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Windows 8.1 on Retina

If you’ve installed Windows 8.1 on a MacBook Pro with Retina display, you may find yourself getting a headache as your eyes squint and strain to view the screen.

I just purchased a new 13 inch MacBook Pro with Retina display over the holidays because I love the Haswell battery life and it’s arguably the best hardware on the market with its unibody aluminum construction.  Everything about this laptop says, “Fast” with its 512 GB SSD, 8 GB of RAM, 4th generation Core i5 processor, multiple USB 3 and Thunderbolt 2 ports, 802.11ac Wi‑Fi, and the Intel Iris Graphics driving the 2560 by 1600 IPS display.

Even if you don’t work for Microsoft, you may also want to run Windows in addition to Mac OSX Mavericks on this laptop.  This became possible a few years back when Apple decided to move from IBM’s PowerPC architecture to the faster and more widely used Intel PC architecture.  Before then, you had to contend with horribly slow PC emulation to get Windows to work on Apple hardware.  Today, it’s as easy as launching the Boot Camp Assistant app found in the Applications | Utilities folder in OSX.  With a USB stick to store Apple’s drivers for Windows and a DVD drive to install Windows 8, you’re off to the races.

Once Windows 8 is finally installed and you’ve updated the OS to 8.1, you’ll quickly notice the high-resolution graphics makes the Windows desktop look more at home on a 30 inch monitor than on a 13 inch laptop.  While the Mac scales up “readable” resolutions like 1440 by 900 and increases the density of pixels, Windows just displays the native 2560 by 1600 resolution “as-is.”  This means you’ve got a lot of space on your desktop and all the UI elements and text are super-tiny.  To make things more “readable” like OSX, you need to increase the size of all the UI elements and text.

To do this, you would normally right-click your mouse on the Windows desktop and select the Screen resolution menu item.  Since there’s only one mouse button to click on the MacBook Pro trackpad, press two fingers down at the same time to bring up the context menu.  On the Screen Resolution dialog, click Make text and other items larger or smaller.  On the Display dialog, check the Let me choose one scaling level for all my displays checkbox to bring up the screen shown below:

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It’s now just as simple as selecting Extra Large – 200% and clicking the Apply button to make your Windows Retina display more readable once you sign out and then sign back in.  That’s all there is to it.

From there, go ahead and install all those essential Windows apps like Office, Visual Studio, Hyper-V, SQL Server, and all your PC games!

Happy Computing,
Rob

Sharing my knowledge and helping others never stops, so connect with me on my blog at https://robtiffany.com , follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RobTiffany and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/robtiffany

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