What's new

Surface Pro 3, 2nd Display, and Scaling (oh my)


New Member
First, an apology: I am new to the Surface world. I picked up a Surface Pro 3 for work yesterday and am thrilled, but I've encountered a problem: scaling. My second monitor is 1920x1080, and moving applications from my Surface to my external monitor has proven to be troublesome.

It looks like Office 15 is terrible when it comes to scaling. Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. look spectacular on my Surface Pro 3, but they are a blurry, fuzzy mess when I drag them over to my external monitor. Disabling the DPI scaling for Excel.exe through the registry (since 64-bit applications don't have a "Compatibility" tab) just increases the "size" of Excel on the secondary monitor instead of shrinking it on the Surface Pro 3 (I have no idea why that happened).

The solutions contained here ([Fix] Bold, Blurry or Hard to Read Font Problem in Windows 8.1 - AskVG) were not helpful, unfortunately.

I saw that general advice for the Surface Pro 2 was to just disable the scaling, but the 2160x1440 resolution makes that less than realistic.

The ideal solution would be to enable scaling on my Surface Pro 3 and not at all on the external monitor, but my understanding is that is not possible. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Edit: Chrome, wonderfully, scales relatively well. It looks sharp and properly-sized on my external monitor. On the Surface Pro 3 it is properly-sized but blurry.


As you said the general advice is to disable the scaling when you are connected to an external display. Until they release a driver or update the OS to allow different scaling on different screens, i think that's the best you can do right now. If that's even possible.

If you need a 2nd monitor, buy a second monitor... it would be more productive than trying to switch back and forth between a 12" screen and a 24" screen anyway, even if scaling wasn't an issue. And/or use the SP3 as a monitor but give it a dedicated task, like having Outlook open on it all the time.

This is a great topic to bring up though, as i'm sure it'll become a bigger and bigger issue as time goes on.
Definitely an issue for me. I used to have a desktop but for reasons sold it and got myself an SP3. Loving the experience so far, but the oversize experience on my 27" monitor doesn't make a lot of sense. Maybe my monitor's a few years old and the resolution isn't up to snuff with these new technologies, but it's a beaut of a display regardless and I shouldn't have to ditch it for a simple software fix. Hope this gets recognized as a problem and we get a patch!


I don't think this is "a simple software fix". Scaling is not just about how objects are displayed, it really changes how big they are. Supporting different scaling depending on the monitor would mean that objects can instantly change their dimensions in pixels (height, width...) whenever moved to another screen, which is not easy at all. Plus, what do you do if you have a window sitting partly on a screen and partly on another? Unfortunately I don't think this is going to be addressed soon. :(


New Member
Got the same issue and could work around it if it were not for fact that the Surface doesn't remember what scaling it's supposed to be using when the monitor is plugged in and when it's not.

If I plug a 1080p monitor in the task bar icons got really small on that display and the windows in Office apps look "muddy".

If I reboot with the monitor still attached the icons go back to normal and Office windows look sharp again.

Now, if I unplug the monitor the desktop on the SP3 in now scaled a 100%, making everything tiny.

Reboot and it goes back to normal.

Rather infuriating...


Well-Known Member
The problem with Office 2013 is that they (unwisely) changed the Cleartype algorithm because the method used in Office 2010 caused some ghosting when viewed in portrait. Because MS concluded the future was super high res tablets used in portrait, they decided to use a Cleartype method which would also look good in "tablet" mode. These were the same genuises that decided it would be great to force non-touch desktop users into the Metro UI.

So basically, Office 2013 will look awesome on your high PPI SP3 and like crap on your external monitors. Not SP3's problem, Office's problem. The scary part is despite TONS of complaints from users, MS still thinks they are right and won't be "fixing" it.

MS is the idiot savant of software - capable of brilliance at one moment but requiring help to wipe themselves at the next. This is why I still run Office 2007.


New Member
Windows itself is not remembering its DPI settings when switching between an external monitor and its own display. If this were just Office the task bar and explorer windows would not change as well. If this were just limited to Office I wouldn't have an issue.


Well-Known Member
As far as independent scaling to external monitors (for instance, running 150% zoom on your SP3 and 100% zoom on your 23 inch 1080p), let's pray MS gets this figured out in Windows 9 - but I won't hold my breath. They have been promising to "fix" this for years.


Well-Known Member
Windows itself is not remembering its DPI settings when switching between an external monitor and its own display. If this were just Office the task bar and explorer windows would not change as well. If this were just limited to Office I wouldn't have an issue.

Are you using the zoom slider or the percentages for scaling?


Although Windows 8.1 was supposed to have improvements in multi-display scaling (see here), it doesn't work that well if the dpi of the displays differ too much.

I think the only working solution at the moment is the expensive one: If you want to use an external monitor to work well with the high-dpi SP3, then use a high-dpi display.

The SP3 has 216 dpi. Depending on its size a 4K-display (3840 x 2160) has the following dpi:

4K @ 24": 185 dpi
4K @ 28": 157 dpi
4K @ 32": 140 dpi

A classic 24" full HD display has only terrible 93 dpi.


New Member
As I said, I don't have an issue setting the displays to look right. My issue it that it doesn't remember what it's set to when you switch between the two. Let me describe my use:

I have a 24" 1080P monitor on my desk with a keyboard and mouse (SP3 dock is on order).
When I want to use the SP3 "docked" I want this display scaled at 100% (or what ever is appropriate for that size of display) and the SP3 to remain scaled at 150% (or whatever the default is).

When I unplug the display the SP3 display does not go back to its default scaling unless I restart it. Same the other way around, can't get the scaling on the monitor to change to be correct if I just plug it in; has to be restarted.

Members online

No members online now.