Starting in 2023, all laptops with Windows 11 pre-installed will have at least one front-facing webcam. The decision comes directly from Microsoft, in an attempt to ensure that all models have basic functionality, but what does that mean for our privacy?
There is nothing that better demonstrates how the global pandemic has changed the demands of users than by looking at the demand for laptops with webcams. Before February 2020, these cameras were hardly used by anyone, and they were only useful for a few professional users.
Manufacturers like Asus saw this as a golden opportunity to ditch a part and not only save on costs, but also reduce the thickness of the screen edges . Others like Huawei looked for new places to put the webcam, seriously affecting use, but what did it matter if we were going to use it only occasionally?
The popularization of telecommuting and group video calling due to the pandemic changed everything. Sales of USB webcams skyrocketed, and the inclusion of a camera was once again vital when choosing one laptop or another. Now, some brands tell elEconomista.es that they have gotten the message, and will once again include webcams on their devices.
Soon, they will have to do it forced by Microsoft. Among the new requirements of Windows 11 is one aimed only at laptops: the need for a front camera ; and not just anyone. You will need relatively advanced features such as resolution in high definition or better, auto exposure, and auto white balance to get a quality image.
The new requirement begins in 2023 , so the first laptops with Windows 11 will still be able to “slip through” and not include a camera; but from that year on, all models will have to include it. At the moment, desktop computers are saved and will not have to include a webcam, but it seems that it is a matter of time; the “all-in-ones” will probably be the first.
Security and espionage?
There are several reasons Microsoft is suddenly so interested in webcams. The first is Windows Hello, your identification system ; Microsoft wants it to be natural for the laptop to unlock just by getting closer, something that some laptops like the Asus ExpertBook already offer.
This is associated with the other requirement that all Windows 11 laptops will have: a TPM 2.0 chip, responsible for encryption and cryptography that will improve security in these logins.
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The other reasons sound a bit more dystopian. It’s no secret that Microsoft is investigating methods to improve productivity at work, including using cameras to study body language and facial expressions.
These algorithms are capable of knowing if someone is really paying attention to what is said in the meeting, or if they are “bored”; officially, Microsoft presents it as a tool for companies to improve their work environment, but the fear is that it can be used to punish, or even fire, those who are not “attentive”. A Windows 11 laptop with a webcam would be capable of all that, but it remains to be seen if Microsoft is willing to implement this technology at that level.