Microsoft has given Windows 8's attractiveness to tablet makers a significant boost by relaxing the minimum resolution requirements required for devices looking to get Windows 8 certification.
The change from a minimum of 1,366 x 768 to a lesser 1,024 x 768 means we should finally see the first smaller 7in or 8in Windows 8 tablets hitting the market from third-party manufacturers in the months to come.
When Windows 8 launched towards the end of last year, the complete absence of any rumours regarding smaller-screened Windows tablets quickly became apparent.
Microsoft said it had set its minimum resolution requirements for Windows 8 certification so high to avoid low-resolution Windows tablets flooding the market.
But the unwanted side-effect was that smaller 7in tablets at competitive prices were ruled out altogether, just at a time when they were become highly popular thanks to the likes of the Amazon Kindle Fire, Google Nexus 7 and Apple iPad mini.
Microsoft's change of heart has taken six months or so to happen, but does appear to be effective immediately.
“We're changing the System.Client.Tablet.Graphics.MinimumResolution requirement to create a consistent minimum resolution of 1024 x 768 at a depth of 32 bits across all Windows 8 system form factors,” Microsoft announced in its latest Windows Certification Newsletter, which is sent to hardware vendors looking at developing Windows 8-compatible devices.
“The physical dimensions of the display panel must still match the aspect ratio of the native resolution.
“This doesn't imply that we're encouraging partners to regularly use a lower screen resolution. 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.”
In other words, feel free to make small tablets, just don't make cheap tablets.