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Starting in 2023, Windows 11 will require new laptops to have a front webcam

Hp Envy X360 13 Amd 2020 Camera
Hp Envy X360 13 Amd 2020 Camera (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Windows 11 was formally announced by Microsoft.
  • As part of the news rush, it was revealed that new Windows 11 laptops will be required to have a front webcam starting in 2023.
  • Forward-facing cameras will be mandatory, while rear-facing will be optional.
  • The requirement does not apply to desktop PCs.

In two years from now, your Windows 11-equipped laptop will have a camera on it. That's not a prediction, that's a fact — because Microsoft is demanding it (opens in new tab). As part of the rush of news surrounding its new operating system, Microsoft has declared that starting January 1, 2023, all NEW laptops running on Windows 11 will need to have a front-facing camera.

For those concerned with privacy, this means a trip to the office supply store to grab more tape with which to cover up the pesky little lenses. And for those who've fully immersed themselves in the world of remote work, this means an end to the days of fearing a laptop will have a bad camera, or worse, no camera.

The way this new policy influences the quality of cameras is found in Microsoft's camera requirements. Not only does the company demand that laptops have cameras, but it expects them to:

  • Have a resolution of High-Definition (HD) or better
  • Auto Exposure (AE)
  • Auto White Balance (AWB)

This means the days of sub-HD cameras are numbered. With a massive company like Microsoft demanding an end to objectively outdated and substandard cameras, it's only a matter of time before such inferior products cease to exist. On the flip side, it's also just a matter of time before privacy-minded individuals have one less source of security. In a world where every single machine has a camera, eyes will be everywhere, and all the Big Brothers of technology will be watching.

Of course, this requirement only applies to new laptops being sold by OEMs in 2023, not your existing one.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

28 Comments
  • del et ed.
  • It says in the article it doesn't apply to desktop PCs
  • Article title says laptops.
  • Microsoft cannot tell what PC you have.
    A tablet or a desktop chip can be enclosed in a laptop case and a laptop CPU can be enclosed as a set-top-box.
  • There are many other ways Windows knows if you're on a laptop vs. a desktop PC, including a switch for closing and opening the screen, non-UPS battery power, motherboard, chipset. In other words, Microsoft can tell in all normal cases if a PC is a laptop or not. I concede it's probably possible to fake out Windows if you really try, but that would not be relevant to any manufacturers.
  • He's kind of a moron (Hiswona).
  • Yeeesss gaaal! lol
  • If only that was addressed in the article.
  • It's even in the title.
  • I hope they also add a fingerprint sensor requirement, I kinda hate not having that
  • And a penis sensor
  • I would rather not. I hate that HP put a fingerprint scanner on my keyboard, taking away a useful Right-Ctrl in favor of something that gives me no benefit.
  • Ahem ahem a certain gaming PC brand. Ahem.
  • Some brands starting putting built-in camera shutters on their laptops several years ago (HP, Lenovo, ...).
  • 2023 will we be talking about windows 13
  • Maybe 5 years at least to expect W12.
  • To be fair, the 6 year timeframe for windows 10 to run its course was an anomaly, outside of XP most were approximately 3 year gaps between versions.
  • Up to the OEM to 'sell privacy' by incorporating a camera cover of some sorts.
  • Doubled up fruit ID tags are my shutter of choice. I think my surface book is sporting some Chiquita banana models as I type. If any PC OEM would like to talk about licensing my shutter design... Look me up
  • At least now OEMs can't get away with skimping on the webcam on laptop that costs over a grand. Hell, some laptops in the 200 range still ship with VGA... Lol. For those concerned about privacy.... Well, maybe y'all should learn more about computers as putting a piece tape (cutting the sticky portiob of a postit note works better) over a camera doesn't mean it's off.... Haha. You need to atleast disable it via device manager and set permissions in settings for each app.
  • The standards Microsoft listed don't guarantee you good quality. A minimum of HD is 720p.
  • Alot better than 0.3 / VGA lol...
  • This goes well with last week's article that Microsoft didn't address privacy on Windows 11!
  • TPM is also a chip for privacy. Privacy is not a single thing. Even, every standalone installer asked to proceed with 'I agree' option.
  • Is this requirement so that big brother can spy on you. See a good market in black masking tap.
  • Hopefully webcam shutters are also mandatory, if not there is always electrical tape.
  • Ha. we'll see - just like Windows Phone was going to dictate certain specs (resolution, buttons, etc), but as manufacturers got involved and started whining about the costs required, they caved and soon enough most of the original requirements became optional "features".
  • Seriously, go to hell Microsoft. Just more roadblocks for the growing handheld PC market and for privacy-concerned customers. I hope some smaller OEMs will just ignore this. There's no way they can enforce this on a technical level, it'll probably be some term and condition for OEM licensing, nothing more.