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Lower screen specs hint smaller Windows 8 tablets incoming

Microsoft has changed its minimum screen resolution requirement for Windows 8 tablets, hinting smaller devices could be on the way.

Smaller Windows 8 tablets could be on the way, if Microsoft's new guidelines are anything to go by. This month, the Redmond-based company relaxed its certification specs for manufacturersThe Register reports. The minimum screen resolution has been dropped from 1,366x768 pixels to 1,024x768 pixels, meaning future Windows 8-running slates could have smaller screens than the current crop.

Does Microsoft have tablets like the Nexus 7 and iPad mini in its sights? An exec has already hinted titchier tabs could be coming soon, after all.

Windows 8 tablets didn't sell like hot cakes over the Christmas period, while smaller Android and iOS devices have been flying off the shelves of late. Some analysts reckon the iPad mini will outsell its bigger brother soon, so it's highly likely Microsoft wants a slice of that pie.

That minimum Microsoft screen res of 1,024x768 pixels just happens to be the exact same as that on the iPad mini, too. Which sounds more than mere coincidence.

It's not as simple as just dropping the minimum resolution required and watching sales soar, though. If the screen is lower than the previous requirement of 1,366x768 pixels, the "snap" feature (which lets you use two Windows 8 apps side by side) won't work. As such, anyone making a Windows 8 tablet with a lower screen resolution will have to spell this out to us punters.

Microsoft also says this greater range of sizes will help manufacturers in "certain markets". Which hints that smaller, cheaper Windows 8 tablets could find their way first to emerging markets such as China and India. But that doesn't rule out them hitting these shores.

What do you reckon? Would you like to see Windows 8 tablets come in smaller sizes? Or does Microsoft need to do something else to boost sales? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.