Microsoft Might Replace HDD Boot Drives With SSDs On Windows 11: Report

Microsoft is pushing original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to replace HDDs as the primary storage device with SSDs in pre-built Windows 11 PCs by 2023, according to a report from a data storage market research and consulting firm, Trendfocus via Tom’s Hardware.

For the unversed, a hard disk drive (HDD) is an electromechanical data storage device that stores and retrieves digital data using magnetic storage, while a solid-state drive (SSD) is a storage device that typically uses flash memory to store data.

John Chen, CEO of Trendfocus, claims that Microsoft had originally planned to make SSD mandatory for Windows boot drives in 2022, but the deadlines were pushed back to 2023-24 due to resistance from OEMs.

“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,” Chen said in a statement to Tom’s Hardware.

If the report turns out to be true, then the system requirements for Windows 11 will be updated to require an SSD for the primary boot drive. Currently, below are the minimum hardware requirements that the devices must meet to install or upgrade to Windows 11:

  • CPU:1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC).
  • RAM: 4GB (gigabytes) or more
  • Storage:64GB or larger
  • System Firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable
  • TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
  • GPU: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver.
  • Display: High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per color channel

Besides the above, an internet connection and a Microsoft account are required as well. However, there are two features, DirectStorage and the Windows Subsystem for Android in Windows 11 that do require an SSD, but you don’t have to use those features as they are optional.

The transition from HDDs to SSDs is a good move, as it can make for a better end-user experience such as Windows PC will be faster, snappier, and more responsive. However, the price still remains a point of concern.

According to Chen, the cost of replacing a 1TB hard drive is equivalent to the price of a low-cost 256GB SSD, which is 4 times less storage space. Also, switching to a 512GB SSD will increase the price for lower-end machines that it will make it unreasonably expensive for many users.

It is unclear whether Microsoft would make the requirement of SSDs mandatory for all laptops. It is also unknown what measures the Redmond giant plans to take against OEMs who explicitly refuse to switch to SSDs. When Tom’s Hardware tried to contact Microsoft to comment on the matter,  it responded by saying it “has nothing to share on this topic at this time.”