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When Windows 11 was first announced, many people were taken aback by the strict system requirements for the OS, as processors from AMD and Intel, which were only a couple of generations old, were suddenly unsupported.
But with hard drives, everything turned out to be not so strict, although it is in this aspect that the tightening of system requirements is long overdue. Windows 11 requires 64 GB of storage on the drive, and the type or interface for data storage is not specified. This means that you can use normal hard disk drives (HDDs) as boot disks, or perhaps something even slower. Windows 11 22H2 Preview has the same system requirements, although a bug accidentally made the update available on unsupported devices.
However, it looks like Microsoft’s storage policy may change in time for next year’s 23H2 Sun Valley 3 (SV3) or Windows 11 24H2 (SV4) release. Microsoft is expected to make it mandatory to have a fast NAND-based solid-state drive (SSD) for the system boot drive.
In a recent interview Tom’s Hardware John Chen, CEO of storage research firm TRENDFOCUS, said behind the scenes Microsoft is pressuring OEMs and vendors to make sure that an SSD is used as the system boot drive. Chen added that initially they wanted to start phasing out the HDD this year, but in the end the deadline was shifted to 2023-24. The fact is that SSDs are still more expensive than conventional HDDs, so from a financial point of view, HDDs are still preferable in budget PCs due to their higher capacity and lower price.
The transition was originally scheduled to begin this year, however the date has been pushed back to next year (I believe the second half, but no exact date has been set). OEMs are trying to negotiate a postponement (in emerging markets to 2024 or desktops to 2024), but the situation is still unclear.
While an SSD is not yet included in the general system requirements for Windows 11, Microsoft has already made it mandatory for some features, such as running Android apps.