Microsoft recently unveiled the latest-gen Windows 11 that comes with loads of productivity and gaming improvements. The software is yet to provide a concrete timeline on its rollout, though it has now released a new document that contains ‘Minimum Hardware Requirements’ for the next operating system. One of the most notable (yet bizarre) requirements is the availability of a front camera on the laptop, which is still optional for now. However, this hardware requirement appears to be mandatory for all Windows 11-laptops and not desktop PCs from January 1, 2023. In the Windows 11 requirement document, Microsoft notes that the front camera must have at least HD (1280×720 pixels) resolution with a minimum of 15 fps. In low light conditions, the camera must maintain 10fps. It must also support auto-exposure and auto-white balance, the document notes. The development indicates that Windows 11 might not support or work on laptops with no or sub-HD cameras from 2023.
Microsoft states that “if a dedicated camera button is implemented, it can be a dual-action camera button with the ability to detect ‘half-press’ and ‘full-press’ as distinct separate actions or a single-action camera button that does not support a ‘half-press’ functionality." The exact reasons for the Windows 11 hardware requirement remain unclear in the document though it is likely to enable Windows Hello, which is Microsoft’s facial recognition system for a convenient passcode-less sign-in. The new requirement could lead to an uproar among privacy advocates amid fears that tech giants have unsolicited access to laptop’s (or any hardware) cameras or microphones. Similarly, this could also give OEMs a chance to showcase their laptops with a dedicated mute button for microphone and camera with camera shutter to cover the lens. Notably, Microsoft’s document recommends OEMs to add “physical controls in the form of camera privacy shutters" and “optionally include notification LEDs (NLEDs) or an on-air indicator LED which provides visual notification when the camera is in use." Apple had addressed this problem with iOS 14 with LED light indicators that essentially alerts a user when apps or any programmes are accessing the camera or the mic.