15.4 Configuring Video Under Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
Windows 98/Me/ 2000/XP video is configured from the Display Properties Settings dialog and the Display Properties Settings Advanced dialog. The Advanced Settings dialog can be used to configure specific settings for the adapter and monitor, to enable or disable video acceleration settings, and to choose Color Management options. The exact pages in this dialog vary according to the video adapter and driver installed. To view Display Properties, run the Display applet from Control Panel or right-click on a vacant area of the desktop and choose Properties. The following sections describe how to use Display Properties to configure Window 98/Me video settings. Windows 2000/XP is similar, with minor differences in the appearance, names, and functions of the dialogs.
15.4.1 Installing or Changing Video Drivers
Windows 98/Me does reasonably well at detecting common video adapters and installing the proper drivers for them. However, you may need to install a video driver manually in one of the following circumstances:
To install a new or updated video adapter, first visit the video adapter manufacturer's web site and download the latest Windows 98/Me drivers for your adapter. Get the most recent release version of the driver, avoiding beta or unsupported versions. To install the driver, display the Settings page, click Advanced, choose the Adapter tab, and click Change to start the Update Device Driver Wizard.
Also use this dialog to set Refresh rate. Available options depend on the combination of monitor, adapter, and driver being used. When using a PnP monitor, the usual choices are Optimal, which selects the highest refresh rate supported by both the monitor and adapter at the current resolution, and Adapter default, which simply uses the (usually low) refresh rate that the adapter defaults to. Some configurations allow you to specify actual refresh rates, e.g., 60, 70, 72, 75, and 85 Hz. Before you specify a refresh rate manually, make sure your monitor supports that refresh rate at the resolution and color depth you have selected. Some configurations do not allow changing refresh rate, in which case the refresh rate drop-down list does not appear.
When you change resolution or refresh rate, some monitors automatically adjust to the new settings and display a properly centered image. Others require changing vertical and horizontal size and centering adjustments on the monitor to display the image properly. If you select a resolution and refresh rate that the monitor cannot display, the screen may be blank or filled with wavy lines. To correct this problem, restart the computer in Safe Mode by pressing F8 during boot and choosing Safe Mode. Choose the Standard VGA driver, restart the system normally, use Display Properties to select the proper driver and display settings that your monitor supports, and then restart the system normally.
15.4.2 Changing the Screen Area Setting
The screen area setting determines how much information is displayed on the screen by specifying the resolution of the image that the video adapter delivers to the monitor. The default resolution installed by Setup will be within the capabilities of your video adapter and monitor, but may not be optimum. Use the screen area slider in Display Properties Settings to change resolution (see Figure 15-2). Note that the selection range is not continuous. If your monitor is Plug-N-Play compliant and recognized by Windows 98/Me, Windows allows you to select only those discrete values that are supported by both the video adapter and monitor.
Figure 15-2. Use the Display Properties Settings page to configure hardware settings for your video adapter and monitor
Although Windows 98/Me itself supports changing resolution on the fly, doing so requires that the video adapter and driver support that feature. Changing resolution with some older video adapters and drivers requires shutting down and restarting Windows. If so, Windows notifies you that a shutdown is required to put the change into effect and allows you to shut down immediately or defer doing so. If you choose the latter, configuration changes do not take effect until you later restart the system manually.
15.4.3 Enabling and Using QuickRes
If you frequently need to change resolution or color depths, the preceding procedure gets old fast. Enabling the Windows 98/Me QuickRes utility allows you to change resolution and color depth on the fly. To enable QuickRes, choose Display Properties Settings Advanced (shown in Figure 15-3). On the General page of that dialog, mark the Show settings icon on task bar checkbox. With QuickRes enabled, clicking its icon in the system tray displays a menu that displays all combinations of resolution and color depth supported by the video adapter and monitor, and marks the active settings with a check mark. Change resolution or color depth by clicking on the combination you want to use. The Adjust Display Properties menu item provides a one-click method for invoking Display Properties when you need to change properties other than those shown on the QuickRes menu.
Figure 15-3. Use the Advanced Settings dialog to configure specific settings
15.4.4 Changing Performance Setting
By default, Windows 98/Me configures the video driver it installs to use all accelerator functions. Ordinarily, this setting works properly and can be left as is. If you experience video problems, including a mouse pointer that is jerky (check that your mouse is clean first) or that disappears entirely, odd video artifacts, or program crashes, Windows 98/Me permits you to selectively disable some video acceleration functions (Display Properties Settings Advanced Performance). Before you use this feature, first attempt to locate and install an updated video driver. Otherwise, choose an accelerator setting as follows:
15.4.5 Setting Font Size
Windows uses Small Fonts by default, but allows you to select predefined Large Fonts, or to specify a custom font size by choosing Other. The font size setting you select provides a "baseline" value from which the size of vector-based fonts used in applications is calculated. Choosing one of the predefined settings also installs a set of raster fonts that are used for such things as icon labels. A common reason for using Large Fonts is when you run higher than standard resolution, e.g., 1024 x 768 on a 15" monitor, where using Large Fonts or a custom font size allows you to make the text large enough to be readable. Be cautious, however. Many applications do not display properly using anything except Small Fonts. Note that instead of changing font size directly (Display Properties Settings Advanced General), you can achieve similar results by selecting a different Scheme in the Appearance page of the Display Properties dialog.
15.4.6 Using Color Management
Getting consistent color across a wide range of peripherals, including monitors, scanners, and printers, is a nontrivial task, and is made more difficult by the diverse means used for producing color. Monitors produce color by illuminating phosphors. Printers may produce output that uses transmitted or reflected light to produce color by means of dyes or pigments. Scanners may capture either transmitted or reflected images. The color temperature of the lighting used to produce or view an image differs according to its source, and the gamma (in simple terms, contrast) varies with the device. With so many variables in play, the colors on your monitor are likely to be only an approximation of the original colors you scanned, and printed output is likely to differ substantially from both the original and the image on your monitor.
The different methods used to produce color mean that it is impossible to render color with complete consistency. A printed copy, for example, simply does not have the dynamic range that a transparency or monitor image has. But for those doing pre-press work, some means of minimizing those differences is needed. To address this problem, Microsoft introduced Image Color Management (ICM) with Windows 95. ICM organizes the characteristics of each device (e.g., for a scanner, the color temperature of the light source and the gamma of the image sensor; for a printer, the reflectivity characteristics of its various inks) and uses those stored characteristics to make color reproduction as consistent as possible across different devices.
Windows 98/Me includes the ICM V 2.0 API, which improves on the limited capabilities of ICM V 1.0. Previously, you had to define color characteristics for each combination of application and device. Windows 98/Me allows you to define color management profiles, which take into account the specific imaging color characteristics of each input and output device and allow all installed applications to use that shared profile to maintain color consistency. ICM characteristics for scanners and printers are set in the drivers for those applications. Those for monitors are set in Display Properties Settings Advanced Color Management.
Color management is an extremely complex issue. For more information, read the Microsoft ICM whitepaper, available online at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/platform/icmwp.htm. This whitepaper also contains links to various other color management resources.