New Windows 8 specs could open door for 7-inch tablets

The Windows 8 display specifications now allow for a minimum resolution of 1,024x768, a change from the previous 1,366x768.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft's move to relax the minimum resolution for Windows 8 devices could trigger a slew of seven-inch Windows 8 tablets.

An update to Microsoft's Windows Certification Newsletter, uncovered by Ed Bott of CNET sister site ZDNet announced the change in the required resolution for Windows 8 tablets.

To claim Windows 8 certification, a tablet can now offer a minimum resolution of 1,024x768 at a depth of 32 bits. That's a change from the previous guidelines, which specify a minimum resolution of 1,366x768. Microsoft said it isn't encouraging device makers to shoot for such a low resolution but noted that "partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful."

Tablets with screens larger than seven inches typically offer a resolution much higher than 1,024x768. In contrast, smaller tablets naturally tend to use use smaller resolutions. Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire both offer resolutions of 1,280x800, while Apple's current iPad Mini is stuck at 1,024x768.

Reading between the lines, Microsoft seems to be laying the groundwork for smaller Windows 8 tablets. That's a smart strategy given the popularity of seven-inch tablets.

Apple's iPad Mini has scooped up sales from its larger Retina Display counterpart. Smaller Android tablets such as the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire have helped Google's mobile OS steal more of the market away from the iPad. It seems time for Microsoft and its partners to carve out a slice of all that seven-inch tablet action.

A resolution of 1,024x768 does offer one problem in the world of Windows 8.

The snap app feature, which lets users snap two Modern apps side by side, requires a resolution of 1,366x768. Therefore, any tablet vendors who sell 1,024x768 Windows 8 devices must alert potential buyers that the snap app feature won't work, at least not without an external display.

But the upcoming Windows Blue may offer a solution to this dilemma.

Microsoft is reportedly tweaking the snap app feature to let 1,024x768 devices display two apps side by side, says The Verge. Devices with higher resolution would be able to display four apps next to one another.

 

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