Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 07:26 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pcga, certification
Okay, so we all know I hate certification. Art platforms should be as open as possible to allow small businesses, hobbyists, and even casual users to share their expressions and ideas. Certification is the basis for my distrust of Windows Store and the "modern" Windows platform altogether. When you have someone between you and sharing, terms will be dictated for every transfer.
I am reminded of Harvest Moon which was pressured with ESRB certification (unclear where the pressure was coming from, however) to remove same-gender relationships in a North American release. If you build censorship, they will come. This is not censorship... but keep that in mind.
That said, the PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) should only get between you and an advertising logo. They will not prevent you from sharing your app, unlike Windows Store, but rather just not say you have a satisfactory title.
Testing will not be free, of course. A non-PCGA member will need to pay $500 per game to be submit their title for certification; another $2000 will be required to request help with certification from the organization.
Metrics that the certification looks at is whether it runs at a smooth 30FPS at 720p medium settings on some reference platform and whether it supports gamepad and couch use cases (if those users would reasonably expect that environment for the title... ex: StarCraft would probably be exempt).
I can see this being... okay. It is a bit pointless for users who do the slightest bit of research before they purchase a title. That said, under the condition that it will not be a mandatory certification, it might be beneficial for smaller companies to market their goods. Cheap endorsement for small businesses is not a bad thing as long as it does not lock the art, itself, in any way.
Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2013 - 06:50 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows 8.1, tpm 2.0, mwpc 2013, microsoft, hardware certification, certification, 802.11ac
At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference this year Microsoft detailed updated hardware certification requirements for Windows 8.1 systems. Among the changes, Microsoft is pushing for better security, media playback, video conferencing, and input precision in an effort to position Windows 8.1 as the best tablet platform. Hardware does not technically need to meet all of the standards in order to run the operating system, but OEM machines will need to check all the boxes in order to have their hardware branded as being Windows 8.1 certified.
According to an article over at ZDNet, Microsoft will be rolling out the certification changes over the next two years. In 2014, Windows 8.1 certification will require systems with Wi-Fi capability to also have Bluetooth functionality. Further, in machines with integrated displays such as laptops, tablets, and all-in-one desktops, OEMs will need to include at least an integrated 720p webcam with microphone. The bar for microphone and speaker hardware quality has also been raised, so systems with integrated speakers will need to pass a certain threshold of minimum quality to get Windows 8.1 certification. Mary Jo Foley expects that Microsoft is pushing the webcam and microphone requirements in an effort to entice business customers and push its Lync video conferencing platform.
Further, machines that come with NFC (Near Field Communication) will need to conform to the NCL standard which defines how an NFC controller communicates with the host device via drivers. ARM-powered Windows 8.1 devices will be required to have so-called “precision touchpads” while the more accurate touchpad hardware is merely optional for x86-64-based Windows 8.1 systems. Microsoft is also pushing for 802.11ac support, though it does not appear to be a hard requirement in order to get certification. Systems that support connected standby mode will also need to support at least 6 hours of video playback at the display's native resolution, and if the system has a fan used for cooling it will need to report its status to the Windows 8.1 OS.
Finally, by 2015 OEMs will need to support TPM 2.0 security technology into their systems in order to qualify for Windows 8.1 certification. The 2.0 standard is an update to the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) security specification and relates to a hardware chip on the motherboard that is used to store encryption keys.
In all, the certification requirements seem logical and are a step in the right direction. More details on the changes can be found on this Microsoft MSDN page on hardware certification requirements.