Saturday, March 23, 2013

720p is irrelevant for Microsoft?

I have a laptop running Windows 8. It has an HDMI port. I've used this laptop to watch Netflix content using the Silverlight plugin and display it on my 720p projector. Normally it works fine.
But yesterday streaming was laggy; the video wasn't flowing as smoothly as the audio, and the two would get out of sync. Firefox's plugin container was meanwhile using 100% CPU.

So I thought, I am running Windows 8. I want to watch Netflix. Netflix offers an official Windows 8 app. Maybe it's higher quality than the browser plugin. So I fired it up, and...

On my home 720p projector.
At first I cursed out Netflix. But then I recalled that Microsoft imposes a minimum screen resolution for Metro-style apps. Sure enough, the minimum is 1024x768, while my projector — and any 720p TV, which is still very common — is a measly 48 pixels too short.

720 is a worldwide standard resolution, and is one of only two HD resolutions, the other being 1080[p].

So Microsoft chose to exclude a very large set of displays by increasing the minimum resolution by just 6.7%. But apps are supposed to support many resolutions anyway.

I can't imagine a not-antiquated desktop monitor with a resolution below 1024x768. On the laptop side, netbooks were pretty much defined by 1024x600. I can understand Microsoft not supporting such a small height; it's quite inferior to 768. But ignoring 720 while promoting the new app ecosystem? A mistake.

I bet Netflix is not happy with this.