Windows 8 tablets will require five-finger multi-touch, 720p cameras and 1366-by-768 resolution screens, according to documentation released by Microsoft.
Rafael Rivera, who blogs at Within Windows, picked through Microsoft's Windows 8 hardware certification requirements and reported some key findings.
Notably, all Windows 8 tablets and tablet-laptop hybrids must have five hardware buttons: power, rotation lock, volume up, volume down and a Windows key. These tablets must support five touch points at a time, and include an ambient light sensor (for auto brightness adjustments, most likely), magnetometer (for compass applications), accelerometer and gyroscope (for motion controls).
Windows 8 tablets will also have to meet some minimum specs, including 10GB of free space, a 720p camera, Direct3D 10 support and 1366-by-768 resolution. Microsoft has previously said Windows 8 would accommodate 1024-by-768 devices, but without support for side-by-side app viewing.
Rivera didn't report any processor or memory requirements, but Microsoft has said that all Windows 7 machines will be able to run Windows 8. For the Windows 8 Developer Preview, a 1GHz processor was required, plus either 1GB of RAM for 32-bit systems or 2GB of RAM for 64-bit systems.
Some devices may have additional requirements depending on features. For example, devices with near-field communications technology must have "touch marks," indicating where the sensor is located for communicating with another device. And tablets joined to a domain must use the power button plus the Windows button in place of Ctrl-Alt-Delete to log in. Finally, x86-based machines must resume from standby in two seconds - a requirement that has been in place since Windows 7. That requirement will not apply to ARM-based Windows devices.
There aren't any big surprises in this list, and many of the requirements seem like reasonable ways for Microsoft to enforce some consistency among Windows 8 hardware makers. The only controversial requirement, pointed out by the Software Freedom Law Center, is a mandatory Secure Boot feature for ARM-based Windows 8 devices. This requirement will prevent users from installing alternative operating systems, such as Android, and essentially locks down ARM-based Windows 8 hardware.