Lightweight Windows 10 64-bit for low-storage devices – How Microsoft achieves ‘compact footprint’

The new Windows 10 operating system (OS) will be lightweight enough as to have a "compact footprint" on systems with low storage, Microsoft announced.

As many of you already know, Microsoft wants to make its new Windows 10 a universal OS for all devices, be they PCs, tablets, or smartphones. Of course, not all devices have the same capabilities, and an OS may work better on some and worse on others.

Microsoft's Windows OS has never been too easy on storage, as it takes up quite a lot of disk space by itself, without the additional apps and programs users install. Windows 10, however, has to fit devices with low storage capacity, and Microsoft is making significant efforts in this regards.

The company just announced more details on the process, revealing and explaining the progress it made so far. In order to make its Windows 10 more lightweight, Microsoft tweaked the way its new OS handles compression and recovery images.

While Windows already compresses some files, the new Windows 10 will reportedly boast smarter compression for more efficiency by taking into account the RAM, CPU, and other hardware of the device.

"Windows 10 employs two separate and independent approaches for achieving a compact footprint. First, Windows 10 leverages an efficient compression algorithm to compress system files.  Second, recovery enhancements have removed the requirement for a separate recovery image," Microsoft explained in a new company blog post on Monday, March 16.

"With current builds, Windows can efficiently compress system files. That gives back approximately 1.5GB of storage for 32-bit and 2.6GB of storage for 64-bit Windows. Phones will also be able to use this same efficient compression algorithm and likewise have capacity savings with Windows 10."

Windows' recovery images, meanwhile, have also occupied a lot of storage so far, but the new Windows 10 will change the process and ditch the static recovery image that takes up space on the device.

"We are also redesigning Windows' Refresh and Reset functionalities to no longer use a separate recovery image (often preinstalled by manufacturers today) in order to bring Windows devices back to a pristine state. This reduces Windows' storage footprint further as the recovery image on typical devices can range in size from 4GB to 12GB, depending on the make and model. Phones already have a storage-optimized recovery solution, so, unlike compression, this enhancement is only for tablets, laptops, and desktops," Microsoft further explained.

The Reset and Refresh feature in Windows 10 will basically build the OS recovery image using runtime system files that are currently installed, not static recovery images. Users will still be able to create their own recovery images if they need to, and store them on some external drive. According to Microsoft, this new process will be able to save around 4GB of memory.

The image above illustrates how Windows 10 will free up space instead of hogging significant amounts of storage. Intrigued?

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