Microsoft’s Latest: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations

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Professionals using server-grade PCs in mission-critical computing will soon have a new version of Microsoft’s operating system designed specifically for their needs: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations.

Announced yesterday, the latest addition to Microsoft’s expanding family of Windows 10 options was created based on feedback from Windows 10 “Insiders” who test-drive pre-release versions of the operating system.

Set to be released as part of Microsoft’s coming Fall Creators Update, Windows 10 Pro for Workstations will come with high-end persistent memory, support for faster file sharing, and an enhanced file system for handling large volumes of data. It will also feature expanded hardware support for advanced, server-grade processors, up to four CPUs, and as much as 6 TB of memory.

Built To ‘Take Advantage of Raw Power’

“We know that power users have unique needs to run efficiently and we take the feedback we hear seriously,” said Klaus Diaconu, partner group program manager for Microsoft’s Windows & Devices Group. Writing yesterday on the Windows Blog, Diaconu said Microsoft developed Windows 10 Pro for Workstations to “meet the needs of our advanced users deploying their Workstation PCs in demanding and mission-critical scenarios.”

For example, the new version of Windows will feature a resilient file system (ReFS) for “cloud-grade resiliency for data on fault-tolerant storage spaces.” Designed for systems that handle large volumes of data, ReFS will be able to do things such detect when data on a mirrored drive becomes corrupt and respond by using healthy data from another drive instead.

Windows 10 Pro for Workstations will also support non-volatile memory modules for high-speed file reading and writing that preserves data in a computer’s persistent memory, and will come with SMB Direct for high-speed file sharing. SMB Direct supports network adapters with remote direct memory access that can operate quickly and with low latency without using much CPU power.

In addition, Pro for Workstations will support devices with high-performance hardware such as server-grade Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processors.

“One of the top pain points expressed by our Windows Insiders was the limits on taking advantage of the raw power of their machine,” Diaconu said. “Windows 10 Pro for Workstations utilizes significant investments, that Windows has made in recent releases, for scaling up across a high number of logical processors and large amounts of memory.”

Too Many Windows 10s?

While Microsoft said Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is designed to meet real and specific computing needs, some industry observers have started to question the need for so many different “flavors” of the company’s operating system.

On Twitter today, tech writer Paul Thurrott noted that Microsoft has also introduced Windows 10 S and Windows 10 Business this year. “What’s next?” he asked. “Windows 10 for Hambu[r]gers?”

“I wish they would just do away with all the editions and go macOS style, just one for everything,” Twitter user Stanzilla said in response to Thurrott.

In a separate tweet, Tero Alhonen listed 10 variants of Windows 10: Home, Enterprise, Education, IoT, Mobile, Mobile Enterprise, Pro, Pro for Business, Pro for Workstations, and S.

Microsoft yesterday also defended its Surface laptops and tablets against a new survey by Consumer Reports that found those devices experienced higher breakage rates in the first two years than do devices from other manufacturers, including Apple, Samsung, Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Dell, and Toshiba.

“While we respect Consumer Reports, we disagree with their findings,” corporate vice president for Microsoft Devices Panos Panay wrote on the Windows Blog. “Surface has had quite a journey over the last few years, and we’ve learned a lot. In the Surface team we track quality constantly, using metrics that include failure and return rates — both our predicted 1-2-year failure and actual return rates for Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are significantly lower than 25%.”