LCDs clearly dominate new-monitor sales—big retailers such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Costco no longer even offer CRT monitors on their websites. The proliferation of LCDs causes headaches for IT pros because of how LCDs work—unlike CRT monitors, LCDs use fixed pixels, and changing the screen from its default resolution causes the system to attempt to render fractional pixels, resulting in blurriness. Non-native resolution can cause other problems too, such as preventing Windows from using ClearType to smooth fonts.

In the first of a recent series of entries on before text Microsoft’s Engineering Windows 7 blog, Christina Storm, a program manager on the Windows Customer Engineering feature team, presented data on the display resolutions that Windows Feedback Program participants use. The blog shows that 68 percent of participants who have a monitor capable of displaying at 1600×1200 use a lower resolution. Another entry shows that 55 percent of those with monitors capable of 1280×1024 or higher resolutions had their screens set to non-default resolutions. (It’s worth noting that no figures were given on how many of those were CRT monitors, which often have very high top resolutions and don’t suffer the same problems with non-native resolutions.)

Ryan Haveson, a program manager lead on the Windows 7 desktop graphics team,noted in another post that most users move to low resolutions either because text on the screen was too small to read or simply by accident.

Raising a display's dpi can make text larger without decreasing the resolution, and Windows has long had a setting to adjust the dpi. The problem with changing the dpi, according to the blog, is that 9 percent of about a thousand applications Microsoft has tested have some kind of bug when running on a system using a non-standard dpi. Strategies that the Windows 7 team is considering to address the problems with native resolutions include making dpi settings easier for users to find and understand, providing developer tools that make dpi-aware programs easier to create, and ensuring that applications can scale their displays to user preference. Haveson also mentioned that the team came up with mitigations for the various categories types of high-dpi bugs, though he said the best mitigation is to prevent the bugs at the software developer level and the team will work to engage developers on this topic