Microsoft wants Windows 10 to fit in a tiny footprint- Here’s how

Microsoft begins compressing system files while getting rid of the Windows recovery partition to save space.

Windows has long been known for its bloated footprint which takes up gigabytes upon gigabytes of space on your hard drive. With storage getting cheaper and bigger by the second, this may not seem like a problem, but with smaller devices, like tablets and ultra thin laptops, it can still bothersome to have to give up so much space to Windows. Many new low end and ultra portable Windows laptops and tablets are being sold with sometimes a mere 16 GB of space. Windows in its current state can eat up all of this space quite easily.

Microsoft wants to change this with Windows 10 by finding ways of compressing data and getting rid of unneeded system partitions. Their new operating system will feature two primary ways of decreasing its size: compressing system files, and ditching the recovery image.

Compression of system files has already been implemented in the latest build of Windows 10, and has been shown to decrease the size of system files by 1.5 GB for 32 bit builds to 2.6 GB for 64 bit computers.

The system recovery image is basically a duplicate copy of Windows that manufacturers put on your computer which can be used to reinstall Windows should anything go haywire. Microsoft’s new “Refresh and Reset” feature, which brings Windows back to its factory defaults, doesn’t require the recovery partition to function. Since this partition is basically a completely separate instance of Windows, it can eat up a whole 4 to 12 gigabytes of space.

Microsoft’s claim is that on a 64 bit machine with 32 GB of space, these changes can shave off 6.6 GB, which is a 45% reduction in the size of the operating system.

On a 64 bit machine with 32 GB of space, Windows 10 saves quite a bit of space.
On a 64 bit machine with 32 GB of space, Windows 10 saves quite a bit of space.


Given Microsoft’s history of making Windows more and more bloated, this change is a turning point for the company. Ed Bott of ZDNet pointed out:

“For more than 15 years, the storage corollary to Moore’s Law was Windows’ best friend. Each new version of Windows required more disk space, but hard disks were growing in capacity (and offering faster read/write speeds), so the bloat didn’t matter all that much.

Then things changed, gradually but inexorably, as solid-state storage began to displace conventional spinning disks.”

Now, with Microsoft facing smaller drives, they have been forced to build an operating system that uses a smaller footprint while also improving on functionality on as many devices as possible.

In April, we will see Microsoft unveil more Windows 10 goodness at a press event. Until then, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on new builds.


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Daniel Heppner
My big interests are photography, IT, and electronics. I like to get out the soldering iron and build things for my house that light up. I've traveled around the world taking pictures and consider the viewfinder an extension of my eyeball. I build computers for myself and friends for fun, and have experience with software programming. I have experience programming underwater robots for robotics competitions, as well as wiring up the circuitry for them.


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