Microsoft calls on OEMs to kill off HDD boot drives by next year

midian182

Posts: 8,152   +97
Staff member
Forward-looking: Do you still use an HDD as the primary boot drive for your PC? While there are some exceptions, most people today prefer a much speedier SSD for booting into the OS, which could be a good thing as Microsoft reportedly wants to kill off HDD boot drives entirely.

According to a report from analytics company Trendfocus (via Tom's Hardware), Microsoft is pushing those OEMs who use HDDs as the primary storage device in pre-built Windows 11 PCs to switch to SSDs. It's even set a deadline for when it wants the transition to take place: 2023.

Exactly why Microsoft is doing this isn't clear. As Tom's notes, there's no minimum requirement for an SSD in Windows 11, only that the PC running the operating system has a 64 GB or larger storage device. However, this could change next year when the switchover deadline arrives.

It might be that Microsoft simply wants to move to SSD boot drives so PCs get the best performance from Windows 11. There are also those optional Windows 11 features that do require solid-state drives, such as the DirectStorage API. This creates a more efficient link between NVMe SSDs (both PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0) and the GPU, allowing games direct access to resources on the storage drive.

While we can all appreciate a much faster boot drive, making an SSD the primary storage device in a PC will impact the budget and developing markets. Although often minor, the associated cost of adding an SSD could push the price too high for some manufacturers and consumers.

There are a few cheaper gaming desktops on Newegg, such as this one, that offer only an HDD for storage, though it's difficult to find one that comes with Windows 11 as standard.

Trendfocus Vice President John Chen says that OEMs are trying to push Microsoft's deadline back to 2024, at least when it comes to desktops and emerging markets. But it seems that we're heading for a future where the only time you'll see an HDD in a pre-built Windows 11 PC is when it sits alongside an SSD.

Permalink to story.

 

dangh

Posts: 679   +1,071
Wow, this time title is waaay off.
I was wondering if MS is pushing for HDD producers to disable booting capabilities.
All emerging markets which complain about the price of an ssd should probably complain about price of Windows in the first place and use free alternatives.
As long as this wont affect other OS's then I see nothing wrong with asking companies selling prebuild w11 systems to use ssd as boot drive.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,601   +2,563
I've had an SSD boot drive since the Crucial C300. I figured we all had SSD boot drives already, but good on MS for giving OEMs a nudge.
 

Achaios

Posts: 389   +1,079
Had a look at a major online retailer and the cheapest SSD they offer is "GoodRAM CL100 gen.3 SSD 120GB 2.5'' SATA III" for 14.70.

Now given that Greece is one of the most expensive countries in the EU, even more expensive than countries like Germany and the Netherlands b/c we have got 25% VAT while all the others implement less VAT than we do, and given that goods in the EU are already like 1/3 more expensive in the Eurozone than the USA, I am sure pretty much any1 can buy the above for like $10 or so abroad.

If paying $10 for a boot SSD will "throw you off budget" then chances are that you have got such big problems in your life already that buying and building a PC are nowhere near even your backburner, much less your priorities.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,626   +5,591
I have a literal pile of 120-240gb SSDs, there is no reason for us to use HDDs as boot drives anymore with how cheap they've gotten. 120gig boot drive and 1TB ofnHDD storage should be a minimum for OEMs
 

rmcrys

Posts: 248   +206
Wow, this time title is waaay off.
[...] should probably complain about price of Windows in the first place and use free alternatives.

I never paid for windows (unless I wanted to upgrade from home to pro) and whenever I asked for a PC without it, there was no discount. The price would be the same with our without windows. And I had MANY PCs in my life... if you have a 128 GB SSD SATA to boot (second hand as new, almost as expensive as a pen drive...) and a 5 tb 2.5" hdd for the rest you'll be fine.


If paying $10 for a boot SSD will "throw you off budget" then chances are that you have got such big problems in your life already

Exactly! Apple, AMD, Intel and others push tech forward, so does MS.

I even don't know any present brand that sells new devices (at least after 2021...) with an hdd as boot drive. The cheapest ones offer an eMMC "SSD" or SATA SSDs. Even my Surface Go 1 (already sold) with eMMC 64 GB was MUCH faster than any hdd I had. I have now a Surface Go 2 with an nvme SSD and I notice almost no difference to the eMMC one (mostly on benchmarks or huge updates).

They should try to build 5 TB SSDs with eMMC or slow QLC to replace hdds. I only have hdds on my NAS because € / TB is (much) better.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,220   +4,272
I know people will just say this is a good thing but I should remind everybody that a software maker, even if they make the OS, should not dictate hardware use for it's users.

In other words I had a suspicion that their stubborn insistence on TPM 2.0 requirement and arbitrary cut off points for CPUs that could support TPM 2.0 with a header for no good reason was an attempt at basically helping out the hardware manufacturer partners Microsoft has but this bit of news? This is all but confirmation that is the case.

If you think about your home computer you might assume "Boot takes too long on mechanical drives" and think there's no downside. However you also gotta think about the millions of systems out there in the enterprise world, specially on small to medium businesses in poor countries that can and will take any cost saving measure they can while purchasing new hardware and this almost screams at me of the big 3 office hardware manufacturers (Lenovo, Dell and HP) wanting to get better sale numbers for SSDs on some of these markets and just submitting a request with a white paper that's probably easy to justify is enough to get Microsoft to scratch their back and plan out this move.

Sorry to say but as outdated as it might seem to you, I don't think Microsoft should get to decided what's a valid boot hard drive it seems like they're reaching far out of their realm.
 
Last edited:

dangh

Posts: 679   +1,071
I never paid for windows (unless I wanted to upgrade from home to pro) and whenever I asked for a PC without it, there was no discount. The price would be the same with our without windows.
Obviously, why a dealer would go through the trouble and separate an integrated product? Or maybe you do think that MS do not get paid for every Windows licence attached to a PC / laptop you are buying? :)

You maybe do not realize, but to be a MS partner and get benefits companies can't sell bare machines, or can't install Linux for free (because there is MS owned UEFI)

So yeah... you have always paid for Windows, and no large distributors will separately remove the licence from the device (thay are coming integrated from the factory anyway).
 

DZillaXx

Posts: 535   +683
It is a shame HDD as a boot volume is even an option. Dell still has some options that use HDD as boot drive. Devices with HDD as boot drives have faded away mostly over last 1-2 years. Before that you had to make sure the Reps we not screwing you over on machine orders.
 

defaultluser

Posts: 477   +366
I've been following this mantra ever since Windows 7 shipped with TRIM.

Fifteen years later, the cost is finally low enough that OEMs save money swapping a 256GB ssd for a 5200 RPM HDD ( and entry-level users have finally come to terms with how little local storage they actually use on these 1TB drives)
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,090   +8,127
That is well and good as long as they can provide an equivalent with the same volume at the same price. Until then they need to shut up and put their efforts to a solution rather than just stir the waters. No doubt they are going to recommend a web-based solution that makes us all depend upon them and forget any form of privacy, not to mention the heyday law enforcement will have looking for any infraction or just snooping.

I remember a time when we called this sort of thing Communism ......
 

Watzupken

Posts: 671   +544
I don’t know if anyone tried running Windows 10 on a mechanical drive lately. If you did, you probably thought the PC is broken. There are so many tasks hammering the drive when starting up that even a fresh install took ages to boot to a state that you can actually use the machine. There is no wonder they want to stop using mechanical drives as boot disks. Windows 11 is likely worst than Windows 10.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,220   +4,272
That is well and good as long as they can provide an equivalent with the same volume at the same price. Until then they need to shut up and put their efforts to a solution rather than just stir the waters. No doubt they are going to recommend a web-based solution that makes us all depend upon them and forget any form of privacy, not to mention the heyday law enforcement will have looking for any infraction or just snooping.
While for consumers it´s not really feasible I think it a thin client network boot that just connects to a cloud instance is already viable and probably within the realm of what they already offer with Azure and would just require a bit more work to have a central server on an office that can create a minimal network boot instance that immediately connects to VPN/Internet and into the cloud VM so I agree that the building blocks are there.

I remember a time when we called this sort of thing Communism ......

The correct term is State Capitalism which is what you should think of when thinking about the former U.S.S.R. or the last several decades of China. The distinction is important because actual communism means that there wouldn't be a State whatsoever to well, State Control all citizens through draconian forces, formerly bureaucratic and now digital in nature.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 521   +599
Whenever I see people talking about SSD boot times like it's a huge deal, I feel like I'm back in the 1990s. Back then it was usual to reboot PCs several times a day - either because of Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 frequent crashes, and also because many home users had an habit of only keeping the PC turned on when they were sitting in front of their desks using it (there was no suspend or sleep modes back then). So I can understand how faster boot times could be a big deal back then. Most home users and all businesses today just boot their PCs once at the start of a day and leave it on for the entire day without shutting down or rebooting, so I don't really get why saving at most a couple of minutes per day is so important for some people. (of course I'm only talking about boot times here, not accounting for the other performance benefits of using a SSD)

I know people will just say this is a good think but I should remind everybody that a software maker, even if they make the OS, should not dictate hardware use for it's users.

This. I haven't used HDDs as boot drives for many years, but lots of businesses and poor people are still using them, and I see no proper technical reason that HDDs might be holding Windows back for Microsoft to go out of their way to remove that option.

Outside of your NATO bubbles, there are many countries in the world where SSDs over 128GB capacities remain prohibitively expensive for most people and small businesses.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,961   +7,006
Good. And I'm surprised MS didn't try pushing sooner, considering how bad an HDD will make Windows look (especially to non-techies who won't know the difference).
That's just it. Non-techies will never know the difference likely because they are unlikely to get a pre-built PC with an SSD as a boot hard drive, nor are they likely to know that they can get an SSD boot hard drive in the pre-built PC.

IMO, what is probably going on is that boot times have gotten slower and slower over the years. I have an old PC with a dual-core operon 1220 running XP that boots faster than my Xeon 1650V2 PC running Windows 10 (both PCs have SATA SSDs). Its likely that MS is aware of issues like this, and just wants it to appear that Windows is loading faster, when the reality, IMO, is that its MS' Windohs bloat and crapware that is the problem.

I also built my wife a PC last year with an Ryzen 7 3800 on an X570 board using a Sabrent 1TB NVME PCI-e 4.0 drive that cold boots Win 10 in about 4-seconds. I bet that no SATA SSD can match this. So the performance difference, IMO, is night and day even with all the MS bloatware and crapware.

Rather than MS giving up their addiction to bloatware and crapware, they decided that its better to push hardware even further than their ridiculous TPM/CPU requirements for Windohs 11.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,232   +279
Should've made the decision sooner... I mean, think about it... they asked for TPM in Windows 11 already, should've asked for SSD as well last year. in fact they should've started the leaks with SSD requirement first to get people excited and slammed the door with the TPM requirement. probably would've made better PR than today.
 

Fastturtle

Posts: 83   +44
Everyone beefing about how long even Win10 on an HDD takes to boot are full of lint though I agree, it takes too damn long but I only reboot once a month when all the patches come out and that's overnight while I'm asleep. Otherwise, I use Sleep to power the system down as the power consumption isn't any higher then when it's off due to USB 3.0 remaining powered so the longest it takes for my system to be ready to use is how long the monitor takes to finish waking up.

As someone else posted, MS shouldn't be telling OEM's what to include in hardware such as an SSD. They can tell them that if you don't have things like TPM 2.0/Secure Boot, we wont allow you to sell new Windows Machines and that's within their contract terms but telling them to switch to an SSD? No because they just lost a whole bunch of Windows Licensing Fees from all of the businesses that can't afford them (many in low income countries) that will move to FOSS options such as FreeBSD or Linux and in my case, as a paid consultant, I actually recomend more usage of FOSS then I do Proprietary due to costs. Yes there's a learning curve but a good Tech can handle hardware issues while Support Rates for Qualified FOSS support companies aren't any higher then Dell and HP.
 

BadThad

Posts: 1,141   +1,341
About time, instead MS crams TPM down our throats. The OS on the SSD is the BEST reason to even have an SSD - it literally makes EVERYTHING faster.
 

BadThad

Posts: 1,141   +1,341
Whenever I see people talking about SSD boot times like it's a huge deal, I feel like I'm back in the 1990s. Back then it was usual to reboot PCs several times a day - either because of Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 frequent crashes, and also because many home users had an habit of only keeping the PC turned on when they were sitting in front of their desks using it (there was no suspend or sleep modes back then). So I can understand how faster boot times could be a big deal back then. Most home users and all businesses today just boot their PCs once at the start of a day and leave it on for the entire day without shutting down or rebooting, so I don't really get why saving at most a couple of minutes per day is so important for some people. (of course I'm only talking about boot times here, not accounting for the other performance benefits of using a SSD)



This. I haven't used HDDs as boot drives for many years, but lots of businesses and poor people are still using them, and I see no proper technical reason that HDDs might be holding Windows back for Microsoft to go out of their way to remove that option.

Outside of your NATO bubbles, there are many countries in the world where SSDs over 128GB capacities remain prohibitively expensive for most people and small businesses.

It not just all about boot times, Windows is just WAY better across the board with ANY SSD. Everything performs better with solid state.
 

hwertz

Posts: 174   +100
Dumb.
SSDs are very overpriced per GB of storage, and if you are going to want a large amount of storage in your system anyway, it's entirely sensible to just not bother with the SSD and have a nice large HDD instead. I do have an SSD in my notebook (smallest I could get) + HDD for primary storage, simply because I could find very few HDD-only systems and none with the other specs I wanted. Most systems already ship with an SSD, but if someone either wants a large amount of storage, or they want a low-cost system but with like 500GB of storage instead of 64GB, what business is it of Microsoft to tell them "no?"

Helpfully, most Linux distros (including Ubuntu that I'm using..) have 0 problems having / and /home on different drives, I have a secondary system right now with one of those 24GB eMMC things as / (not as fast as a true SSD but still no slouch), but /home on the 750GB HDD. So I don't have to tell software to save somewhere else or anything since my home directory is already on the hard drive.

(Disclaimer, I run Linux so if Microsoft decides to do whatever it really doesn't affect me.)
 

hwertz

Posts: 174   +100
Had a look at a major online retailer and the cheapest SSD they offer is "GoodRAM CL100 gen.3 SSD 120GB 2.5'' SATA III" for 14.70.

Now given that Greece is one of the most expensive countries in the EU, even more expensive than countries like Germany and the Netherlands b/c we have got 25% VAT while all the others implement less VAT than we do, and given that goods in the EU are already like 1/3 more expensive in the Eurozone than the USA, I am sure pretty much any1 can buy the above for like $10 or so abroad.

If paying $10 for a boot SSD will "throw you off budget" then chances are that you have got such big problems in your life already that buying and building a PC are nowhere near even your backburner, much less your priorities.
A) I got a few 120GB SSDs in the past, they are GARBAGE. The performance was poor (they are "cacheless" so write speeds go to hell) and I managed to blow out both of them by exceeding the write endurance rating within a matter of months.

B) That's still taking up space I could put a multi-TB HDD into instead. I can get a 2TB HDD for under $50, so why would I want to spend $15 on 120GB at that point?

IMO, what is probably going on is that boot times have gotten slower and slower over the years. I have an old PC with a dual-core operon 1220 running XP that boots faster than my Xeon 1650V2 PC running Windows 10 (both PCs have SATA SSDs). Its likely that MS is aware of issues like this, and just wants it to appear that Windows is loading faster, when the reality, IMO, is that its MS' Windohs bloat and crapware that is the problem.
Ahh Windows. Linux has actually sped up the boot time in recent versions. Of course booting off SSD in under 10 seconds still kicks the crap out of the hard drive boot time.