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2D Resolution Independant Code

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I've been pondering what the best way to do resolution independant 2D programming would be. Let's say my game is setup to run in 800x600 resolution, but the computer has the capabilities of 1280x1024. I don't want to have to have the computer run the game at 800x600 if it can do better, because it'll look pixelated. Another thing is, how can I handle running a game in the standard screen ratio, and the wide screen ratio without making it look stretched? Is that possible? So, what would you recommend as a method for keeping the game resolution-independant between resolutions and aspect ratios?

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