Microsoft Sets Windows 8 Tablet Design Requirements

Microsoft Windows 8 Tablets to Feature Powerful Hardware

by Anton Shilov
01/18/2012 | 08:32 PM

Microsoft Corp. has released documents with hardware requirements for media tablet PCs as well as convertibles running Windows 8 operating system. The requirements include high-definition screen, HD video playback, solid performance and ease of use. The software giant wants slates/convertibles powered by Windows 8 to offer premium experience, which may not initially allow them to be cost-efficient.


The front side of Windows 8 tablets and convertibles must be even and display should not be separated from border area with any physical edges so not to with the user's ability to interact with the edges of the display area. The border area should not be less than 20mm. Both media tablets as well as convertibles must have five physical buttons: power on/off/sleep, rotation lock, Windows  button that can be felt, volume up/down button. The tablet must have at least one USB 2.0 port as well as integrated speakers.

A Windows 8-based tablet demonstrated by Microsoft at CES

All Windows 8-based tablets - whether they utilize ARM or x86 microprocessor - must support minimum native display resolution of 1366*768 along with a minimum of Direct3D 10-class graphics with WDDM 1.2 support. Higher resolutions are welcome, but Microsoft obliges display/graphics adapter drivers to support all types of rotations/orientations without hassles or glitches. Microsoft also insists upon tablets ability to playback high-definition protected and unprotected 720p (WMV, H.264, VC-1, 5Mb/s-7Mb/s), 1080p (H.264, 5Mb/s), 1080i (12Mb/s) as well as AVCHD 1080i (20Mb/s - 35Mb/s) video content with 2-channel audio.

Tablets and convertibles powered by Windows 8 should not only fit Windows 8 operating system, but to leave at least 10GB of free space after completing "out of the box experience". Microsoft wants tablets to support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 +LE, webcam with 720p resolution support, UEFI. The slates and convertibles must also support magnetometer, gyroscope, three-axes accelerometer, ambient light sensor, aGPS if tablets are equipped with a WWAN tech.

With its requirements for design and hardware, Microsoft clearly does not want tablets or convertibles powered by Windows 8 to offer moderate user experience while being very affordable. The demands of the software giant are not excessive, but some of the hardware requirements essentially forbid certain hardware; still they also ensure that the mobile devices will provide the same user experience as modern desktops or notebooks. What remains to be seen is whether Windows 8-based tablets later this year will be able to compete against Google Android-powered devices in terms of both performance and price.