Microsoft planning WP7-style hardware guidelines for Windows 8 tablets

One of the key features touted at the announcement of Windows Phone 7 last year was the limited hardware specifications that Microsoft permitted for the first wave of devices.  A key advantage of the decision to restrict the hardware configurations available to manufacturers, we were told, was that this would limit fragmentation, and result in a smoother and more reliable update process.

The dream didn’t exactly pan out that way for Windows Phone – as weeks of delays for both the February and March updates, and glitches with updating specific devices from Samsung in particular, will attest – but that’s not stopping Microsoft from choosing to impose similar restrictions on its new Windows 8 tablets.

In a speech at Computex, reported by Bloomberg, Acer Chairman and CEO, JT Wang, said that with the next version of Windows, Microsoft is “really controlling the whole thing, the whole process”, adding that component suppliers and OEMs “all feel it’s very troublesome”.

At this stage, it’s not known whether Microsoft will choose only to limit certain component choices (such as only supporting Snapdragon and Tegra chipsets, for example) for Windows 8 tablets, or if they’ll go further towards the Windows Phone 7 method of defining a minimum specification list that all devices must meet.

Bloomberg is confident that we’ll get our first glimpse of Windows 8 in a matter of days, citing three sources close to Microsoft, who also revealed that it would debut running on an Nvidia Tegra chip.  Microsoft has been working on an ARM-compatible version of Windows for some time, as it finally prepares to take on Apple's dominant iPad in the mobile computing space.

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