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We recently upgraded our workstations to multiple monitors. Our most enterprising effort was the use of three identical 19" displays on a Mac Pro. A Microsoft research study found that use of multiple monitors improves productivity by 9 to 50 percent:
The first study revealed that the users' productivity increased by 9 percent. Further studies showed even greater increases - at times up to 50 percent for tasks such as cutting and pasting. Mary Czerwinski, the VIBE research manager, is excited about her group's discoveries, asking, "If you're able to squeeze 10 percent more productivity out, do you know how much money that will save?"
After several weeks of use, we concluded that while two displays are significantly more useful than any size single display, the gain is not linear as additional displays are added. The problem is that three or more displays provide more screen real estate than can be efficiently navigated by even the most proficient computer users. Our recommendation is that nearly all users can benefit from dual display workstations. The productivity increase will almost certainly pay for the initial investment. [Microsoft Research: Two Screens Are Better Than One]