Microsoft outlines hardware requirements for Windows 8 tablets

by Doug Drinkwater

January 18 2012

Microsoft lays down the hardware requirements for slates running the tablet-optimized Windows 8 operating system in a 293-page document.

The document, which was released just before Christmas, is pretty conclusive on what a Windows 8 should have, and includes key points on tablet form factor, hardware buttons, display, NFC-support and storage. TabTimes picked out a few of the most important topics and listed them below.

Convertible design: Microsoft defines a convertible design as to being a standalone device which combines a PC, display and rechargeable power source, with a mechanically attached keyboard and ‘pointing device’ (we assume some kind of control product, like a mouse) in a single chassis. Microsoft explains that, as a convertible, the tablet can be transformed so that the display is the only method of input entry.

Display: Windows 8 tablets must have a display resolution of 1366 x 768 at a depth of 32bits. Microsoft says that the native resolution must match the native aspect ratio (which in the case of 1366 x 768 is 16:9).

Hardware buttons: Windows 8 slates will need to feature five hardware buttons for power, rotation lock, Windows Key, as well as up and down volume controls.

Broadband: GPS radio will be required for tablets with integrated mobile broadband.

NFC: Microsoft was keen to stress that devices supporting near-field communications (NFC) will need to bear some kind of visual mark, as a way to highlight this functionality to potential consumers.

An alternative to Ctrl-Alt-Delete: Microsoft’s document reveals that the tablets will also need to support an alternative to Ctrl-Alt-Delete, which will continue to work on Windows 8 tablets. The new shortcut will be Windows Key + Power.

"For Windows 8, the SAS (Secure Attention Sequence) signal will be sent when the combination of the Windows Key button and the Power Button is pressed,” reads the document.

Other recommends from Microsoft are that tablets should offer at least 10GB of free space, one USB 2.0 port, WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0 + LE (low energy) connectivity and a 720p camera. The tablet should also feature an accelerometer, a magnetometer and gyroscope.

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