Windows 8.1 adds WIMBoot, 16 GB devices can have 12 GB free with new OS install option

Windows 8.1 Update was released to the public earlier this week, but the new version of Microsoft's latest OS could be installed on tablets that have storage capacities as small as 16 GB. Today, Microsoft announced that it has introduced a new install option for Windows 8.1 called Windows Image Boot, or WIMBoot, that's been made to allow those kinds of products a way to get a full version of the OS while still having room for the installations of apps and other programs.

In a blog post, Microsoft said they dislike the typical way that Windows is installed on a new PC via extracting folders from an image file, WIMBoot keeps all of those files compressed. However, the user of the device sees no difference when they explore their storage in the C: folder.

Microsoft says: 

Effectively, you copy the WIM file into a separate “images” partition (just like you would for a recovery image), then use DISM to create pointer files from the standard C: operating system volume into the WIM file. These pointer files are completely transparent, and Windows knows how to boot the operating system (keeping all the files in the WIM) when configured in this setup.

The end result is that a device with 16 GB of storage will be able to keep 12 GB free under Windows 8.1 with a WIMBoot set-up, compared to just 7 GB of free space in the normal method. Microsoft offers up information on how anyone with the right experience can set up a Windows 8.1 WIMBoot install on their PC. Tablets will be sold in the coming months that will have the OS installed by using the WIMBoot method.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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Windows 8.x based Windows NT 6.x core, like Vista and Win7.

Win. NT 6.x editions' setup bulk size: 2~3 GB (after setup takes up 10~16 GB in disk)
Win. NT 5.x editions' setup bulk size: 500~600 MB (after setup takes up 1~3 GB in disk)

Which is why no surprise fast spreading of Android.

Mobile OSs incredibly fast spreading. In this case, how much longer survive Windows while built over heavy the cores (NT 6.x)? Windows NT 7.0 shouldn't become more clumsy, more over bulky, more RAM-CPU-Disk usage.

If Microsoft inability to creating a new core of Windows NT, at least NT 5.x core can be re-updating, re-modernizing. Of course, this is a utopia. Both mobile and PC versions of Windows will not be changing anything. MS again will continue make heavier, bulky to next Windows.

pureocean said,
Windows 8.x based Windows NT 6.x core, like Vista and Win7.

Win. NT 6.x editions' setup bulk size: 2~3 GB (after setup takes up 10~16 GB in disk)
Win. NT 5.x editions' setup bulk size: 500~600 MB (after setup takes up 1~3 GB in disk)

Which is why no surprise fast spreading of Android.

Mobile OSs incredibly fast spreading. In this case, how much longer survive Windows while built over heavy the cores (NT 6.x)? Windows NT 7.0 shouldn't become more clumsy, more over bulky, more RAM-CPU-Disk usage.

If Microsoft inability to creating a new core of Windows NT, at least NT 5.x core can be re-updating, re-modernizing. Of course, this is a utopia. Both mobile and PC versions of Windows will not be changing anything. MS again will continue make heavier, bulky to next Windows.

Ok, going to stop you. You are mistaken on so many levels, I don't even know where to begin.

A few examples:

The NT 5.x editions didn't install the complete OS and additionally install the source media. This is why there is a big jump between NT 6.x - It also had a ton less drivers that were installed and available at all times. (Go look up the actual binaries, and notice the sizes are about the same.)

As for the 'core', the HAL and NT Kernel (even after merging the SMP HALs) are tiny. The HAL itself started off around 64kb in 1992 and is around 300kb today.

If you think the Windows footprint is huge, go look at Windows Phone, it is running the full OS. The reason it is 'smaller' is that it doesn't have all the extra optional features and drivers.

I always wondered why they didn't use WIM image like that by default. If anyone explores the wim image it is very easily noticeable that it is same as what we see in our C: drive on fresh install.
Glad this is official now.

Ian William said,
Good to see that newer versions are being built on the foundation introduced by Windows Vista.

It's been there from late 2006, and it's only now that it gets to have a more effective use. Sadly Windows Vista was really overlooked.

Mr. Dee said,
This is not for the average user.
I consider myself above average on a lot of things but this is just way too much work for so little benefit. MS documentation has always been piss poor at best. In most cases someone comes up with an easier way to do it on a lot of their technologies. For instance with MDT I pretty much had to use youtube videos, forums(msfn.org) and few other fan sites to handle all the stuff MS documentation does not cover.

This is a lot of crap to do to set this up. Gonna wait till someone makes an easier way to do this or they make it an option to do it directly from the dvd. What I want to do is install MS office, updates and a few MMO installers and then wimboot this to a SSD and use a standard HDD for the other files.

This is very, very similar to how Android works, with a read-only system partition and a data partition that more or less works as an overlay. Pretty cool.

Ambroos said,
This is very, very similar to how Android works, with a read-only system partition and a data partition that more or less works as an overlay. Pretty cool.

Except it is quite different. Windows already maintains the read-only system, just because it doesn't sit in its own partition is irrelevant.

Go look up Windows Vista/7/8 system protection, virtualization, etc. Windows is already abstracting the OS files with a virtualized ProgramData folder.

Let's wait for performance testing. I'm afraid keeping the files compressed will negatively affect performance. And devices with just 16GB storage aren't going to have much CPU power to begin with.

And will windows updates cause the size to blow up since the WIM is read only?

Perhaps they could occasionally apply a diff to the underlying WIM through a special update via WU. Because yes, the way things look, updates will simply replace the pointers (symbolic links? hardlinks?) with actual files and users will eventually find themselves running out of space after a huge Windows update.

mrp04 said,
Let's wait for performance testing. I'm afraid keeping the files compressed will negatively affect performance. And devices with just 16GB storage aren't going to have much CPU power to begin with.

And will windows updates cause the size to blow up since the WIM is read only?

If anything, depending on the speed of the media, this will be as fast or faster.

WIM's compression options are designed to be extremely fast on 'read', which is all it will be doing unless apply an update.

Go look up WIM performance. Microsoft wouldn't be doing this if the performance was going to be a problem.

scorpian007 said,

Without using junctions?

Yes.

Do a web search, you can change the App install location in the registry, or even manually decide which Apps or as you suggest even use a redirect.

Mobius Enigma said,
Do a web search, you can change the App install location in the registry, or even manually decide which Apps or as you suggest even use a redirect.
Yes, but this is an unsupported hack. Why not provide an officially sanctioned way of doing this? Would be really useful indeed.

Romero said,
Yes, but this is an unsupported hack. Why not provide an officially sanctioned way of doing this? Would be really useful indeed.

This is NOT an unsupported hack. A Registry change is 'supported', or Microsoft wouldn't have the setting available in the registry for the user to change.

There are several 'instructions' on this, specifically on the microsoft.com website.

Here is one example using PowerShell with a cute video:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us...0acb-48cc-918d-f10ff46915ef

Mobius Enigma said,

A Registry change is 'supported', or Microsoft wouldn't have the setting available in the registry for the user to change.

Basic users will never do this. Microsoft need an option to do this via the UI.

Mobius Enigma said,
This is NOT an unsupported hack. A Registry change is 'supported', or Microsoft wouldn't have the setting available in the registry for the user to change.
Well ok, might be supported but of course end users won't be rushing to do all this any time soon. What we need is a simple "change app location" option in the OS, and it also needs to be a per-app setting (which this registry edit isn't).

scorpian007 said,

Basic users will never do this. Microsoft need an option to do this via the UI.

I agree they should throw in an option to move this via the UI, but the point was that it was already possible and a lot of users already do this. (With a 32gb tablet, using the SDCard for Apps and Program installs is fairly common.)

Speaking of apps on SD cards, has anyone tried a 128GB microSD yet with any of the Surface models? If it works on the Surface RT/2 and Surface Pro/2 I'm thinking of buying a few.

Edited by Romero, Apr 12 2014, 2:08pm :

So with this you could have a 16gig SSD drive with Windows and 1TB drive, anything new would be installed onto your 1TB drive and your SSD drive would only hold windows.

yea i know this, windows files are going to be touch on the 16gig SSD, then when you boot you could load windows into memory on each boot from the SSD. Anything new (windows updates) would be updated onto the SSD drive version and when you would need to reboot to get that version of windows would be loaded into memory.

warwagon said,
Why is everyone calling this 8.1. Windows 8.1 update was released months ago. Call it something else like 8.1.1
Microsoft continues to have horrible naming decisions, this time they decided to just not give a proper name to the "Spring Update"

warwagon said,
Why is everyone calling this 8.1. Windows 8.1 update was released months ago. Call it something else like 8.1.1
Microsoft are calling the recently-released update "Windows 8.1 Update". It's NOT 8.1.1

warwagon said,
Why is everyone calling this 8.1. Windows 8.1 update was released months ago. Call it something else like 8.1.1
People call it Windows 8.1 Update because its name is Windows 8.1 Update, which is consitent with other Microsoft product like Visual Studio and Windows Phone.

windows 8.1 is a different operating system to windows 8.

there is an update to windows 8.1, but its still windows 8.1, the operating system.

warwagon said,
Why is everyone calling this 8.1. Windows 8.1 update was released months ago. Call it something else like 8.1.1

Windows 8 and windows 8.1 are different versions. This latest update is a mandatory set of updates for windows 8.1. So this is windows 8.1.

If you were running windows 7, and had all updates installed, you'd still call it windows 7 (the fact that you should have all updates goes without saying.

SierraSonic said,
Microsoft continues to have horrible naming decisions, this time they decided to just not give a proper name to the "Spring Update"

In this thread, suddenly everybody cares about version numbers again.

Pay no attention to three years of "nobody cares about version numbers" in every Chrome thread ever.

They should just call it Service Pack 1. Let's face it, it's close enough to being one.

... yes I know it's not one, but really, it'll save confusion. :p

Raa said,
They should just call it Service Pack 1. Let's face it, it's close enough to being one.

... yes I know it's not one, but really, it'll save confusion. :p

Or we can all just call it Windows 8.1... When anybody talks about news on Windows XP today, do you really think they're talking about anything but SP3??

warwagon said,
Why is everyone calling this 8.1. Windows 8.1 update was released months ago. Call it something else like 8.1.1

Because beyond the update having extra features, it is just Windows 8.1, that is fully updated. It is not a new version.


Note: Control Panel\System and Security\System
That is the name of the OS - Windows 8.1
Nothing else.

Mobius Enigma said,

Because beyond the update having extra features, it is just Windows 8.1, that is fully updated. It is not a new version.


Note: Control Panel\System and Security\System
That is the name of the OS - Windows 8.1
Nothing else.

Precisely, Windows 8.1 became more or less like what rolling Linux distros are doing - always getting constant newer updates, any more major Windows sources are getting outdated for the new one, you can't even get updates for the stock 8.1 anymore, unless you got the latest Update 1 installed. So when it's about Windows 8.1, it's actually about Windows 8.1 Update 1. Yet we'll call it Windows 8.1, because the both became one.

PotatoAlchemist said,

Precisely, Windows 8.1 became more or less like what rolling Linux distros are doing - always getting constant newer updates, any more major Windows sources are getting outdated for the new one, you can't even get updates for the stock 8.1 anymore, unless you got the latest Update 1 installed. So when it's about Windows 8.1, it's actually about Windows 8.1 Update 1. Yet we'll call it Windows 8.1, because the both became one.

yes just as a fully patched windows 7 is still just windows 7, so it is with 8.1

duddit2 said,
Any major performance issues with keeping files compressed in the image?

I hope folks start doing tests to find out. I'm VERY curious. I also wonder if there'll be a way to convert existing devices to this, like the Surface?

Chikairo said,

I hope folks start doing tests to find out. I'm VERY curious. I also wonder if there'll be a way to convert existing devices to this, like the Surface?

Anyone have ideas on how to make this work on my Dell Venue 8 Pro (Or Surface ;))? I would love to reclaim more space! =) I just need a usb hub that powers and allows for inputs...

scorpian007 said,
Hopefully not. If it's similar performance to booting off a VHD, this is going to be fantastic.

Yeah but we're talking about a compressed image here, so long as decompression can be done faster than max reads of the disk it should be fine (unless I'm wrong on this).

duddit2 said,
Any major performance issues with keeping files compressed in the image?

Performance can be 'better' due to how the WIM format works.

Remember that the compression options of WIM are very fast when 'reading', which is all that the system files are going to be using outside of an update.

In testing, depending on the media, uncompressed WIM is slightly slower than reading the files directly from the media, but with FAST and MAX options are faster than reading the files from the media.

The CPU hit of uncompressing the files is tiny on today's devices. Remember that compression technologies were common and ran fairly well in the era of 486 and early Pentium class CPUs. (Stacker/DoubleDisk/NTFS Compression/etc)

The beauty of using the WIM is that storage can be reduced significantly and the install still retains all the extra features and drivers for devices as the user might need them.

Performance issues come to mind. But what about MS Office 2013 install? The size of updates for it is hilarious. This month Windows update pushed updates for MS Office 2013 x64 SP1 which had size of 1 GB. After installing of updates completed, my C: had used space increased by 3 GB. We also cannot reset base for Office so the hidden office cache folder keeps on increasing. One update of 450+ MB consisted a Visio 2013 update alone and I didn't even had Visio installed.

So we are back to square one w.r.t. space saved.

to be honest if I was to buy a 16GB tablet running windows, I think I'd be fine without office until the modern apps are released (like the iPad apps). A 16GB device is mainly going to a consumption devices, sofa surfing and games etc.

There is one note and the mail client, and waiting for word/excel/power point wouldn't be a pain to much, due to its main usage scenario. People wanting a 'do work' device would likely be after larger device with more storage.

I'd go as far as to say 16GB devices should be RT only, just my opinion.

sanke1 said,
Performance issues come to mind. But what about MS Office 2013 install? The size of updates for it is hilarious. This month Windows update pushed updates for MS Office 2013 x64 SP1 which had size of 1 GB. After installing of updates completed, my C: had used space increased by 3 GB. We also cannot reset base for Office so the hidden office cache folder keeps on increasing. One update of 450+ MB consisted a Visio 2013 update alone and I didn't even had Visio installed.

So we are back to square one w.r.t. space saved.

What do you think the odds are that Microsoft will implement a WIM install type for Office?

PS You can get rid of MSOCache, especially with 2013 as it defaults to 'click to run' and will use your online connection if the local cache is missing. (Do a Web Search for more information on this.)

Not just these sorts of devices - consider hard (as in platter and especially solid state) drives; solid-state drives are still far smaller than platter drives, and need the space-recovery option of WIMboot more than platter drives do.

Mobius Enigma said,

What do you think the odds are that Microsoft will implement a WIM install type for Office?

PS You can get rid of MSOCache, especially with 2013 as it defaults to 'click to run' and will use your online connection if the local cache is missing. (Do a Web Search for more information on this.)

I am not sure. I feel like MS might be housing Office on Direct X in the future so what would that mean for this option? If anything?

Scabrat said,

I am not sure. I feel like MS might be housing Office on Direct X in the future so what would that mean for this option? If anything?

Office already uses DirectX, it is a graphics framework and has nothing to do with this.

Windows itself uses DirectX, and with a WIM install DirectX libraries are already stored in the compressed image.

Mobius Enigma said,

Office already uses DirectX, it is a graphics framework and has nothing to do with this.

Windows itself uses DirectX, and with a WIM install DirectX libraries are already stored in the compressed image.

Oh, does it? I just saw their preview of Office running on direct x 12 and it was the fastest office I have ever seen =).

As long as windows isn't installed on consumer devices that only have 16gb because of this.... we need more storage not software that prevents the need for decent hardware specs.

SierraSonic said,
As long as windows isn't installed on consumer devices that only have 16gb because of this.... we need more storage not software that prevents the need for decent hardware specs.

Samsung have shown they clearly dont care about cramming an 8.15GB bloated Touchwiz rom onto a 16GB phone. Their 16GB S5 has 7.85GB of free space, the S4 had roughly 8GB free. Stock Android is about 200-300MB. Im grateful Microsoft did this because OEMS have shown they dont care.

McKay said,

Samsung have shown they clearly dont care about cramming an 8.15GB bloated Touchwiz rom onto a 16GB phone. Their 16GB S5 has 7.85GB of free space, the S4 had roughly 8GB free. Stock Android is about 200-300MB. Im grateful Microsoft did this because OEMS have shown they dont care.

I understand the need for it, I just wish people quit buying 16gb devices for one generation of devices. That way when apple and samsung are stuck with million of pre built for rush devices that only have 16gb of memory they might learn a little bit. To bad most people will buy it because it's cheaper.

SierraSonic said,
I understand the need for it, I just wish people quit buying 16gb devices for one generation of devices. That way when apple and samsung are stuck with million of pre built for rush devices that only have 16gb of memory they might learn a little bit. To bad most people will buy it because it's cheaper.

You say that like there's a lesson they aren't learning. It sounds like they're building exactly what people are willing to buy.

As reality tends to go, if the solution to a problem is "if only everybody would behave completely differently", then that's not the solution, and it's very likely the problem itself is misunderstood, too.

SierraSonic said,
I understand the need for it, I just wish people quit buying 16gb devices for one generation of devices. That way when apple and samsung are stuck with million of pre built for rush devices that only have 16gb of memory they might learn a little bit. To bad most people will buy it because it's cheaper.
They're not really cheaper, though. They are raping their customers. It costs like $10 more to put in 32 GB instead of 16 GB, but they charge the consumer $50-100. It's ridiculous.

Joshie said,

You say that like there's a lesson they aren't learning. It sounds like they're building exactly what people are willing to buy.

As reality tends to go, if the solution to a problem is "if only everybody would behave completely differently", then that's not the solution, and it's very likely the problem itself is misunderstood, too.

The problem is the people. If they quit buying crap, I might get the quality of product that I actually want without having to pay for an unrealistic mark up.

SierraSonic said,
The problem is the people. If they quit buying crap, I might get the quality of product that I actually want without having to pay for an unrealistic mark up.

Well you can't count on something like that. Again, the problem can't be "people". That's a cop-out. People just are what they are. If your expectations are unrealistic, then the problem is your expectations.

Blaming things that can never change is a great way to waste energy and contribute nothing to the world around you.

SierraSonic said,
The problem is the people. If they quit buying crap, I might get the quality of product that I actually want without having to pay for an unrealistic mark up.

The problem is that you want a too high-quality product. If you didn't want that, this wouldn't be a problem. Just to put it the other way around. :)

And even if everyone bought the higher priced products for a whole generation, that only shows them that they CAN charge that much, so you'd still pay the same, but not have cheaper option anymore if they stopped producing the cheaper products.

So your "solution" isn't really a solution to the "problem" that you don't want to pay more for a better device.

What's the big issue. OEMs can give people cheaper tablets because of this. It's not like there won't be 32gb, 64gb, etc versions as well for those who want more space. Sure the market will be flooded with cheap, poorly built Windows tablets now as well as Android ones (at least the Windows ones should have better performance). But people buy ####, most people have no taste or they simply cannot afford anything better - at least they''ll be able to get something. It's the same for cars, why doesn't everyone drive an Audi or a Merc.

The funny thing is, the solution to my problem is time, I just have to wait a couple of generations of product to come out to satisfy my needs. It only leaves me feeling left out until sometime above par comes out. I can still blame people for causing my problem of waiting even if I cant solve it. :p

Damn you lowest common denominator!

I guess my problem is I actually save the extra money for a better product instead of getting the cheapest version of something just to have it like RIGHT NOW. Some of my biggest purchasing regrets come from getting the value edition of products, I have learned to always buy an "upper-middle" grade product. As with video cards for example, they have great gains over the value cards, cost only slightly more, and do almost as much as the super high end over priced models.

I apply this "upper-middle" requirement to everything I would use almost everyday. I believe I actually save money this way.


SierraSonic said,
As long as windows isn't installed on consumer devices that only have 16gb because of this.... we need more storage not software that prevents the need for decent hardware specs.

Agreed, but there will always be a low tier in which things like storage are compromised for price... So, this is a good option to me. Someone that's cost concious can still purchase a Windows device, and have room for their stuff...

And at the end of the day, what do you really need more storage for? Your stuff... So, if more of that is available to you, it's reasonable to say that you may not NEED as much storage space to begin with...

It seems like a win win to me.

M_Lyons10 said,

Agreed, but there will always be a low tier in which things like storage are compromised for price... So, this is a good option to me. Someone that's cost concious can still purchase a Windows device, and have room for their stuff...

And at the end of the day, what do you really need more storage for? Your stuff... So, if more of that is available to you, it's reasonable to say that you may not NEED as much storage space to begin with...

It seems like a win win to me.

In a world where 4TB HDDs are going for $150 and 240GB SSDs are $109, a storage upgrade of 16GB shouldn't be anywhere near $100,or even $40, but because it sells, and it sells at these rates, companies have no reason to add more, and are gouging .45c a GB and marking it up to $5 a GB!

SierraSonic said,
In a world where 4TB HDDs are going for $150 and 240GB SSDs are $109, a storage upgrade of 16GB shouldn't be anywhere near $100,or even $40, but because it sells, and it sells at these rates, companies have no reason to add more, and are gouging .45c a GB and marking it up to $5 a GB!

That's how tiered pricing works... Lower tiers have to be low enough to give benefit to higher tiers... And rarely is storage the only concession either. It's just the most visible to the consumer as other specs are less understood...

M_Lyons10 said,

That's how tiered pricing works... Lower tiers have to be low enough to give benefit to higher tiers... And rarely is storage the only concession either. It's just the most visible to the consumer as other specs are less understood...

When it comes to phones, tablets, and most anything with built in memory, it's usually ONLY the memory that is different.

How is it more rare when I notice it on pretty much everything with built in memory?

Again, I get why this is being done, I just don't have to agree with or like it. :/

McKay said,

Samsung have shown they clearly dont care about cramming an 8.15GB bloated Touchwiz rom onto a 16GB phone. Their 16GB S5 has 7.85GB of free space...

Oh my god, no it doesn't. It has 10.7, not that that is anything great anyway, but please just get your facts right. The phone that had 7.85 was an overloaded demo phone for MWC or whichever-the-hell conference it was.
http://goo.gl/Rs1U2h
http://goo.gl/1xbPNZ
http://goo.gl/m7nuo8

Who cares, anyway? You can get a 64gb mSD card for $30.

SierraSonic said,
As long as windows isn't installed on consumer devices that only have 16gb because of this.... we need more storage not software that prevents the need for decent hardware specs.

Just for perspectives sake:

Devices like this are better suited for parts of the world were $10 is a lot of money or places where this may be the first computer someone owns and the specs are more than enough for their needs.

I may never use one of these low spec devices, but I would give one to my kids and not worry if they broke it.

silzazsyh said,

Who cares, anyway? You can get a 64gb mSD card for $30.


And use it on all those device that has slots... All 3 of them... Devices without removable batteries, or sd slots are also in part caused by people paying more and more for less. I really just do not want to get anything til old features improve instead of new features being pointlessly tacked on.

Its almost at the point where these devices are maxed in term of hardware features, so soon base specs will HAVE to be boosted.