Up until a couple of weeks ago, Microsoft required that all tablets made specifically to run Windows 8 have a minimum display resolution of 1366x768. This was because Microsoft also made 1366x768 as the minimum for Windows 8 Modern apps to run while in snap view mode.
A few days ago, it was discovered that the leaked build of Windows Blue actually lowered that app snap view minimum resolution down to 1024x768. As it turns out, Microsoft recently, and quietly, announced that Windows 8 tablets can now be made with a 1024x768 resolution screen, down from the previous requirement of a 1366x768 resolution.
Could we see a Surface that has a seven inch screen?
The change was announced on Microsoft's Windows Certification Newsletter earlier in March. In making the change, Microsoft stated that while their were not encouraging PC OEMs to offer a lower resolution for their Windows 8 tablet products, they admitted, "We understand that partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful."
There is one big caveat to this revised requirement. If a Windows 8 tablet is made with a 1024 x 786 resolution for its screen, the PC OEM maker must state up front to the consumer that such a tablet will not support the snap view for Windows 8 Modern apps. However, it does open up a way for PC makers to perhaps launch Windows 8 tablets that have smaller screens, such as seven or eight inches.
Microsoft says the Sony Tap 20 is not a tablet
Another interesting change in the newsletter concerns the upper limit on tablet screen sizes. We have seen products such as the Sony Tap 20 and the upcoming Lenovo Horizon and the Dell XPS 18 that are technically all-in-one PCs but can also be used as a really big tablet with a battery.
In the newsletter, Microsoft says having these large all-in-one devices acting as tablets was not what they had in mind, saying, "These larger systems aren't really designed to be handheld and mobile, so the tablet features aren't appropriate for them." So Microsoft has now changed their upper limit on Windows 8 tablets to 17 inches. It added, "Above that size, touch systems without batteries and attached accessible keyboards don't need to meet all of the tablet requirements."