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Windows 10 Fall Creators Update To Drop ReFS Creation Support in Pro and Home Editions

Microsoft quietly announced late last week that some editions of Windows 10 will lose file and disk creation capabilities using the Resilient File System (ReFS).

Only the Windows 10 Enterprise edition and the new Windows 10 Pro for Workstation edition will have ReFS file and disk creation capabilities, going forward. That change will take effect starting with the Windows 10 "fall creators update," Microsoft explained, in an Aug. 17 addendum in this support article. That article, originally published in July, lists other deprecated features, too, such as PowerShell 2.0.

"[ReFS] creation ability will be removed from all other editions [of Windows 10]," the terse addendum noted. "All other editions [of Windows 10] will have [ReFS] Read and Write ability."

This change suggests that Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Home editions won't be able to create new files using ReFS when their systems update to the Windows 10 fall creators update. Those users also won't be able to format disks using the ReFS option. However, it will be possible to read and modify existing files that were originally created with ReFS. When new files do get created and new disks get formatted, apparently, those Windows 10 users will be using the older NTFS approach instead of ReFS.

When asked why the change was made, a Microsoft spokesperson offered the following statement:

We are constantly evaluating existing features in Windows 10 in an effort to improve the user experience for customers. As part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, we will fully support ReFS in Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Pro for Workstation editions. All other editions will have the ability to read and write but will not have the creation ability.

The Windows 10 fall creators update is expected to arrive next month or in October. Presumably, the Windows 10 Education edition will continue to have ReFS support, since it's been described by Microsoft as being somewhat equivalent to the Enterprise edition.

Microsoft's addendum offered no clue why ReFS creation capabilities were being removed from the lower end Windows 10 editions. In past descriptions, ReFS has been depicted by Microsoft as being its "next-generation" file system, the presumed successor to NTFS.

Microsoft originally developed ReFS for Windows Server 2012, but it's been added to later server versions, too. It also was added to client versions of Windows, starting with Windows 8.1 and onward.

ReFS was designed to resist data corruption. It uses a "scrubber" to fix them proactively. ReFS is also designed to fix data corruptions in combination with the Storage Spaces feature of Windows Server since it automatically stores a copy of the data. Microsoft added enhancements in ReFS for virtual machines, including "block cloning" to speed up copying operations and a "sparse VDL" feature to accelerate virtual hard disk creation. In addition, ReFS supports large datasets to the tune of "millions of terabytes," according to Microsoft's "Overview" document.

Perhaps Microsoft considered these capabilities to be too enterprise focused for its lower Windows 10 editions. However, ReFS currently does have some shortcomings compared with NTFS. For instance, ReFS lacks NTFS' "file system compression," "file system encryption" and "data deduplication" features, among others.

Microsoft has tended to lop off features from the Windows 10 Pro edition, little by little, perhaps to compel upgrades to the Windows 10 Enterprise edition. For instance, Microsoft previously removed App-V and UE-V tools support from the Windows 10 Pro edition with the release of the "anniversary update." Also unavailable with the Pro edition is the ability to block Windows Store tips and tricks suggestions delivered to end users, as well as Windows Store access by end users.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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