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that's a lot of visitors to serve with a side scroll!
Yeah, like me ;-)
But I do think that all of us laggards are going to have to take the step up to 1024 whether we like it or not. And it's not really 'Net-driven (yeah, there are other forces in this world), it's much of the other software that demands higher rez.
Turns out I recently discovered that most of today's multimedia software is unusable at 800 x 600, the UI opens larger than the screen.
So I'm going to have to make the move, but it will be kicking and screaming.
<added>But of course my sites will still serve 800 x 600 without a side scroll.</added>
I've noticed that older people or those who are not technically saavy 1) browse fully maximized a great deal, either because it's hard for them to resize windows in Windows or because they don't know how, or because they do not multi-task, and 2) often browse with a sidebar open with bookmarks or some plugin, because it is easier to click on them or again because they don't know how to turn it off. Even on a 1024x768 display this cuts usable space down to about 800 wide.
So if the site is purely informational, ie.e, no emotion needed, then a fluid design checked at 800x600 makes sense.
One of my monitors is 1600x1200, so I frequently view two sites side by side. If a site needs to be fixed for artistic impact, I prefer 800x600.
I've been playing with Flash that rescales vector graphics to fill whatever size the browser window is.
I am seeing more and more wide screen resolutions in the logs too.
Personally speaking 750px will always be my starting point for page width.
The site should certainly degrade well down to 800x600 and be able to get by at even less I think. I certainly don't want to have to view sites maximised all the time and having to enlarge the window (or scroll sideways) to view content is annoying.
Also, it's not just monitors you have to think about these days... handhelds, phones, and other small screened devices.
And certainly fixed-width 1024x768 (as opposed to fluid) designs tend not to print too well, without an alternate stylsheet.