Microsoft has made a small but significant change to the resolution requirements for Windows 8 devices. The upshot is that the company will now allow manufacturers to put Windows 8 on smaller 7" tablets that could compete with Apple's iPad Mini.
ZDNet's Ed Bott reported, "The new guidelines relax the minimum resolution for Windows 8 devices to 1024 x 768 at a depth of 32 bits. That’s a significant change from the current guidelines, which require a minimum resolution of 1366 x 768 for a device to be certified with the Windows 8 logo. From the announcement, it appears that the new guidelines are effective immediately, but it’s likely that any new devices that use this form factor will ship along with the forthcoming Windows Blue update."
The Apple Insider quoted a Microsoft statement, which said, "This doesn't imply 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."
Ars Technica's Peter Bright noted, "During Windows 8's development Microsoft blogged that the operating system was designed for screens of about 10 inches and up. Those decisions likely reflect the company's consistent viewpoint that tablets are merely another kind of PC and are productivity devices just as much as they're consumption ones. Since then, a number of successful sub-10 inch tablets have found varying degrees of success—the Google Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire HD, and of course, the iPad Mini. These devices have screens that are about 7 or 8 inches big, and accordingly low resolutions (1280×800 for the Android pair, 1024×768 for the Apple device)."
SlashGear's Craig Lloyd commented, "If a 7- or 8-inch Windows tablet does, indeed, step into the limelight, it’ll be interesting to see if they catch on. Currently, Microsoft’s Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets haven’t been selling well, so if manufacturers get the price right with the smaller variants, they could squeeze their way in with the other Android and iOS offerings."