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Microsoft wants to ban hard drives as Windows boot drives

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Microsoft would be meditating a “embargo“towards the hard diskor rather towards the used mechanical discs as a boot drive from Windows 11 on notebooks and OEM desktop PCs. Talking about the alleged stake that the Redmond house would like to impose on OEM during 2023 is Trendfocus, a storage market analysis company.

According to what was revealed by John Chen, Vice President of Trendfocus to Tom’s Hardware USA, “the original date of the cutbased on our discussions with OEMs, it was supposed to be this year but it was postponed to next year (the second half, I think, but the final date is not clear). OEMs are looking to negotiate for a move with softer timings (emerging market transition in 2024 or desktop transition in 2024), but things still are Evolving“.

At the moment, neither a denial nor a confirmation has come from the Redmond house. “We have nothing to share“is the response received from Tom’s Hardware USA on the subject, which leaves open interpretations in one direction or another.

Windows 11 hasn’t undergone any changes in terms of minimum system requirements since launch, so it simply requires 64GB or more storage, be it a hard drive, SATA SSD, or NVMe. The performance guaranteed by M.2 SSDs, especially the NVMe ones with PCIe 3.0 / 4.0 interface, make notebooks and desktops much more responsive and faster, not only in productivity but also in the use of the new operating system features. Also on the way are technologies like the DirectStorage API that rely heavily on the use of a high-speed SSD.

It is therefore not absurd to think that, sooner or later, Microsoft will decide to impose SSDs as a mandatory boot drive. Indeed, the fact that the company is trying to pass its line with OEM manufacturers without forcing is a good thing, even if the concerns of the partners are well founded: In emerging and developing markets, the lower cost of hard drives is something that cannot be denied and helps OEMs to offer low-cost (and good-sized GB) systems to their customers. Sure, there would be the “double disc” option, but it would drive prices up.

The issue is not whether or not the transition to SSDs is sensible from a performance point of view, it undoubtedly is, but it’s all about prices and profit margins. Replacing a 1TB HDD to an SSD would require upgrading to a 256GB drive, which OEMs find too small for most users. Switching to 512GB SSDs, on the other hand, would drive up the prices of low-cost systems and could hurt profit margins. The price per gigabyte sees hard drives still ahead, although SSDs have made huge strides.

Thanos would say that SSDs as a boot drive are “inescapable”, and we agree with the villain of Marvel, it remains to be understood how Microsoft will choose to implement the change, whether by forcing it to some extent or by letting the market naturally enter what is already a widespread trend, apart from exceptions.

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