In a move that I’ve got mixed feelings about, Microsoft has announced that the minimum screen resolution for Windows 8 tablet devices is being lowered to 1024*768 instead of 1366*768. Side by side Windows 8 apps won’t be supported at this lower resolution though, and OEMs who ship these devices need to include a disclaimer along the lines of the following…

“The integrated display resolution of this system is below the threshold for snap, a feature that lets people view two Windows Store apps at the same time. App snapping will work if you attach an external display that supports a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 or higher.”

What’s Not To Like?

This lowers the already criticised consistency of working within Windows 8, and the side by side app capabilities are a big differentiator for Windows tablets in iPad compete situations. Now the matrix of Windows versions and capabilities will need an asterix or two to explain that this feature may not be available on your device.

At a time when higher pixel densities are being promoted by Apple and their Retina display marketing, the new Google Chromebook Pixel, and even the Surface Pro to a lesser degree, taking another step backwards in screen resolution is something I am not a fan of.

What’s To Like?

Most seem to think this is something that is acknowledging the move of Windows 8 to smaller form factors in time for the next holiday season. The value of side by side applications would be reduced in a much smaller form factor, but wouldn’t make the whole concept useless. You would just be much more selective about the apps you use in this manner.

Lower cost devices for emerging market scenarios are another scenario that this could enable, but these devices have an unfortunate habit of sneaking into mature markets, positioned as devices for education or other cost sensitive customers. Yes Intel folk, you know what I’m talking about here.

What I Would Prefer

Oh, that’s easy. I wish the Windows team would implement a fix for all of the applications that just don’t scale well with text size settings. While there have been incremental improvements in each version of Windows, Windows 8 has taken a small detour on this journey. Obviously this is something that is easier said than done, otherwise it would have been addressed a long time ago, but encouraging Windows usage on a higher variety of screen sizes and resolutions is only going to make these issues more apparent.