Microsoft may transition HDD Windows 11 install to SSD in off-the-shelf PCs from 2023

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India, portal publishing news and current affairs. He holds an M.B.A in International Business from the Maharishi University of Management, Iowa, USA. Twitter: @chackojoseph *views are Personal.

Microsoft is urging PC and laptop OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to phase out conventional hard drives (HDD) as the primary boot media for Windows 11 next year and instead use the solid-state drives. This was revealed by analysts from Trendfocus, referring to PC manufacturers.

Tom’s Hardware Portal reached out to Microsoft for a comment, but the company replied that they had nothing to say yet on this issue. The system requirements for the Windows 11 operating system do not indicate the need to use an SSD. Instead, Microsoft simply states the need for media with 64 GB or more of free space to install and use Windows 11. At the same time, an SSD is required to use DirectStorage Fast Boot technology and the Windows subsystem that runs the Android applications on the OS. It’s not clear if Microsoft plans to change the system requirements for Windows 11 after 2023 officially and if it’s going to specify in them to make the SSD mandatory.

However, the transition to SSD is quite logical in the future. Unlike conventional HDD, these drives do not create noise and operate much faster. But, even though the prices of SDD declined in recent years, even the most affordable SDD models cost more than HDD models with similar capacity. If one compares SSD and HDD with a capacity of say 1 TB, a gigabyte of memory of an HDD costs about $ 0.05, while the SSD media with a SATA III interface costs $ 0.08. An M.2 NVMe format drive costs $ 0.14. So 1TB HDD costs $45, a SATA III SSD $75, and an M.2 NVMe SSD $150.

Most PC and laptop manufacturers have already equipped their systems with SSD without any insistence from Microsoft. But, there are exceptions. In emerging markets, where the bulk of the sales is in low- and mid-ranges, computers are often equipped with HDD to reduce their cost.

According to Trendfocus vice president John Chen, 1 TB HDD will have to be replaced with an SSD with a capacity of only 256 GB. So the transition to a 512 GB solid-state drive would lead to an increase in the cost of the entire system. A lot of buyers who want more persistent memory may not agree with the compromise.

As per Chen, Microsoft is expected to enable the transition from HDD to SSD in 2022 itself. “At least that’s what the OEMs say,” he says. But the, the plan was pushed back to 2023 and most likely the second half of 2023. The OEMs are negotiating with the company about possible exceptions. “For example, discussions are underway to delay the transition to SSD in the desktop or emerging markets until 2024. In general, everything can still change,” says Chen.

It is not yet clear what action Microsoft plans to take against those PC and laptop OEMs that refuse to follow its new guidelines. As per Trendfocus, the change in media type will hit the demand for hard drives next year anyway.

HDD to SSD

Most modern laptops and those released years ago use only two moving parts: the cooling fan and the hard disk drive (HDD). The principle of operation of the HDD is similar to a record player: a vinyl disc is rotated by a motor at a speed of 45 revolutions per minute, and a magnetic head reads sound from the track. The hard drive motor rotates more than 1000 times faster: from 5400 to 7200 rpm, but nevertheless, writing and reading are performed sequentially because the magnetic head cannot be in two places at the same time.

Why change HDD to SSD

In their best years, hard drives offered high performance at a low price, but technology does not stand still: every year, a new generation of processors appears, the amount and speed of RAM increases and video cards become more powerful. In the context of constant growth in the performance of components, hard drives have reached their limit: only the amount of stored information is increasing. When your laptop freezes, know that the reason for this in 99% of cases is the insufficient speed of the hard drive.

What is the essence of SSD

A logical question arises, what to do with it? The answer is simple; you need to replace the HDD with an SSD. In this case, the slow hard drive is replaced with a super-fast SSD. An SSD does not have mechanical parts in its design and is a printed circuit board with a chipset: a controller (responsible for data transfer), cache memory (used to speed up writing/reading files), and directly memory chips (in which information is stored). By themselves, memory chips operate at a fairly high speed, and since there can be 2, 4, 6, 8 or more, the speed increases by a multiple.

Benefits of moving to an SSD

In addition to increasing the speed of information exchange, SSD has a lot of undeniable advantages. A solid-state drive consumes much less energy and, therefore, increases the autonomy of the device. The SSD drive is not susceptible to bumps and falls (within reason), unlike a fragile HDD. Solid-state drives are completely silent and do not generate heat. There are significant performance gains, which means that your laptop experience will be divided into two stages: before you install the SSD and after. Booting the system after turning it on in 10 seconds will become a reality.

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