Windows 7 Tasksbar Multi-Monitor Support

Microsoft is not confirming

Microsoft is gearing up to detail the evolution of the Windows client graphical user interface, in just one month, at the Professional Developers Conference 2008, and then at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference 2008. One of the aspects under the microscope will the taskbar, a Windows 7 desktop item on which Microsoft did already open up a tad without managing to say very much. Illustrative of this is Chaitanya Sareen, senior program manager on the Core User Experience team, discussing multi-monitor support for the taskbar in Windows 7.

While acknowledging that multi-monitor support for the Windows taskbar is long overdue, Sareen said that, “we tend to think that the design of a multi-mon taskbar is not as simple as it may seem. As with many features, there is more than one way to implement this one. For example, some might suggest a unique taskbar that exists on each display and others suggest a taskbar that spans multiple displays. [...] Keep in mind the complexities of having monitors of different sizes, orientations, and alignments.”

Even just one month ahead of the delivery of Windows 7 pre-Beta, Senior Vice President, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, Steven Sinofsky, continues to communicate zero specific details related to the operating system. In fact, there is no promise from Microsoft that the Windows 7 taskbar will indeed feature multi-monitor support. Microsoft has only presented two different options that can be considered in building the Windows 7 taskbar, so that it can span across multiple monitors.

“If one was to implement a taskbar for each display where each bar only contained windows for its respective portion of the desktop, some issues arise. Some customers will cite advantages of less mouse travel since there is always a bar at the bottom on their screen. However, such a design would now put the onus on the customer to track where windows are. Imagine looking for a browser window and instead of going to a single place, you now had to look across multiple taskbars to find the item you want. Worse yet, when you move a window from one display to another, you would have to know to look in a new place to find it,” Sareen added.

Microsoft has also considered the possibility of a single taskbar spanning across whatever number of desktops available. However, in this context, Sareen indicated that the problem itself was not the taskbar, but the space available to display information on the windows launched.

“We thought it would be good to just offer a brief discussion on the specifics of solving this design problem as it is one we have spent considerable time on. One of the approaches in general we are working to do more of, is to change things when we know it will be a substantial improvement and not also introduce complexities that outweigh the benefits we are trying to achieve,” Sareen concluded by saying.

The fact is, Microsoft is working on the Windows 7 taskbar. A preview of what the Redmond giant has in store was made available during the first public presentation of Windows 7. At that time, Corporate Vice President, Windows Experience Program Management, Julie Larson-Green, refused to disclose any details about the changes coming to the Windows 7 taskbar, even if the item was clearly visible on the screen of the operating system's demo computer.

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