Changes to aspect ratio with some Xbox Game Studios games when using Windows Snap

Windows Snap is an incredibly useful tool for productivity and multitasking at large. It allows those using a larger monitor or TV to emulate the functionality of having multiple displays to work with. Its greater purpose comes from the ability to reference while writing, troubleshooting, or using any other work related software, but it’s also fantastic for throwing video or messaging to the side while playing games. Lately, I’ve noticed that Windows Snap behaves differently when used with some Xbox Game Studios games.

Games like Halo Infinite now fill the entirety of a Snap layout instead of respecting a 16:9 aspect ratio. Ordinarily, this makes perfect sense. You don’t exactly want something like two distinct Firefox windows with black bars at the top and bottom. It defeats the purpose of having more screen real estate. But using Windows Snap, especially with more than two windows, means you’re going to be working with abnormal aspect ratios. This might be preferred for some people, but I personally find it distorts the clarity of the experience. Similar to stretching a movie to get rid of the black borders in a standard film aspect ratio like 2.39:1, things can appear off.

The changes to Windows Snap with Xbox Game Studios games like The Master Chief Collection can make things feel claustrophobic

It’s not exactly the same as zooming to fill on a TV, but it still leaves things feeling awkward when approaching custom window sizes that aren’t 16:9. The most obvious example would be splitting a 16:9 monitor or TV in half with two windows. I’ve tried ironing things out in the Nvidia Control Panel to no avail. Heading to Display > Adjust desktop size and position gives options for scaling. Even when I selected Aspect ratio, performed scaling on the GPU, and selected Override the scaling mode set by games and programs, Halo Infinite insisted on filling the window. The Master Chief Collection also behaved in the same way.

The changes to Windows Snap in some Xbox games don’t seem to come from an OS level

I’m not sure if this is an OS level change to Windows Snap as I tested Halls of Torment on Steam, and it maintained a 16:9 aspect ratio just as Halo Infinite did before. It could very well be that this issues is specific to 343 Industries games. I have The Master Chief Collection installed through Steam, and Halo Infinite misbehaved whether installed through Steam or the Xbox PC app.

I’d wager to guess that more Xbox Game Studios games have changed in the way they hook into Windows Snap, but I’ll have to do more testing to see for sure. It would be a shame – filling the window makes sense in most scenarios, but it just doesn’t look great in cases related to games.

If you’re someone who’s ran into the same issue and have been able to resolve it, please do let me know in the comments. It seems like using smaller TVs as monitors is becoming much more common, and I imagine people using ultrawide monitors might run into a lot more wonkiness with Windows Snap than most.

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