Microsoft hopes to make Windows 7 use less disk space!
The latest post on the Engineering Windows 7 blog
is about disk space and is written by Michael Beck, a program manager in the core OS deployment feature team. The Windows 7 team outlined tradeoffs between disk space and a few key features, and emphasized the reliability concerns that Windows Vista addressed in Windows XP. These justified disk space hogs include device drivers
, hibernation support, the page file, international language fonts, logging, registry back up, and support for robust rollback and recovery after installing critical security and functionality updates (System Restore). The Windows 7 team is not just looking at the size of the system once deployed, but also how the system grows over time with logs, updates, backups, and service packs. Beck explains why disk space has suddenly become an issue with this upcoming release of Windows:
"Windows disk space consumption has trended larger over time. While not desirable, the degree to which it’s been allowed is due in large part to ever-increasing hard drive capacity, combined with a customer need and engineering focus that focused heavily on recoverability, data protection, increasing breadth of device support, and demand for innovative new features. However, the proliferation of Solid State Drives (SSDs) has challenged this trend, and is pushing us to consider disk footprint in a much more thoughtful way and take that into account for Windows 7."
Don't worry; reliability and recoverability features aren't going to get cut. Microsoft has simply looked at feedback, and concluded it needs to let Windows make smarter choices about disk usage, and help the user figure out what potentially reclaimable space is being consumed. These underlying changes do need to be implemented across all Windows editions, but unfortunately, there's no "one size fits all" approach for users:
"Because we know that different customers will want to make different tradeoffs of disk space relative to recovery (especially on small footprint devices) with Windows 7, we want to make sure you have more control than you currently do to decide ahead of time how much disk space to use for these mechanisms, and we will also tune our defaults to be more sensitive to overall consumption due to the changing nature of storage."
Beck expects Windows 7's disk footprint to be smaller than Vista's. The goal is to make sure that Windows 7 will clean up sometime after successfully installing updates, won't install certain components that don't make sense based on the form factor, make System Restore by default keep a sensible number of backups instead of a "up to 15 percent of the disk," shrink the hiberfil.sys file size, and will remove unnecessary clutter as it accumulates. In short, better settings by default and more control for the user. Whether these aims will be achieved or not we will see soon enough, but the fact that Microsoft is taking it into consideration in the first place is a good sign. My next computer will likely be sporting a new SSD, so this decision is something I definitely welcome. Read more at the source