Microsoft knows exactly what it wants to see its OEM partners focus on when building Windows devices for 2017: cool designs, new experiences, and better performance. Those are the three main categories Microsoft identified in a slide titled, "What makes a modern PC?"
Windows device makers will have to figure out for themselves what constitutes a "cool design," though to get them started, Microsoft provided a bit of specific guidance.
Any thin and light laptops, 2-in-1 convertibles, and all-in-one systems should measure less than 21mm thick. They should also feature Full HD 1080p IPS displays or better, have precision touchpads (where applicable), and include some type of innovation. This could be a borderless display, some kind of special hinge design, or whatever.
Here's a look at the slide:
Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet says Microsoft provided this guidance at its WinHEC 2016 conference in Shenzhen last December. There were more than 140 hardware partners in attendance, to which Microsoft reiterated its goal of getting 1 billion people using Windows 10.
Microsoft's other advice for Windows device makers is to build more PCs for gamers and media buffs. It wants to see more high-end systems with DirectX 12 GPUs, and for them to tout HDR support and Xbox-compatible peripherals. The ultimate goal here is to bring Xbox and Windows PCs together through new designs.
OEMs would be wise to follow that bit of advice. While market research firms often point out that worldwide PC shipments are declining, the PC gaming sector has been thriving. Just last month, Jon Peddie Research revealed that the PC gaming hardware market breached $30 billion for the first time ever in 2016.
Microsoft would also like to see more PCs with discrete graphics capable of powering mixed reality experiences. With the upcoming Creators Update for Windows 10, Microsoft will be pushing new ways to interact with Windows. It also lined up several hardware partners to deliver lower cost VR headsets starting at $299.
Foley added that Microsoft is preparing a hardware launch of its own later this year that could include new Surface products. We doubt Microsoft will build its own brand gaming PC, though it would certainly be interesting if it did.