Microsoft is going to make an SSD a mandatory requirement for new PCs preinstalled with Windows 11. Currently, the hardware requirements of this system only talk about the size of the drive, but not about its type. The changes may come into effect in 2023.
Microsoft fell out of love with hard drives
Microsoft has begun recommending that manufacturers of computers and laptops preinstalled with Windows 11 stop packing them with classic hard drives. According to TrendFocus, an analytics company, it suggests using more modern solid-state drives instead of HDDs.
At the same time, if at present the complete rejection of HDDs in user PCs and laptops is just a recommendation, then very soon this will become a full-fledged requirement. According to TrendFocus, computer manufacturers will have to stop producing models with hard drives from 2023.
Microsoft may put an end to the years-long confrontation between SSD and HDD
All this applies only to computers running Windows 11. In PCs supplied with any other OS, for example, with Linux, or without it at all, manufacturers will be able to continue to install conventional hard drives.
Microsoft’s new requirement may lead to a collapse in sales of hard drives, which are already going through hard times. In the first quarter of 2021, 64.17 million HDDs were sold in the world, while in the third quarter of 2019 this figure was at the level of 83 million, and a year earlier it was within 100 million (data from Stastista.com). Windows 11 is the only Microsoft operating system currently installed on new PCs, and the corporation is doing everything to promote it. The OC Windows series itself is the most popular in the world.
There are prerequisites
The system requirements for Windows 11, which were deemed too high, at the time of publication of the material did not indicate the type of drive on which this system will be installed. They only say that it must intervene at least 64 GB of information, that is, an ancient 80-gigabyte HDD is quite suitable for Windows 11.
Basic system requirements for Windows 11
Meanwhile, according to Tom’s Hardware experts, Microsoft has at least two reasons to lobby for a complete rejection of hard drives in new Windows 11 PCs and laptops.
The first reason is called DirectStorage. This is a data loading acceleration mechanism for Windows 10 and Windows 11. In particular, it allows the graphics card to load data directly from the SSD, bypassing the processor. In theory, this gives a significant increase in PC performance, provided that they have a high-speed SSD installed on them.
The second reason is the Windows Subsystem for Android, which Microsoft has been actively promoting since the announcement of Windows 11 at the end of June 2021. Neither it nor DirectStorage work on regular hard drives.
Users benefit, but only partially.
A PC with a solid state drive, even a very old one, will be 99% faster than a similar configuration, but with a hard drive. Thus, if the Microsoft requirement comes into force, then buyers of computers and laptops with Windows 11 will not have to endure the slow operation of the OS and long waits for programs to load.
Also on the SSD side is a much higher level of reliability. For example, if you drop a hard drive, then with almost 100 percent probability you can say goodbye to the information inside it. Many SSDs don’t mind bumps and drops.
Buying an SSD at the price of a 1 TB hard drive, the user gets half the capacity, but a faster drive
HDDs have only one competitive advantage in 2022 – larger capacity than SSDs at relatively the same cost. TrendFocus estimates that, on average, a 1TB hard drive is comparable in cost to a 256GB SSD.
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In Russian retail, this is not always the case. As of June 9, 2022, 1-terabyte HDDs in Russia cost on a par with 512 GB SSDs.
According to Tom’s Hardware, PC makers are currently trying to negotiate with Microsoft to shift the requirement to install Windows 11 only on SSDs a year ahead, i.e. 2024. They argue that in emerging markets, PCs with hard drives are still are in demand, despite their slowness.
Hard drives are rapidly losing ground
According to analysts, TrendFocus, if vendors fail to negotiate with Microsoft. the new requirement will come into force in the second half of 2023. It is not yet clear whether the software corporation is going to impose sanctions against companies that dare to go against its will – Microsoft is in no hurry to comment.
As a result, the only option to buy a PC based on Windows 11 with a hard drive inside will soon be configurations with two storage media – an SSD as a system drive and a hard drive for storing files. Also, users in most cases will be able to install the hard drive themselves. With desktop PCs, this procedure is as simple as possible, and in the case of laptops, you will need to make sure in advance that the model of interest has a seat for a 2.5-inch drive with a SATA interface.