Microsoft Plans to Phase Out HDD in Favor of SSD (News)

Dave updated on Jun 13, 2022 to Knowledge Center

hdd performance in Windows 11

Microsoft Plans to Kill HDD Boot Drive?

The data storage industry analyst, Trendfocus recently disclosed that Microsoft is pushing manufacturers to drop hard drives from pre-built Windows 11 PCs and use solid-state instead. The current deadlines for this switchover are set at 2023, so it will be crucial to find out how each company plans on moving forward and ensure they have enough time before any potential issues arise.

Microsoft is taking action while SSDs are not explicitly listed in the configuration requirements for Windows 11 PCs, and OEMs have pushed back the deadline. Microsoft's latest hardware configuration requirements are for Windows 11 with 64GB or greater storage required to install Windows 11.

Hardware Requirements

To install or upgrade to Windows 11, devices must meet the following minimum hardware requirements:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC).
  • RAM: 4 gigabytes (GB) or greater.
  • Storage: 64 GB* or greater available storage is required to install Windows 11.
    • Additional storage space might be required to download updates and enable specific features.

It's unclear if Microsoft plans to adjust the minimum hardware configuration requirements for Windows 11 PCs after switching to SSDs for pre-installed systems in 2023.

1tb hdd vs 256gb ssd

As always, the issue of switching all systems to SSDs comes down to cost: replacing a 1TB HDD requires downgrading to a lower-cost 256GB SSD, which OEMs consider insufficient for most users. For lower-end machines with strict price constraints, upgrading to a 512 GB SSD would break the budget.

HDD VS SSD

With the advancement of technology, SSDs tend to replace HDDs gradually. So, what are the differences between SSD and HDD? The following comparison table allows you to distinguish between them at a glance.

Comparison SSD HDD
Capacity Smaller Larger
Price $0.10 per GB $0.04 per GB
Random Write Performance Very fast low
Write cycle SLC 100,000
MLC 10,000
Unlimited
Disk array Difficulty
Noise / Loud
Temperature low higher
Shock Resistance very well poorly
data recovery difficult easy

For more information about HDD and SSD, you can check out SSD VS HDD.

According to Tom's Hardware, Trendfocus Vice President John Chen said, "The original cut-in date based on our discussions with OEMs was to be this year, but it has been pushed out to sometime next year (the second half, I believe, but not clear on the firm date), 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".

Most PCs in developed markets have already transitioned to SSDs for boot drives, but there are exceptions. Chen notes that it is possible Microsoft could make some adjustments if they want their software and the operating system running smoothly on a different type of storage device than what's been used up until now -create a new category called 'hybrid', which combines both an HDD as well as solid-state storage system within one machine. Trendfocus says the switch could affect HDD demand next year.

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