July 30, 2012, 8:31 AM — According to recent data collected by the Windows Feedback Program for Microsoft, less than 15% of desktop users and less than 5% of laptop users connect their systems to multiple monitors. That's a shame because few upgrades can improve productivity as much as multiple displays can. Having additional screen real estate at your disposal lets you keep more application windows open and visible on-screen at the same time; it also simplifies the task of transferring data between applications, and minimizes the need to click or scroll through open windows to find you're looking for.
Working with multiple monitors is a great way to increase your efficiency, if you can afford the extra cost and you have enough space on your desk.
Windows 8 Enhancements
Though setting up and using multiple monitors is reasonably straightforward with Windows 7, Microsoft is introducing some major multimonitor-related enhancements to Windows 8. With Windows 8, Microsoft aims not only to simplify the initial setup process for multiple monitors, but also to make desktop personalization easier, to improve the usability of the taskbar, and to support side-by-side Metro-style applications.
Some multimonitor enhancements coming with Windows 8 are strictly aesthetic. For example, the new OS will permit multimonitor users to assign different backgrounds to each monitor, without having to rely on third-party tools. Users can simply right-click a background image and assign it to a particular screen. Also new in Windows 8 are the option to have backgrounds span multiple screens and the option to have a slideshow choose the best images for each monitor based on the resolution, aspect ratio, and orientation of each monitor's screen.
Other multimonitor enhancements will help you put your screen real-estate to more efficient use. With Windows 7, the taskbar simply increases in size when stretched across multiple screens; but Windows 8 lets you configure the taskbar to show taskbar buttons where you want them displayed, to minimize mouse movements from one screen to another.
In Windows 8 all corners and edges are active on all screens, so users can reach the Start screen, app switcher, and charms from any screen, without having to drag their mice across multiple monitors. Six-by-six-pixel targets appear in separate corners for the Start screen (lower-left), app switcher (upper-left), and charms (upper-right). The Show Desktop button is accessible in the lower right of each screen.