Microsoft Paves Way for Smaller Windows 8 Tablets Microsoft is apparently making room for smaller Windows 8 tablets that could compete with devices like Amazon\u2019s Kindle Fire and Apple\u2019s iPad Mini. As spotted by Ed Bott at ZDNet, Microsoft\u2019s certification guidelines for Windows 8 now allow for tablets with resolutions as low as 1024-by-768. That\u2019s the same screen resolution and aspect ratio as the iPad Mini, and while Microsoft doesn\u2019t exactly say it\u2019s inviting smaller Windows 8 tablets. Smaller tablets have become popular in recent months because of their lower prices and greater portability. Market research groups IHS and DisplaySearch see 7- and 8-inch tablets as growing faster than larger screen sizes, possibly overtaking larger tablet sales in the next year or two. But at the moment, no sub-10-inch Windows 8 tablets exist, possibly because of the minimum 1366-by-768 resolution Microsoft requires for certification. On smaller displays, that widescreen aspect ratio would make the screen seem too skinny. The relaxed requirements allow for tablets that would run wider in portrait mode, or taller in landscape mode. There is one big drawback, though: Tablets that drop below 1366-by-768 won\u2019t be able to use Windows 8\u2032s Snap feature, which lets a second Windows Store app run in a sidebar next to the main app. Snap is one of the most useful and unique features of Windows 8, and although Microsoft will require tablet makers to disclose the lack of Snap, without it, smaller Windows tablets will lack a major selling point over other cheap tablets. The other problem is that if tablet makers start putting out 1024-by-768 Windows tablets, they\u2019ll essentially be competing with last year\u2019s iPad Mini. All signs point to Apple launching a Retina-display iPad Mini later this year, and it\u2019s likely that other tablet makers will bump up the screen resolutions of their small tablets. Between the lack of Snap and lower screen resolutions, there\u2019s not much of a reason to buy a small Windows 8 tablet instead of an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire or Nexus 7. Microsoft would need a killer feature \u2013 tight Xbox integration, perhaps \u2013 to stand out. In any case, don\u2019t expect 7- or 8-inch Windows tablets to arrive soon. As Bott points out, the smaller slates will likely launch alongside Windows Blue, an update for Microsoft\u2019s operating system due this summer.