradigm.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 7 years ago

    I’m happy and nervous about what they are trying to do simultaneously.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    there goes Ultramon’s and Display Fusion’s business down the drain.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      ANTITRUST TIME!

      • Price0331
      • 7 years ago

      Not if everyone just stays on Windows 7 😀

      I personally love ultramon.

        • burntham77
        • 7 years ago

        And many people will.

      • csroc
      • 7 years ago

      That depends, MS will probably still miss some things. I’m waiting for the ability to define different sets of backgrounds for each monitor and have it automatically rotate through them like Windows 7 currently can (only one image applied however you like to all monitors at a time unfortunately).

      My main monitor is a 24″ 1920×1200 widescreen. I have an older 20″ 1680×1050 next to it rotated vertically and lets just say that the background situation is a bit… goofy.

        • [+Duracell-]
        • 7 years ago

        If you look at the video, the monitors are all different sizes and all have different backgrounds. That’s being built into Windows 8 now.

          • cygnus1
          • 7 years ago

          And they’ll cycle intelligently so that if you have different aspect ratio monitors the image will go to the one where it will fill the most of the screen.

    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    Corners control critical functions for 99% of applications on the Windows platform. This should be…interesting to observe.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 7 years ago

    The improvements to the task bar seem really nice.

    I wonder just how annoying metro will be.

      • Wirko
      • 7 years ago

      Nice indeed. I just hope that MS keeps supporting vertical taskbars. They make sense on wide monitors.

      If you want make Metro a little bit less annoying, try and pick one of the high contrast themes. This makes the Metro-Start-whatever all black and white. Besides, it allows you to customize at least some of the Desktop UI colours. The implementation is still in alpha (can give you white icons on white tiles or other unexpected things in Metro) but may be just usable in the final version.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        I haven’t used the RC, but my main problem from looking at metro screen shots is that it takes up the whole freaking screen. Unity’s app searcher is 100x better and the Win7/Vista start menu is 50x better.

          • Wirko
          • 7 years ago

          That’s why I said “a little”.

          But look on the bright side. A quad monitor setup makes the Metro start screen 4x better because it’s only able to occupy one screen – or so it seems. (No wonder that MS developers need four screens then).

    • Jakubgt
    • 7 years ago

    “Microsoft has detailed numerous enhancements aimed to improve the user experience for multi-monitor [touchscreen] desktop and [touchscreen] notebook users.”

    Corrected

    • sschaem
    • 7 years ago

    Its actually harder then it look when you want to access those corner menu, but then again its too easy to access them when you dont want to.

    This 6×6 snap come down to an ugly hack to fix one of the many design flaw of windows8.

    And the app drag (why do people care to run phone apps on a desktop is being me) is a gimmick feature as this was not a problem in windows7… “New feature…” to do the same thing

    Why cant I help but think that MS got infiltrated by a bunch of Linux rogue and they are destroying MS from the inside out.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      i realize that you’re likely ESL, but i really have a tough time figuring out what the heck you’re trying to say.

    • moose17145
    • 7 years ago

    Having the task bar on both screens will be nice, but really the one main feature I want is being able to snap a window to the side of my monitor that borders my other monitor in windows 7… Maybe there is a way to do it and I just am a moron and haven’t figured it out yet… but when trying to do the side by side thing in windows 7 with two windows, it will let me snap it to the side of the monitors that are not bordering each other, but not to the side that is bordering the second monitor… I find this most frustrating…

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      Windows key + arrow keys

      This resizes your windows when they snap to the sides so that height is maximized, but I use this to move my windows around all the time.

        • Peldor
        • 7 years ago

        Two thumbs up.

          • moose17145
          • 7 years ago

          The thumbs up are the number of people who learned something useful just now. 🙂

            • flip-mode
            • 7 years ago

            Um, no.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            my thumb up for him is for that very reason

        • videobits
        • 7 years ago

        Cool…helpful tidbit learned today.
        And it works better than expected.
        Starting with window in middle of left monitor, pressing Windows+ Right Arrow moves it to the right half of left monitor. More Windows+Right clicks get left of right monitor, centered in right, right of right, and the big suprise….a wrap back around to the left side of the left monitor. And finally back to original spot.

        Sweet. Gotta RTFM the windows manual more, eh?
        Thanks for the info, superjawes

          • superjawes
          • 7 years ago

          No problem. This is just one of my favorite keyboard shortcut tricks I’ve picked up. One of my others is Windows key + L to instantly lock your desktop.

          But on that note, does TR not have a keyboard shortcut thread for Windows? If not, I’ll see what I can throw together in the proper forums after I get off work. Seems like something users here would use.

            • moose17145
            • 7 years ago

            No kidding on the thank you!!! And I completely agree… a windows keyboard shortcuts thread in the forums would be awesome to have. I do not think TR has one yet.. but I would definitely use it!

            • superjawes
            • 7 years ago

            Hey, if you guys are still reading this thread, [url=https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=81847&p=1122088#p1122088<]check out the keyboard shortcut thread I made over in the forums.[/url<]

        • nnm
        • 7 years ago

        Also, Windows key + shift + arrow keys moves windows between monitors (without snapping them)

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 7 years ago

        Ha, thanks I wish I’d known that for some time. That is extremely handy.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 7 years ago

    “The Start menu and charms bar will be accessible from multiple monitors”

    The what menu?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      It should probaqbly say ‘start screen’ (or whatever term MS uses) to be more accurate. It’s referring to the Metro ‘start screen’ where program (grrr…they aren’t all apps dammit) tiles are.

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    Ya gotta give them credit for trying, but we’re only, what, 5 months from retail release? And there’s a lot more ‘tweaks’ that need to be made before most users are even satisfied with this new GUI, let alone happy with it.

      • sschaem
      • 7 years ago

      They had a dekstop os that worked, but no OS worth mentioning for mobile devices with multi-thouch interfaces.
      And Ballmer, the revisionary, probably monkey around all over redmond and people took it to the T and build a tablet/phone based OS interface and trying to make it ‘one size fit all’.

      They are now trying to hack around a nice tablet interface for a keyboard/mouse/multi monitor concept.

      So far its just a bunch of workaround that make windows8 look unfit to be called a ‘windows’ product.
      6×6 pixel snap to access hidden menus that are the only ‘easy’ way to do fundamental operations?

      • Ricardo Dawkins
      • 7 years ago

      That build is from April. Those images and videos on these blogs post are for older builds.

    • superjawes
    • 7 years ago

    Prediction: comments here will still complain about Metro.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Man, I hate the regular old Windows desktop style GUI!

      *This message brought to you by MadManOriginal, countering predictions on the interwebs since 1998.*

      • sschaem
      • 7 years ago

      Until windows8 get fixed for desktop users, its an obvious observation.

        • Visigoth
        • 7 years ago

        Well f*cking said.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          whoa. what is with the swearing. this is a family site.

      • geekl33tgamer
      • 7 years ago

      I hate Metro. There, sleep easy tonight 😉

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      ^ Comment of the day.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        superjawes is on point?

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      Prediction: Improved multi-monitor support is irrelevant if you have to run Metro.

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