I can see clearly now (the Vistas long)

Nope not another article about Microsoft Vista – this time its MaxiVista

MaxiVista from http://www.maxivista.com/ turns any spare PC into a second monitor for your main computer. No extra hardware required. You can extend program windows across multiple screens like it would be if you had a single big monitor. Increase your productivity by using multiple monitors and also the processing power of your second machine !!

So what is this about. Well – I have used a Dell Dimension 8300 with AGP and PCI dual headed cards to drive 4 monitors for a while. What do you need all the screen estate for I hear you say – mainly monitoring remote sites – researching and running office and helpdesk apps and I don’t want tiny icons or eye popping resolution.

However I also wanted to spread the load a bit and allow me to create some resilience if my main machine became unavailable – so I used another Dell I had with a dual headed on board display to host two of the screens. For a while I used VNC to control and manage the second machine but it can be unwieldy especially with VMware workstation running virtual machines !!

So I came across Maxivista and with its claim to allow you to use both screens on the secondary PC – I decided to give it a go. The results – it does do what it says but there are some things you might want to consider.

1) the setup can be a little confusing until you see what the end result is

2) the numbering of screens in Windows can be annoying

3) the flickering of screens when changing modes is irratating if you do it lots

but I think you will find it worthwhile if this setup is what you need.

Maxivista actually allows you up to 5 displays IN TOTAL (3 remote) but I haven’t tested it.

You install the software – decide how many screens you will have (only load the number you want other wise you will have spare tray icons for the ones not activated.

Install and run the client software on the remote machine – decide on the layout of screens in windows and their resolutions and finally start the “server” on the controlling machine.

You can then pick from remote control, extended screen or duplicated displays from the primary to the secondary machine.

Some screen shots will explain the interaction a bit better…

This shows the layout of the screens – this is through your desktop properties once the Maxivista software is installed. Note the numbering is seemingly a Windows issue and monitor 1 is primary machine – monitor 5 is on primary and the monitors 2 and 3 are the monitors on secondary machine with monitor 4 the unused one. The remote monitors are referred to as A B and C in the viewer taskbar icons.


The interaction with the remote screens and PC is through the taskbar icons that Maxivista adds


and these represent from left to right Monitor C , B and then A.

Finally a context menu from Monitor A shows


where you control the resolution and the mode of the screen.