Earlier this year at the Microsoft Partner Conference, Microsoft announced that certification requirements for Windows 8.1 systems would be more stringent. Industry insiders believe that the move to tougher standards for OEM hardware is Microsoft’s attempt to bolster the flagging Windows 8 tablet market by pushing for industry leading hardware specifications.
What Changes Have Been Made?
With an eye on creating an environment conducive to success in the tablet market, Microsoft is changing many of the OEM specifications required for Windows 8.1 certification. The hope is that by increasing the minimum allowable requirements for certification, the Microsoft Surface and its family of Windows 8.1 tablets will better compete against the tablet market leaders.
The most interesting change detailed in the announcement is the requirement of including at least a 720p webcam with microphone on all OEM Windows 8.1 devices. Industry insiders believe that this upgrade in base webcam and microphone specification is an attempt to entice businesses and support the Microsoft backed Lync video conferencing platform.
In support of the webcam and microphone upgrades, Microsoft is also requiring an upgrade in the minimum quality of all integrated speakers contained in Windows 8.1 certified systems.
Beyond Windows 8...
Beyond the world of Windows 8.1 tablets, Microsoft is also changing requirements for other hardware applications. In machines that include NFC, or near field communication, the changes will require NCL standard conformity, which defines the way NFC controllers communicate with host devices through the use of drivers.
The changes will also require ARM-based Windows 8.1 devices to come equipped with “precision touchpads.” Other miscellaneous changes include a push for 802.11ac Wi-Fi support, support for systems that use standby mode to have 6 hours of video playback at standard resolutions, and the inclusion of fan status reporting on systems that use fan cooling.
Microsoft’s new Windows 8.1 certification requirements will be phased in over the 2014 and 2015 sales years.