People with more than one monitor love how it improves their productivity and cringe at the thought of working on a single screen. While support for using multiple monitors has steadily improved in mainstream operating systems, it turns out it's not a very common choice.
Picture by Jose C Silva
In a blog post discussing the new multiple monitor options in Windows 8 (the post has, for some unknown reason, since been pulled), Microsoft discloses data from its in-built Windows Feedback Program telemetry systems on how people use multiple monitors. The big picture? Just 14 per cent of desktop users use more than one monitor, and less than 5 per cent of laptop users, and a much smaller percentage use more than two. Here are the full figures:
Microsoft notes that "this particular opt-in data set is enthusiast-leaning so represents the high end of usage", which means if anything the real-world numbers might be lower. Those figures obviously don't include Mac or Linux users, but they're still drawn from a very large pool of data. For all the developers and designers who find multiple monitors essential, it's clear that most people are happy enough with their single screen.
I've always resisted a multiple monitor setup because I travel so frequently. Having a workflow that's the same wherever I am is more important to me than having multiple apps visible simultaneously (the fact I prefer to work in full-screen apps anyway undoubtedly makes that easier for me). I also figure I'm using a lot less power that way. But I'm not about to browbeat others into making the same choice; needs differ. Feel free to share your own rationale for multiple monitors (or for staying single-screen) in the comments.