You must run Windows 11 on an SSD whether Microsoft requires it or not

A report from a storage analyst firm trend focus (opens in new tab) (through Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab)) claims that Microsoft is telling original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to ditch hard drives in favor of SSDs by 2023 for new machines running Windows. The reasoning is pretty straightforward: to provide a better end-user experience, something many of us are aware of. Still, there was something of a throwback to the idea.

You might not think that change is such a big issue, but as always it’s about money. Switching usually means dropping from a 1TB HDD to a 256GB SSD in the more budget-focused lines. This is something that manufacturers, particularly in developing countries, are loathe to do. Capacity still trumps performance for many users, it seems.

If you built a machine yourself, it would cost you around $40 for a 1TB HDD. That kind of money tends to get you a 512GB SSD, although there are budget NVMe drives available for that kind of money, like the Silicon Power Gen 3 SSD for $43 (opens in new tab). Switch to a 1TB SATA SSD and you’ll enjoy faster transfers and a much better Windows experience, but you’re trying to double your storage budget.

It’s worth noting that nothing has changed when it comes to officially recommended specs for windows 11 (opens in new tab). Microsoft requests the following, as a minimum:

Processor 1 GHz or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
HIT 4GB
Store 64GB or larger storage device

There are additional feature specific requirements (opens in new tab) for Windows 11, including:

direct storage Requires an NVMe SSD to store and run games that use the Standard NVM Express Controller driver and a DirectX12 GPU supporting Shader Model 6.0

But this is optional, so it’s not part of the main spec. We’re also awaiting throughput requirements for DirectStorage, so it doesn’t look like Microsoft is in a rush to raise the requirements. I mean, it would be nice to let people know if they will need a PCIe 4.0 SSD capable of 5GB/s for optimal performance, or if a PCIe 3.0 drive will work fine.

It would be better for everyone’s user experience if Microsoft simply said that you need an SSD as part of the requirements. I mean, we as gamers already know this, but there are a lot of people out there who are clearly still using Windows on a hard drive. Poor people.

At least this latest move should mean OEMs will make the switch at some point. Even if that means running with a tiny boot SSD paired with a more spacious hard drive. Baby steps, people.

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