Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it would begin using ~7GB of user hard drive space for the application of future updates. The advantage of this system is intended to be that it doesn’t break the update process halfway through by a system running out of space. The disadvantage is that it would eliminate virtually all of the storage available on small systems — and Windows 10’s previous minimum storage requirement was 16GB for a 32-bit installation. That plus 7GB of storage only left 4-5GB of data for programs on a base install.
When Microsoft announced these changes, we criticized them for boosting storage requirements that would ultimately make some of the original Windows 10 tablets useless and declared that the company should raise the minimum requirements to compensate for this. Now, the company has done exactly that. IoT Enterprise storage requirements remain the same, however.
What this means for older systems that are this storage limited is that they’ll be limited in terms of which OS updates they can apply. Microsoft’s life cycle service update is shown below:
If you have one of these older systems, you should be taken care of through May 12, 2020. After that, you may want to find an alternate solution. On the other hand, the systems that actually shipped with such limited storage solutions may be closing on five years old by that point. At that kind of age, it can be worth replacing, especially since these machines tended to have lower specs and capabilities.
One thing we do approve of is Microsoft bumping all the way up to 32GB on both platforms. That doubles the capacity for 32-bit installations and increases it by 1.6x for the 64-bit version. Even adding in the 7GB requirement for additional storage, Microsoft built some play into the standard. By setting the minimum requirement to 32GB for both builds (well below the actual requirements), Microsoft likely guaranteed that manufacturers would ship tablets or ultra-low-cost laptops and desktops with at least 64GB of storage, that being the next obvious step up from 32GB. The net result should be more usable storage on these systems going forward — and since the minimum capacity requirements of Windows have always been a pain point, this change should alleviate them.