Microsoft’s ‘WIMBoot’ Squeezes Hefty Windows 8.1 Onto Smaller Devices

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has unveiled its new technological technique for squeezing Windows 8.1 onto smaller, 16GB devices. The solution? It’s called “WIMBoot.” Yes, you read that correctly: WIMBoot. That’s Windows Image Boot, per ComputerWorld and PC Magazine.

Names aside, WIMBoot is an interesting disk space-saving technique that Microsoft announced in a blog post last week. The technique can be used with the latest Windows 8.1 update, which was also released last week. WIMBoot allows users with a 16GB device to install the latest Windows operating system and still have 12GB of disk space left afterwards. Prior to WIMBoot, those same 16GB devices would be left with just 7GB of free space.

The new technique means that smaller devices utilizing the Windows operating system will also compare much more favorably to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) 16GB iPad Air, which has about 12GB-13GB of free user space after iOS and other system files are installed and account for, according to ComputerWorld‘s report.

“This new deployment option, called Windows Image Boot (or WIMBoot), takes a different approach than the traditional Windows installations,” said Michael Niehaus, the senior product marketing manager of the Windows Commercial group, in a blog post on Thursday.

“Instead of extracting all the individual Windows files from an image (WIM) file, they remain compressed in the WIM. But from the user’s perspective, nothing looks any different: you still see a C: volume containing Windows, your apps, and all of your data,” Niehaus continued, according to ComputerWorld.

Niehaus cautioned that there is a small performance hit as a result of the way WIMBoot works. Additionally, because the .WIM file is read-only, any subsequent updates to the 8.1 OS will have to be stored on the C: drive rather than being compressed with the original .WIM file. As a result, the updates will take up an increasing amount of space as they are “collected” on the C: drive, ComputerWorld reports.

“Updates are applied to the real C: drive,” Niehaus said. “So there will be some increase in the Windows footprint over time.” For that reason, it’s likely that at some point, say, following a large update, the device may need to a be reset with a newer, potentially larger .WIM file.

On the flip side, a benefit to Microsoft’s new space-saving technique is that because the .WIM file is read-only and the updates are applied to the real C: drive, the .WIM file can act as a natural, “factory fresh” recovery source if ever you want to restore your device.

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