Windows-certified machines are getting a bit of an upgrade, but Microsoft's tweaks for what it wants third-party resellers to call an official "Windows system" aren't expected to go into play until 2014 at the earliest.
Microsoft's overall goal is to get Windows 8 clients up to scratch in a variety of key areas: speed, security, longevity (a device's battery life), connectivity, and what we're calling the "coolness factor" – biometrics, near-field communication, fingerprint readers, etcetera.
According to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft's been working with its OEMs to ensure that systems shipped with Windows 8 – soon, Windows 8.1 – will be caught up with some of the new features arriving in the OS update. This list includes the aforementioned NFC tweaks, as well as new support for those tapping into Windows 8 on a portrait-mode tablet (or slate system).
And that's just the tip of the update iceberg regarding Microsoft's overall intentions for Windows 8-branded systems. By January of 2014, Microsoft's laying down the first major hammer: All Windows-certified systems with Wi-Fi capabilities (which, in theory, would be just about everything) will have to also support Bluetooth as well. Tablets, notebooks, and all-in-one systems will be required to integrate front-facing 720p webcams, and all Windows 8 systems will be encouraged to adopt stronger microphones and speakers.
Or, as Microsoft phrases it, "New communication fidelity (InAir) requirement for integrated speakers and microphone to ensure a great voice and video communication experience."
Devices will also be required to increase their capabilities to better support Windows 8's Connected Standby feature (since renamed to InstantGo). Systems making use of Connected Standby will have to ensure that the battery can support at least six hours of video playback at the device's native resolution, and a system's fan – if present – must "report its status to the Windows Operating System."
Connected Standby latter allows devices to continually update Window's 8's apps with new information, as long as they're connected to a network source, via a low-power standby state.
One year later, Microsoft will require that all Windows 8 systems support the company's Trusted Platform Module 2.0 specification. In other words, increased support for system security, which includes additional cryptographic algorithms, enhanced authorisation mechanisms, and new ways that a device's TPM chip can interface with its applications.