Microsoft changes the hardware rules for Windows 10, Mobile

July 29 is expected to bring a lot of changes to Windows land, some of them good, some of them not so much. But the tides of change aren't just for end users. Even Microsoft's OEM partners are getting a taste of it as well. Microsoft hast just updated it guidelines for which hardware specs will be allowed to run which Windows 10 version. On the one hand, while the new requirements opens the door to a new class of devices, it also raises the minimum higher, excluding others.

Microsoft is traditionally seen to take the middle ground between iOS and Android when it comes to hardware requirements. Since Apple is both software and hardware maker, there is really no problem for iOS. Android, on the other hand, varies so wildly in the phenomenon nicknamed "Android fragmentation." Microsoft has a set of minimum requirements that determine whether a device class runs the full Windows 10 or Windows 10 Mobile. For smartphones, it practically also lists the proper combination of screen resolution and RAM size.

For Windows 10 on desktops and tablets, Microsoft has extended the minimum requirement down to devices with 7-inch screens as long as they fall under "tablet", "2-in-1", "laptop", or "all-in-one". Previously, the requirement was 8 inches minimum. However, Microsoft does balance it out by raising the requirement when it comes to RAM size, making it 2 GB minimum across both 32 and 64 bit CPUs. So while on the one hand it embraces smaller tablets, it also rejects entry level, budget ones.

Things are bit strange on the mobile side as well. Microsoft's screen size requirement for Windows 10 Mobile now includes devices up to 9 inches in size, which includes both phablets and tablets. Two weeks ago, Microsoft already raised the minimum requirements for RAM from 512 MB to 1 GB. While one might argue that even entry level smartphones these days already have 1 GB of RAM at least, but it does close the doors on existing Windows Phone devices that don't make the cut. It could also be Microsoft just retroactively justifying its decision not to upgrade some of its Lumia phones to Windows 10 Mobile.

The Windows 10 Mobile screen requirement is a bit curious, if not worrying. 7 to 9 inches is clearly in tablet territory, which shows Microsoft's interest, or at least complacence, in creating a new breed of Windows 10 Mobile tablets. That might not be so bad if it didn't reek of Windows RT all over. While the app situation now is significantly better than before, Windows 10 Mobile's selection is still limited to apps in Windows Store, which may not fit every user's need. We'll be anxiously waiting for Microsoft's next move in this space.

VIA: Neowin