Microsoft wants Windows to boot only on SSDs, reportedly pushing OEMs to get rid of HDD boot drives by 2023
Microsoft may soon make solid state drives (SSDs) mandatory for booting into Windows. The company is reportedly trying to get OEMs to ensure that the boot drive is always an SSD and not an hard disk drive (HDD) and has reportedly set a 2023 deadline.
Tom's Hardware reports of an executive brief to that effect via analyst firm Trendfocus. OEMs have apparently disclosed to Trendfocus the aforementioned plans coming from Redmond. Microsoft hasn't set any specific SSD requirement that OEMs would have to cater to.
Currently, the minimum storage space needed to install Windows 11 is 64 GB and that can be done on any drive. Only optional features such as DirectStorage and Windows Subsystem for Android mandate using an SSD. It is also not clear whether this change would only affect pre-built OEM systems or DIY installations as well.
The move does make sense from a performance standpoint, though. Even a SATA SSD offers a huge performance boost over conventional HDDs. Most modern laptops across a variety of price points come with at least one SSD built-in, which is often a fast NVMe PCIe drive as the boot drive. Many also offer the ability to configure a SATA HDD or SSD for bulk storage or at least provide a free 2.5-inch drive bay.
According to Trendfocus VP John Chen, OEMs do not want to usher the change just yet and are apparently looking to push the transition to 2024. "OEMs are trying to negotiate some level of push out (emerging market transition in 2024, or desktop transition in 2024), but things are still in flux." he said.
This is understandable given that a 1 TB HDD translates to just a low-cost 256 GB SSD for an equivalent price, and users will likely run out of storage soon. Starting with a 512 GB SSD, on the other hand, can work against strict budget constraints with lower-end devices in emerging markets.
However, Chen does feel that Microsoft could make some exceptions eventually and that HDDs are likely to be relegated only to dual-drive desktops and laptops in the mass market. It remains to be seen how Microsoft would go about enforcing this switchover and how this would impact both SSD and HDD pricing.