Though it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference, each new Feature Upgrade for Windows 10 has been steadily increasing minimum hardware requirements. When the Windows 10 May 2019 Update comes along — next month, hopefully — it will bring increased minimum storage requirements that will affect low-end devices (primarily tablets). Up through and including 1809, 32-bit versions of Win10 had a 16 GB minimum storage requirement; 64-bit versions bumped that to 20 GB. But with 1903 aka Windows 10 May 2019 Update, that minimum jumps to 32 GB for both 32- and 64-bit versions of the desktop OS.
Right now, you can still buy this 10.1″ tablet on Amazon for just over US$140. Question is: Do you really want to?
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Why Up the Minimumum Win10 Storage Requirement?
If the traffic on TenForums is any guide (and I firmly believe that it is), those who purchase low-end Win10 devices (tablets, almost exclusively) with only 16 or 20 GB have encountered difficulties in handling updates and upgrades even on prior versions. Lots of contortions prove necessary to free up enough room to handle new OS changes and versions, even with those older storage minima. With each new feature upgrade, war stories get more interesting from those who survive that experience. It could just be that MS is trying to do users a service, by making it more difficult for those who buy at the bottom of the market to shoot themselves in the feet as updates and upgrades keep coming. Certainly, with Win10 routinely reserving around 7 GB for upgrades going forward (see this Storage at Microsoft note from January 7, 2019 for details), it makes sense to up the minimum storage requirement in general, if only to make room for this OS-oriented “storage grab.”
I just poked around on Amazon a bit, and you can still buy at least half-a-dozen different models with 16 GB of SSD among other features. That said, the vast majority of Windows 10 tablets (both 32- and 64-bit varieties) offer 32 or 64 GB of storage nowadays, instead of only 16 GB. To me this is further demonstration that MS is mostly aiming at owners of older low-end devices and letting them know that their upgrade path to 1903 and beyond is not happening. If you look at TopTenReviews interesting story “The 10 Best Cheap Windows Tablets You Can Choose in 2019” (January 3, 2019) none of their choices offers less than 32 GB of storage; most offer 64 GB (only a few go higher, though).
But if you’re the proud or baffled owner of a Windows 10 tablet with 16 or 20 GB of storage, you’d best starting thinking about installing Linux on that device instead. Or planning to stay with 1809 as long as it’s supported, and then making the switch around that time. Looks like you won’t be upgrading such devices to Windows 10 1903/May 2019 Update (or newer subsequent versions).
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.