Microsoft has relaxed its hardware certification on Windows 8 so that devices can sport a resolution of 1024 x 768 at a depth of 32-bits. The move could bring about a number of 7- to 8-inch tablets to rival Apple’s iPad mini.
"This doesn't imply we're encouraging partners to regularly use a lower screen resolution," said Microsoft, when detailing the change in hardware certifications on its Windows Certification Newsletter.
"In fact, we see customers embracing the higher resolution screens that make a great Windows experience. We understand that partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful."
Not everyone was sold on Microsoft’s reasoning behind the move, with ZDNet writer Ed Bott (who first spotted the news) suggesting that we may now see the introduction of smaller and cheaper Windows 8 tablets, even including a Surface-branded eReader manufactured by Barnes & Noble.
“That last, somewhat cryptic line telegraphs a possible reason for the change,” said Bott.
“It’s no secret that some of the most successful new tablets are inexpensive (sub-$299) devices with 7- and 8-inch displays. The new resolutions would allow manufacturers to introduce devices that are in line with the resolutions of the iPad mini (1024 x 768) and the Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7 (both 1280 x 800).”
The downsides of the change, which may well coincide with the launch of Windows Blue later in the year, is that these Windows 8 devices will not be able to do the operating system’s “snap” feature, which allows two Windows Store applications to be viewed side-by-side at the same time.