In a post published to the Windows blog on March 16, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will have a “compact footprint.” This means that the operating system will be able to efficiently compress system files, giving back 1.5GB of storage for 32-bit and 2.6GB of storage for 64-bit Windows.
Microsoft will achieve this through two different approaches. The first involves leveraging a more efficient compression algorithm to compress system files. The second surrounds recovery enhancements, which have removed the requirement for separate recovery images. Microsoft notes that it is also redesigning Windows’ refresh and reset functionalities to no longer use a separate recovery image.
“Without a separate recovery image, the refresh and reset functionalities will instead rebuild the operating system in place using runtime system files,” the Microsoft team wrote on its blog. “Not only does this take up less disk space, it also means you will not have a lengthy list of operating system updates to reinstall after recovering your device.”
The new algorithms being used for compression appear to be variants of existing ones in Windows software, according to ArsTechnica. The NTFS filesystem used in Windows has been around for years, allowing operators to compress individual files and folders to reduce their on-disk size.
Microsoft says that its memory savings through compression will extend to the Windows phone as well. However, it’s worth noting that Windows phones already have a storage-optimized recovery solution, so the reduction won’t be as dramatic.
Windows 10 does not have an official release date yet, but Microsoft has confirmed that it will be free to Windows 8.1 users for its first year. This compression will be an added bonus for users who own a device with 128GB or storage or less.