Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

Summary: Microsoft seems to have got some things right, missed the mark on others, and totally missed the mark in other areas.

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I've been working my way through Microsoft's Windows 8 tablet hardware requirements and in my option it's a mixed bag. Microsoft seems to have got some things right, missed the mark on others, and totally missed the mark in other areas.

Let's take a tour of the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

  • Minimum display size is 1366 x 768 - that's a good move.
  • Cameras must be 720p or better.
  • Physical 'touch marks' for NFC hardware sensor to make using it easier.
  • One USB port, Bluetooth 4.0, WLAN, gyro, accelerometer, speakers, light sensor, and magnetometer must be fitted.
  • Rebootless display driver update.
  • Firmware must be UEFI (death to the BIOS!).

The Bad

  • No mandatory USB 3.0 support, only USB 2.0.
  • Too many mandatory hardware buttons - power, rotation lock, Windows key, volume up and volume down buttons. Odd there's not a mute button too ...
  • Windows 'Start' button is a physical button, like it is on Windows Phone hardware. I'd still much prefer a software button.
  • Five-point touch. Maybe I'm spoiled by the 11-point touch present on the iPad.
  • No mention of a Kensington security slot. These are handy on business hardware.
  • There must be at least 10GB of free storage after the Windows 'out-of-the-box' experience has completed. That doesn't feel like a lot to me,

The Ugly

  • No mandatory battery life specs. Microsoft talks a lot in the documentation about 'All Day Battery Life' but there are no hard numbers for OEMs to adhere to. Will any Windows 8 tablet match up to the iPad's 10-hours of juice?
  • No mandatory camera requirement (except that if fitted it MUST be 720p or better). This seems strange.
  • No '2 second resume' rule for ARM hardware while PCs must resume from S3 standby in 2 seconds or less. Seems odd not to push for a lower limit, even if it's not 2 seconds.
  • Secure boot feature on ARM cannot be disabled. This seems like a slippery slope to me.

There's one factor that we're still unclear on - price. I still think that this will be the make or break factor for Windows 8 tablets. If the price is right, people will give them a chance, if not, they'll give their money to Apple.

What are your thoughts on the Windows 8 tablet requirements?

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Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Windows

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41 comments
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  • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

    Had to disagree with the bad and ugly sections. The Win 8 tab requirement seems to be well balanced so that OEMs can make them at a variety of price points.
    owlnet
    • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

      @owlnet

      Yeah, I also disagree. It's mostly a list of stuff Microsoft did <i>not</i> require. But let's face it: any tablet manufacturer who tries to cutr corners here will likely not succeed in the market.
      dsf3g
  • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

    5 touch points is a minimum requirement not maximum. OEMs are free to increase the touch points.
    Also cameras are not allowed in certain high security installations or R&D departments. So I guess it makes a good use case for business.
    1773
  • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

    Having used my Samsung Series 7 slate for 4 months now, I can attest to the sense in Microsoft's slate/tablet requirements.

    Regarding buttons: Having physical volume up & down, rotation lock and power buttons is great. This slate does have the Windows button but I rarely use it, preferring the "swipe from the right" action instead for some reason, even though swipe & click is one click more! Not sure why you feel these buttons are "excessive"

    It'll be very difficult for Microsoft to mandate battery life as this is highly variable based on what the user uses the device for and whether the user is powering one or more USB devices (perhaps this is why MS doesn't mandate USB3 which can pump A LOT more power out to devices than USB2?).

    It'll also be difficult for Intel-based slates to meet any meaningful battery-life expectation as their mid & high-end processors currently trade power consumption for processing horsepower. For example, I can get 2.5-3 hours constant use out of my Samsung slate, but I expect more from Intel's IvyBridge processors and, of course, much more from ARM powered devices. This is definitely an area for OEM's to differentiate their offerings.

    All in all, I think MS has done a good job of providing a solid definition of Win8 certified devices' capabilities without being too heavy-handed.
    bitcrazed
    • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

      @bitcrazed I highly doubt Intel-based tablets will use Ivy Bridge processors. If anything they will use the newly announced Atom processors announced during IDF last year and at CES this year - Medfield (2012), Silvermont (2013), Airmont (2014). These are designed for tablets & smartphones.
      smulji
      • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

        @smulji - At the low-end, limited-function tablet end of the market, I am sure that Atom processors will have a presence.

        I am fully expecting that business-focussed tablets that can be docked with a keyboard base, in a manner similar to the Acer Transformer does, or docked to a docking station as the Samsung does. Such tablets can double as laptop/desktop replacements whilst also having the portability and touch-screen that will enable them to become tablets when appropriate.

        I've quite taken to using my Samsung slate docked to its docking station as my main office workhorse and using my other laptops for development work.
        bitcrazed
  • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

    I hate this comment system always losing my posts. I don't feel like typing up again why I believe this article to be flawed, though I will say...why are you complaining about having PC level harddrive space when you just got finished writing an article about how we've moved away from needing it? Cloud only and all that jazz. If you really need more than 10GB, maybe you're not as post-PC as you thought.
    Aerowind
    • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

      @Aerowind

      Type your comment in a text editor beforehand and then paste it into the ZDNet comment box. This will save you a lot of frustration.
      kenosha77a
    • Same here

      @Aerowind <br><br>Send a note to Tammy Cavadias ( tammy.cavadias@cbsinteractive.com ) to find your post in the thread and she'll unblock it for you.<br><br>The spam filter seems to be getting more and more agressive as of late.
      Joe_Raby
  • Article is rediculous

    Seriously, all of your complaints in the Bad/Ugly are really off-base. The minumim requirements seem totally reasonable to me. In fact they are great! You're treating them like they are absolutes. They're great minimums and will let manufacturers differentiate and provide for more price points based of features. Again, silly article that is making up things to complain about. How about some real journalism instead of coming up with this crap.
    chrisconnolly
    • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

      @chrisconnolly

      Agreed. There a "minimum" requirements. That means even the cheapest tablet is going to have at least these specs. Anything better than flea market sales will have much better specs. For that matter, even flea market tablets will have at least these specs.
      tallbruva
  • Not everybody needs or wants a camera.

    In some cases, a camera can be bad, especially if it is to be used for a child. Having the camera on a child's computer is one more thing a parent has to worry about when they are online.

    And not everybody needs one. When I buy laptops or PCs at work nowadays I get questioned as to why I have a camera built in, and the reason is basically that I didn't really want it but the overall price and specs of the product were the best available despite the fact that it had something I did not want. But if I could have saved $30 and not gotten the camera I would have. I think a lot of other buyers would feel the same way.
    Michael Kelly
  • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

    The bad and the ugly parts can be ignored as you made no real case for it. All the specs sound reasonable, even your so called bad and ugly. 10gb of free space is a minimum. 720p camera is a minimum. Most devices are still USB 2.0. A kensignton slot? Really? Battery life depends on the hardware and software. No need to disable secure boot feature since you will want to use Windows on it anyway. You just wanted to find something wrong with Windows 8 tablets but really couldn't come up with anything.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

    You're completely wrong. The brilliant minds at Microsoft know best what these tablets should contain. Mark this date, as it is the day that that stupid Crapple Ipad begins it's slide into irrelevancy. Within six months of the first Windows 8 tablet goes on sale Crapple will lose the tablet war! Just like they will lose their marketshare in phones by September to Nokia
    Stephen-B
    • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

      @Stephen-B

      What about the Android tablets?

      Nokia admitted defeat when they decided to sell Windows Phone. But Nokia is large company with a lot more business than smartphones and they do have the option to just abandon Windows Phone if it does not bring them enough profit, or image.

      If Microsoft are so great, why don't they come up with their own product, that includes the hardware as well? Until they do, they will have the fate of Google in this market.
      danbi
      • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

        @danbi Hemmoroid tablets are not selling. Windows 8 tablets will sell more on their debut weekend than any other product in the history of the world. Expect over 100 million units within six months. The best part is each sale of a Windows product is a small stab at those thieves that write Linsux, and Crapple MAC ios.
        Stephen-B
    • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

      @Stephen-B <br><br>Are you mkaing fun of Microsoft fanboys, or are you one of them. Hard to tell.
      dsf3g
  • Good move?

    **Minimum display size is 1366 x 768 - that???s a good move.**

    I disagree. This is a very awkward resolution. if 1366 is the width, 768 is way too low.
    Bart B. Van Bockstaele
    • RE: Windows 8 tablet requirements - The good, the bad and the ugly

      @Bart B. Van Bockstaele

      It may be awkward, but such displays are the cheapest available.
      danbi
  • Far be for me to disagree with you, but....

    Picky, picky, picky....

    ???No mandatory USB 3.0 support, only USB 2.0.
    -I can live with this as, other than external hard drives, I don't see any other devices that require USB 3.0

    ???Too many mandatory hardware buttons - power, rotation lock, Windows key, volume up and volume down buttons. Odd there???s not a mute button too ???
    -Why would you need a mute button when that'll be available as a soft button on screen. The minimum buttons required sound fine to me. Besides, these'll be tablets, not phones, so there'll be a lot of space to place them without being in the way.

    ???Windows ???Start??? button is a physical button, like it is on Windows Phone hardware. I???d still much prefer a software button.
    -But your precious Apple iPod/iPhone/iPad devices all have an equivalent button (the Home button). The Windows button is also required to be used to do a hard boot (just like the aforementioned Apple devices when they crash) by selecting it and the power button for a few seconds.

    ???Five-point touch. Maybe I???m spoiled by the 11-point touch present on the iPad.
    -Last I looked, I had five fingers on each hand. A five-point touch MINIMUM requirement sounds right to me.

    ???No mention of a Kensington security slot. These are handy on business hardware.
    -This is not something that is in anyway associated with software, now it sounds like you're stretching to find something wrong.

    ???There must be at least 10GB of free storage after the Windows ???out-of-the-box??? experience has completed. That doesn???t feel like a lot to me.
    -Again, a MINIMUM. This also doesn't account for the fact that many devices will have a slot for external memory chips and that you can connect an external drive via the USB 2.0 interface.

    ???No mandatory battery life specs. Microsoft talks a lot in the documentation about ???All Day Battery Life??? but there are no hard numbers for OEMs to adhere to. Will any Windows 8 tablet match up to the iPad???s 10-hours of juice?
    -Because you'll be able to do so much more with a full OS like Windows 8, as opposed to a partial OS like iOS, I wouldn't expect a Win8 tablet to meet the iPad's 10-hour 'labratory' battery life. That being said, at least a 6 hour battery life would work for me for constant usage. I anticipate using my Win8 tablet for a good part of the day plugged into a docking station so I can use a real keyboard/mouse and display monitor. 6 hours of minimum unplugged usage time would be more than adequate IMHO. For use on a long flight across the ocean, this'll be a problem, but perhaps someone could manufacture a battery unit that'll plug into the external power connection to extended use.

    ???No mandatory camera requirement (except that if fitted it MUST be 720p or better). This seems strange.
    -A minimum 720p camera is good for video, but I think it's safe to assume that for still images the resolution of most, if not all, devices will be much higher (remember that 720p resolution is not even 2MP)

    ???No ???2 second resume??? rule for ARM hardware while PCs must resume from S3 standby in 2 seconds or less. Seems odd not to push for a lower limit, even if it???s not 2 seconds.
    -Again, Windows 8 is a real desktop OS, unlike iOS and Android which are significantly less capable OSs. I would hope that if an x86 tablet can wake from sleep in 2 seconds that an ARM one could do the same, but that remains to be seen since none of those devices exist yet.

    ???Secure boot feature on ARM cannot be disabled. This seems like a slippery slope to me.
    -This so-called issue has been dealt with by other bloggers with an agenda. I don't see it as a slippery slope at all for the 99% (like the occupy movement, this number has no basis in reality, I just put it there for shock value, so no comments on my need to prove it, please) of users who don't want to install another OS onto these devices. If you really want to install Linux/Android onto these devices, I'm sure someone will come up with a way to do it that isn't supported by the hardware manufacturers and Microsoft.
    sean_hando@...