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Bootable Windows on ReFS still not ready for prime time due to lack of wider compatibility

Windows 2024

Back in 2011-12, when Microsoft launched Windows 8, the company also introduced a new file system dubbed Resilient File System or ReFS. Compared to New Technology File System or NTFS, ReFS promised more resiliency, more performance, like on virtual machines (VMs), and higher data size support (up to 35PB vs 256TB on NTFS), among other benefits.

However, so far, the next-gen file system was limited to Windows Server only. In fact, if you recall, Microsoft limited ReFS support to only professional and enterprise-based Windows 10 SKUs back in 2017. Fast forward to 2023 though, things had been looking up in terms of ReFS support on client OS systems.

Almost exactly a year ago, Windows enthusiasts began noticing that Microsoft was working to enable bootable Windows on ReFS volumes. Although the feature was hidden at that time inside Canary channel builds, users could force-enable it via something like ViVeTool and go on to install Windows 11 on a Resilient File System drive.

As the year went on, some more progress was made. In March, the company updated the ReFS version 3.9 to a newer version, 3.10. So far though, only clean Windows 11 installs were possible, but that changed with another Canary build that made in-place upgrades possible before which, it would fail on attempting one.

That was back in August and since then, there has not been anything too noteworthy in terms of Windows bootability support on ReFS. Meanwhile, Microsoft has also not updated the officially supported ReFS version up from 3.10 yet, and as such, trying to run Windows on any newer ReFS version leads to an immediate crash on the newest Canary build 26040. Apparently, the crash is worse than it was on previous builds as it now throws up no recovery messages either.

The above was found when testing ReFS version 3.12 which suggests that Resilient File System compatibility still needs more work before it can hit the general public. Perhaps we will eventually get there with Windows 11 24H2 or maybe the next Windows version.

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