Why it matters and doesn’t matter if Google, Microsoft or Zoom certifies your webcam

Enlarge / Logitech really wants you to know that the Brio 500 webcam works with Meet, Teams, Zoom, and Chromebooks.

Logitech made a strange announcement in January.

It proudly stated that its MX Master 3S wireless mouse, along with some of its other peripherals, was certified to work with Intel Evo laptops. (Evo laptops are Intel-certified premium ultralights that meet certain criteria, such as at least eight hours of battery life with a QHD display.) Imagine my shock when I realized I’d been using that same mouse with a Dell XPS 13 (an Evo laptop) for nearly eight months without Intel’s blessing.

Of course, even before the mouse received Intel’s approval, I had hours of trouble-free use. The same can be said of every functioning USB webcam I’ve ever connected to a computer. But that hasn’t stopped countless peripheral manufacturers from claiming their devices are certified for Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.

And while we’re at it, what’s the point of the Works With Chromebook certification program? Chromebooks are known for the simplistic ChromeOS operating system. Beyond the stated ChromeOS support, does anyone really need proof that a mouse, keyboard, or webcam will work with a $200 Chromebook?

At best, peripheral vendor certification programs only seem to provide support for something that is almost certainly a given. At worst, these programs could lead tech novices into believing that a PC accessory won’t work with their system just because a tech giant like Intel or Google hasn’t said so outright.

Do these programs have any value to tech-savvy users or IT managers, or are they all marketing programs in disguise? I spoke to Intel, Google, Microsoft, and Zoom about their peripheral certification processes to find out.

Most companies have specific, relevant requirements for their PC accessory certification programs, but the majority do not disclose this information to the general public. But you might be pleasantly surprised by the kind of testing that some of these programs pass on PC peripherals. No, you don’t need Intel to tell you that a mouse will work with an expensive laptop using one of its processors, but the Evo Stamp requires the inclusion of features that might be useful, such as a confirmed Bluetooth range of at least 32.8 feet – and it can deliver an elevated experience beyond basic compatibility.

However, companies are relatively closed on these requirements. Not only does this make the stamps seem like redundant marketing gimmicks, it also diminishes the value they can offer to tech-savvy consumers.

Other verifications with validity

PC peripheral certification programs have been around forever. When a certification requires a product to meet rigorous standards designed around real potential use cases, it provides clear value. A well-planned verification scheme can help end users and even IT teams identify products for niche or power users, create a baseline for testing, and draw attention to critical specifications and features.

Standards or certification programs created as a collaborative effort between various industry experts and companies, such as VESA’s DisplayHDR or ClearMR monitor certifications, the USB Implementers Forum’s (USB-IFs) USB standards, or the Peripheral Component Interconnect Special Interest Group’s PCIe standards, detail options and performance that would otherwise not be self-evident.

But unlike industry standards, the programs we’ll be discussing — those from Google, Microsoft, Intel, and Zoom — are each managed by a single technology company and emphasize a peripheral’s compatibility with one of the company’s specific platforms.

These programs may be reminiscent of Apple’s MFi program, but that certification does not focus on computer peripherals. Apple products also have a history of not playing well with other third-party products, so there’s a more obvious need for the MFi program, even if that need is self-inflicted.

Leave a Comment