From the beginning, I'd like to say a big "Thank You" to everyone who took the time to respond to my post with your screen resolution data.  While this is not a scientific or even statistically accurate survey, it is very interesting to see what resolutions and monitor sizes people are using with Visual Studio.  This information is summarized as of Sunday April 11, 2004.

The executive summary:

  • 147 people posted responses
  • A total of 247 monitor resolutions and sizes were reported
  • That averages to 1.7 monitors per person.  (Note: I did not ask how many people are running multi-mon vs. developing on multiple machines)

The top screen resolutions and monitor sizes are as follows:

  Screen resolutions:
Resolution Count
1280x1024 85
1600x1200 59
1024x768 40
1400x1050 18
1152x864 15
Monitor sizes:
Monitor Size Count
19" 37
17" 31
15" 16
21" 16
20" 11

As LCD monitors come down in price, screen resolutions are going up.  1280x1024 has a sizeable lead of the second most common resolution 1600x1200.  I think LCD displays have a lot to do with these increased resolutions becoming more popular.  For the past year, I've been running a 17" LCD display at 1280x1024.  It absolutely rocks!  I traded in a 19" CRT running at 1280x1024 and have less eyestrain with the smaller LCD monitor.  While I'm not going to mention brands, the CRT display was of excellent quality from a well regarded company.  The LCD monitor is one of those high contrast, ultra bright, models.  The increase in contrast and readability of the LCD over the CRT is substantial.  As LCD display prices continue to come down, I'm sure we'll see more people moving into the 1600x1200 resolution range of the next few years.

While monitor resolutions continue to get larger, there are still a sizeable population of Visual Studio users running at 1024x768.  This is particularly true in academic and hobbyist environments.  More than 50% of all Visual Studio users are outside the United States.  Visual Studio is translated into 9 languages.  In many cases, the localized version of an English string can be from 30% to 50% longer.  There is also a sizeable, and growing, population of developers who use Visual Studio with the aid of a screen reader.  In order to provide a great out of box experience for all of these users, we have to settle on a default window layout optimized for a screen resolution available to all developers.

In Visual Studio 2005 (Whidbey) we will optimize the default window layout for a resolution of 1024x768.  This represents a big jump in resolution from Visual Studio 2002 and 2003.  In both previous versions, we optimized for a minimum resolution of 800x600.  The Visual Studio IDE will continue to work at 800x600, and even lower resolutions.  The decision to change resolutions was made based on existing customer data, and hardware projections for the 2005 timeframe.  Despite this change, there are still people on the team who have this feeling that there are customers out there running at 800x600.  If you know of any, please tell them to contact me.  I'd like to hear from anyone who plans to run Visual Studio 2005 at 800x600.

One important area which Visual Studio hasn't really optimized for is multiple monitors on the same machine.  From the survey responses, I can tell that several of you are running multi-mon configurations.  I'd be interested to hear from anyone running multiple monitors.  Consider the following questions:

  • If you had a choice between two monitors each running 1024x768 and one monitor running 1600x1200 which would you choose?
  • For people doing multi-mon development today, what features would you like to see added to Visual Studio in the future to improve/optimize you development experience?

For those of you running the really high resolutions like 1600x1200 or 1900x1400, are you making tweaks to VS to improve your productivity at those resolutions?  If so, what tweaks are you making?

Thanks again to everyone who posted feedback to this survey.  In the future, I'll be posting more survey questions such as this to take the pulse of Visual Studio users.  And, as always, if you have any direct feedback you like to send me, my email address is:

  Scott Swanson

  Visual Studio IDE Help/Community

For everyone who is interested in the raw survey data.  Here is an Excel pivot table showing the raw responses grouped by resolution and screen size.

Count Monitor Size                      
Resolution 12 13 14 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 (blank) Grand Total
1024x768 1     4 6     3     26 40
1040x1050                     2 2
1152x864         5 1 4       5 15
1200x1024             5         5
1280x1024       2 17 2 20 1 4   39 85
1280x768                     1 1
1280x800                     2 2
1280x960                     1 1
1400X1050     1       1       16 18
1440x1024                     1 1
1440x900         2           1 3
1600x1024                     1 1
1600x1200       2 1   7 7 11 2 29 59
1680x1050                     1 1
1800x1440                     2 2
1920x1200       8               8
1920x1440                     2 2
2600x1200                 1     1
800x600   1                 1 2
Grand Total 1 1 1 16 31 3 37 11 16 2 130 249