Multiple Screen Orientations

Multiple Screen Orientations

Overview of multiple screen orientations.

Currently, Microsoft® has no definitive information about how often users change screen orientation. But usability research shows the orientation users choose depends on the tasks they are performing or just performed. Also, if users are satisfied with a particular orientation, they usually choose that orientation in the future. For example, if users are reviewing a Microsoft PowerPoint® presentation in landscape orientation, they likely continue to use that orientation to take notes and use other applications. However, if users begin reading a Microsoft Word document in portrait orientation, they are likely to use that orientation to take notes.

It can be detrimental if your application depends strictly on one orientation. Users may want to use the application while performing a concurrent task but avoid doing so because of the perceived "hassle" of rotating Tablet PC. It is clear that each orientation best suits some primary tasks and that users keep that orientation as long as they continue the primary or concurrent tasks.

Therefore, Microsoft recommends that the layout of user interface elements in applications support both landscape and portrait orientations. Controls and menus within the application should be aware of screen orientation and should provide a proper layout. A consistent layout between the orientations is ideal but, short of that, the application should remember the layout for each orientation independently.

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