A recent bulletin from Trendfocus, a data storage analyst, says Microsoft is urging OEM manufacturers to abandon hard drives (HDDs) as their primary storage device on Windows 11 computers and use SSDs instead, with the current deadline for 2023. Interestingly, these actions from Microsoft are carried out without any specific requirements for SSDs specified for computers with Windows 11, and OEMs are still trying to postpone the transition date.
The latest list of hardware requirements requires a “64 GB or more memory device” for Windows 11, so SSDs are not a minimum requirement for a standard installation. However, Microsoft notes that the two features, DirectStorage and Windows for Android, require an SSD, but the user does not have to use them. It is unclear whether Microsoft plans to change the minimum specifications for Windows 11 PCs after the transition in 2023 to SSDs for pre-built systems.
Forcing OEM manufacturers to use SSDs instead of Windows hard drives makes a lot of sense in terms of performance. Many laptops and desktops already come with an SSD for the boot disk, and some use an optional hard drive to store large files such as photos and videos. However, some lower-end models, especially in emerging markets, still often use the HDD as a boot disk for Windows.
“Initially, Microsoft expected to make the transition from HDD to SSD as early as this year. At least that’s what the OEMs say. However, in the end, the implementation of this plan was pushed back to the next year. Most likely the other half,” said Trendfocus Vice President John Chen. “The OEMs are negotiating with the company about possible exceptions. Discussions are underway to delay the transition to SSD in the desktop or emerging markets until 2024. In general, everything can still change.”
Most computers in advanced markets already use SSDs as their primary drive for Windows. Microsoft may make some exceptions for OEMs, but predicts that desktops and gaming laptops will remain the only computers on the mass market in the future that will continue to use HDDs along with SSDs.
It is unclear what measures Microsoft, if any, will take against OEMs if they fail to do so. In any case, Trendfocus says that the transition will affect the demand for hard drives from next year.