By Alexandra Burlacu | Mar 31, 2013 12:04 PM EDT
Microsoft quietly loosened the logo requirements for new Windows 8 devices to allow its hardware partners to build devices with lower resolutions.
The move suggests that Microsoft may join the trend of smaller, less expensive tablets with new devices that would compete with popular 7-inch and 8-inch devices such as the iPad Mini, the Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus 7. By the looks of things, a Microsoft Reader may not be too far off. Will the long-rumored Reader launch along with the Windows Blue update this summer?
The company's updated certification rules now allow for devices with screen resolutions of 1024 x 768 pixels, at a depth of 32 bits. Microsoft, however, warned developers that the change doesn't mean they now have a green light to build hardware with low-resolution displays.
"This doesn't imply we're encouraging partners to regularly use a lower screen resolution," explains Microsoft. "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."
It just so happens that the new resolution allowed for Windows 8 devices matches the display of the iPad Mini, which sports a 7.9-inch screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768. Apple is also still selling the iPad 2, which has the same resolution on a larger 9.7-inch display, hence with a lower pixel density.
Meanwhile, Windows 8 devices that feature Microsoft's newly-approved resolution will no longer have the "snap" feature, which allows users to see two Windows Store applications simultaneously, side-by-side. Microsoft requires manufacturers to disclose this drawback "to avoid potential customer disappointment."
On the other hand, Microsoft may consider lower resolutions to compete with the iPad, but some reports suggests that Apple is in fact working on a second-generation iPad Mini that would sport a Reina-caliber display and would reportedly make its debut this year.
Microsoft currently has its Surface tablet with Windows RT as the closest competitor to the regular-size iPad. The Surface with Windows RT sports a 10.1-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Comparisons between the two slates found that the Microsoft Surface outperforms the iPad 2, but is no match for the newer, full-size iPad models with Retina displays. Will Microsoft try its luck in the 7- and 8-inch range?
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