Updated: September 28, 2012
Windows 8 builds on the fundamentals of Windows 7 by providing richer security features, starting up faster, and running longer on your choice of devices and chipsets. Windows 8 extends these fundamental features with a new touch-optimized interface. Windows 8 also provides the platform to create a whole new generation of full-screen apps that are based on modern web standards and available through the new Windows Store. For Windows 8, we've redesigned the PC experience and built upon everything you already appreciate about Windows.
On this page, we've gathered current technical guidance and documentation about what's new for hardware designers, engineers, testers, and driver developers in Windows 8 to help you design, develop, and certify great hardware and drivers for Windows 8.
Windows 8 makes it easy for system and device manufacturers to tailor unique, value-added experiences for customers by creating Windows Store device apps to accompany their PCs or connected devices. Windows 8 can automatically install a device app from the Windows Store when users connect their device for the first time. In addition, a Windows Store device app has the ability to leverage the full range of features on a PC or device.
For Windows 8, creating, testing, and certifying touch hardware is simplified because you no longer need to create a touch driver for your hardware. Instead, you use the human interface device (HID) driver that is included with Windows 8. This frees you up to focus on creating hardware that delivers fast and fluid user interaction.
Designing great hardware experiences for Windows begins with reliability and compatibility. The Windows Certification Program provides you the tools, guidance, and support to help ensure your product is reliable and compatible with Windows. Windows Hardware Certification focuses on the requirements, policies, and tests for systems, devices, and drivers that run on Windows. If you create hardware products or drivers, we strongly encourage you to learn more about Hardware Certification, its benefits to you and your customers, and to use the new requirements and policies for Windows 8.
With the Windows 8 release of the Windows Driver Kit (WDK) and the Windows Debugger Extensions for Visual Studio, you can integrate your driver development and debugging environments into Microsoft Visual Studio. Most of the tools you need for coding, building, packaging, testing, debugging, and deploying a driver are available in the Visual Studio user interface.
You can now submit your devices, systems and drivers for Windows 8 certification using the Windows Dev Center Hardware Dashboard. Register or sign in using the Dashboard tab at the top of this page to submit Windows Hardware Certification Kit packages, device metadata, drivers for distribution, and to view telemetry reports for Windows 8 and other supported versions of Windows.
If you create hardware products or drivers, we strongly encourage you to learn more about Hardware Certification, its benefits to you and your customers, and to use the new requirements and policies for Windows 8. Certifying your products for Windows 8 helps ensure your products and drivers take full advantage of all that Windows 8 has to offer. Download the Windows Hardware Certification Kit (HCK) Release Preview to get the tools, processes, and tests to certify hardware for Windows 8 and all supported versions of Windows.
Proximity in Windows 8 supports near-field communication devices that enable communication between computers using a tap gesture. Proximity supports establishing a connection between peer applications on separate computers with a tap, and subscribing for and publishing of messages while devices are within proximate range.
For Windows 7, the only inbox sensor driver supported a single device-the ambient light sensor. In contrast, Windows 8 includes a new HID class driver that supports a virtually unlimited universe of sensors. This driver provides native support for sixteen specific categories of sensors. In addition, OEMs and IHVs will find support for sensors outside of these categories by using the Custom or Generic classes in the driver.
Windows 8 provides additional support for security features to help to prevent unauthorized firmware, operating systems, or UEFI drivers from running at boot time. These features include Secure Boot and support for factory-encrypted drives. UEFI firmware is required to support large disks (over 2 TB). This firmware can also provide faster boot and resume speeds, by reading and using data more efficiently.
You can find current technical information about UEFI in the following topics in the Microsoft Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) Technical Reference Guide. You can learn more and download the ADK from this location.
Windows 8 provides a new USB driver stack to support USB 3.0 devices. The new stack includes drivers that are loaded by Windows when a USB 3.0 device is attached to an xHCI host controller. The new drivers are based on the Kernel Mode Driver Framework (KMDF) and implement features defined in the USB 3.0 specification.