Exploring the Windows 8 PC hardware requirements

There’s been much discussion this week about a Microsoft mandate for its new Windows 8 operating system, which requires that devices with ARM processors carry a controversial feature known as Secure Boot. This feature will limit the range of operating systems that can be used on the device. The information was discovered in an update to the 'Windows 8 Hardware Certification Requirements' documentation, published back in December.

In a post on Within Windows, Rafael Rivera has pointed to other revelations included in that updated documentation, which includes new information on the hardware requirements for Windows 8 systems. There’s a few highlights worthy of mention and the full documentation is available from MSDN.


Minimum system spec

As with any new Windows OS, Microsoft has established a basic set of hardware requirements on which the operating system is designed to run. For touch-enabled tablet devices and convertible PCs, Microsoft has established the following requirements (these are obviously subject to change before Windows 8 ships):

-  Storage: 10GB of free space following initial OS installation
-  Firmware: UEFI
-  Networking: WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0 + LE (low energy)
-  Graphics: Direct 3D 10 required with WDDM 1.2 driver
-  Resolution: 1366x768px
-  Touch: At least five touch points
-  Camera: 720p
-  Ambient light sensor: 1-30k lux capable, with dynamic range of 5-60k
-  Magnetometer
-  Accelerometer
-  Gyroscope
-  USB 2.0: At least one controller and one exposed port
-  Speakers


NFC

With near field communications (NFC) gradually proliferating across the technology landscape, Microsoft requires that NFC touch points must be highlighted on each device. Presumably to prevent bewildered users from bashing their tablets and notebooks against each other at random in a desperate bid to find the NFC sweet spots, “touch marks” are required to make this process simpler.


Hardware buttons

As with Windows Phone, Microsoft has established a set of hardware buttons that must be present on each Windows 8 device:

-  Windows Key
-  Power
-  Rotation lock
-  Volume up
-  Volume down

Presumably, manufacturers may add further buttons to this list if desired, but they must include those five at minimum. The Windows Key may come in various shapes – rectangle, square, circular, even a squircle – but it must have a minimum diagonal width of 10.5mm.


Two-second resume, except for ARM

Microsoft requires that Intel-compatible Windows 8 devices resume from standby to ‘resume complete’ in under two seconds, but this requirement does not extend to ARM systems.


CTRL + ALT + DEL shortcut

For touch and keyboardless systems, Microsoft demands that systems be able to implement CTRL + ALT + DEL functionality easily. The new shortcut for this on such devices is to press Windows Key + Power.


For now, these details will help us begin to understand what the first Windows 8 devices will look like when they go on sale later this year, beyond the engineering prototypes seen so far.

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39 Comments

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TsarNikky said,
This just confirms that Windows-8 is for tablet and smartphone devices. Very little for keyboard PCs.

How does a list of requirements for Windows 8 tablets "confirm" anything of that sort?

nekrosoft13 said,
bios can't/won't be updated to uefi

if they really need uefi, then 95% of current machines will not run windows 8


UEFI is capable of running on top of, or replacing BIOS implementations. That becomes an issue for the hardware vendor to resolve.
If it's reasonable to expect the hardware to require 16 bit bootstrap code, BIOS is the only realistic option. If 32/64 bit code is what the hardware vendor chooses to enforce, UEFI could easily be installed to replace legacy BIOS code, or could possibly be utilized in much the same way that LBA overlays were utilized to replace older hard drive limits.

nekrosoft13 said,
bios can't/won't be updated to uefi

if they really need uefi, then 95% of current machines will not run windows 8

Sigh, these are requirements for ARM tablets that ship with Windows 8.

primexx said,
will we be able to update existing BIOS to UEFI?

I think these requirements are only for tablets/touch enabled PC. I doubt they will REQUIRE uefi for every pc, that would be absurd. Plenty of good machines capable of running win8 still use BIOS.


If your motherboard does not use uefi you will not be able to update to it, you would need to get a new motherboard.

ViperAFK said,

I think these requirements are only for tablets/touch enabled PC. I doubt they will REQUIRE uefi for every pc, that would be absurd. Plenty of good machines capable of running win8 still use BIOS.


If your motherboard does not use uefi you will not be able to update to it, you would need to get a new motherboard.

First off, you are 100% wrong.
Windows 8 will support BIOS and UEFI. If you have a computer that supports UEFI, then you will have extended capabilities like, faster booting.

Windows will always support BIOS. It has too. A bunch of businesses who standardize on Windows, aren't going to run out and buy tons of systems just to support Windows 8.

Please get your facts straight. DUH!!!!!

primexx said,
will we be able to update existing BIOS to UEFI?

No you can't update a BIOS and make it UEFI. You would have to buy a computer/MB that has UEFI onboard. This is not something you can add at this point. However, for those with BIOS based boards, there have been dongles you can buy to bring EFI to almost any motherboard. But it doesn't support all boards. Most of the ones it does support are from Gigabyte.

Check here - http://asem.com.tw/en/efix-1-1.html

Windows 8 "certified" or "logo'd" pre-installs will require "Secure Boot" be enabled for Windows 8 to boot, but nothing precludes the OEM from providing tools to circumvent the setting or providing otherwise fully compatible though not "certified" hardware being sold.

Additionally, Linux "vendors" for instance could create a "signed" version for installation on secure-boot enabled hardware but the GPL would require public disclosure of the keys used to sign the OS / kernel (or not, but would then be violating the GPL) and thus either won't be secure or compliant with the self-imposed license restrictions.

Regression_88 said,
Windows 8 "certified" or "logo'd" pre-installs will require "Secure Boot" be enabled for Windows 8 to boot, but nothing precludes the OEM from providing tools to circumvent the setting or providing otherwise fully compatible though not "certified" hardware being sold.

Additionally, Linux "vendors" for instance could create a "signed" version for installation on secure-boot enabled hardware but the GPL would require public disclosure of the keys used to sign the OS / kernel (or not, but would then be violating the GPL) and thus either won't be secure or compliant with the self-imposed license restrictions.

They require it to be enabled, but most OEMs are shipping UEFI configs that easily allow you to turn it off. Will not allow duelbooting but should not stop someone from installing one or the other.

Spencer R said,

They require it to be enabled, but most OEMs are shipping UEFI configs that easily allow you to turn it off. Will not allow duelbooting but should not stop someone from installing one or the other.


Exactly.
Having Win8 on an ARM device won't keep you from installing another OS.
The OP said
.... requires that devices with ARM processors carry a controversial feature known as Secure Boot. This feature will limit the range of operating systems that can be used on the device....

The only limits to what OS can be installed are what the OEM facilitates and what the license restriction(s) of the desired OS are.

Rotation lock is a cool idea. I had something similar on my Windows Mobile. You could change the orientation with the hardware button.

FMH said,
Rotation lock is a cool idea.

It's a great idea, using it frequently on my iPad. Available through both an on-screen button and through a physical button on the right side of the device.

.Neo said,

It's a great idea, using it frequently on my iPad. Available through both an on-screen button and through a physical button on the right side of the device.

Cool.

Whilst I understand fully the reasons why it wont/cant happen, I'm still a little disappointed that my HP Touchpad will not see a Windows 8 installation.

On the other hand, roll on Windows 8!! :-)

WP7 said,
Whilst I understand fully the reasons why it wont/cant happen, I'm still a little disappointed that my HP Touchpad will not see a Windows 8 installation.

On the other hand, roll on Windows 8!! :-)

The requirements listed here are only for new tablets with the Certified for Windows 8 sticker. They don't apply to upgrades.

Josh the Nerd said,

The requirements listed here are only for new tablets with the Certified for Windows 8 sticker. They don't apply to upgrades.

He's talking about his WebOS based HP Tablet.

Sounds pretty fair. Will be great for consumers to have the same experience regardless of what device they will buy.

sam232 said,
Sounds pretty fair. Will be great for consumers to have the same experience regardless of what device they will buy.

Yes definitely.

I wonder what the ram requirement is ?

max22 said,

Yes definitely.

I wonder what the ram requirement is ?

At the Build conference they said, that it would have hardware specifications, lower or equal to Windows 7.
So I am guessing it is around 1 GB.

sam232 said,
Sounds pretty fair. Will be great for consumers to have the same experience regardless of what device they will buy.

Just like it's working with Windows Phone

Anthonyd said,

Just like it's working with Windows Phone

Gotta love the trolling. I think youll find that most people who try windows phone, love it. It just has an awareness problem is all.

TCLN Ryster said,

Gotta love the trolling. I think youll find that most people who try windows phone, love it. It just has an awareness problem is all.


Are you stupid? The overall user experience is the same since MS is applying the same licensing model for WP. There are spects that have to be achieved in order to receive a WP licence for commercial use. Example : All WP needs to be able to recognize up to 4 touch points simultaneously, so if you code a game for example using up to 4 touch points, then you'll know that it's working on all WP. In android, there is no requirement, so some phone supports 2 points only, some more.

So, you are calling that "trolling", get a dictionary.

Adrian0E said,

Probably at least 1GB of ram.


MS managed to get the base Win8 system processes to only use up about 300MB, but they will most likely require 2GB of ram to allow sufficient memory for multitasking.

Anthonyd said,

Are you stupid? The overall user experience is the same since MS is applying the same licensing model for WP. There are spects that have to be achieved in order to receive a WP licence for commercial use. Example : All WP needs to be able to recognize up to 4 touch points simultaneously, so if you code a game for example using up to 4 touch points, then you'll know that it's working on all WP. In android, there is no requirement, so some phone supports 2 points only, some more.

So, you are calling that "trolling", get a dictionary.

It wouldn't be a great experience when you buy a phone with just 2 touch points and when trying to play a game that you bought from Android marketplace, you realize that it needs four touch points, will it?
But when you're developing for WP, it just works on every single Windows Phone out there.

nithinr6 said,

It wouldn't be a great experience when you buy a phone with just 2 touch points and when trying to play a game that you bought from Android marketplace, you realize that it needs four touch points, will it?
But when you're developing for WP, it just works on every single Windows Phone out there.


This is exactly what I said.... what's the point of repeating it?

Anthonyd said,

This is exactly what I said.... what's the point of repeating it?

Because it is worth repeating.