A change in hard drive format may force Windows XP users to upgrade to Windows 7.
An article provided by BBC News paints a rather grim picture for Windows XP consumers. It may seem that those still clinging to the fear that Windows 7 will eventually pan out to be another Windows Vista may have no choice but to take the upgrade plunge thanks to the evolution of the hard drive. This won't mean an early death of XP by any means, but more of a performance hit despite other system specs.
Here's how it will work: most hard drives sold in late 2011 may use an advanced format that will make it easier for hard drive manufacturers to produce bigger drives while making them more reliable and less power hungry. Of course, this is a good thing. Bigger games, bigger software, and our addiction to downloadable media means that hard drives need to keep up with the times. Unfortunately, this is where Windows XP comes crashing down in flames.
Current drives are formatted into blocks of 512 bytes in size--this has been standard since the days DOS ruled PCs. By the end of 2011, all new hard drives will be formatted into blocks of 4K in size. Windows XP doesn't know how to handle sectors of that magnitude. To resolve the conflict, the new drives will have the ability to "pretend" they still use sectors 512 bytes in size. Reading data via the emulation isn't expected to be a problem: it's the data writing that may impact performance.
"All other things being equal you will have a noticeable hard drive reduction in performance," said David Burks, a product marketing manager for storage firm Seagate. He also added that it could make a drive 10-percent slower in some circumstances.
With that said, Windows XP users may have some decision-making to do next year if their current drives fail: purchase a new drive and suffer a reduction in performance via Windows XP, or purchase the new drive and a fresh copy of Windows 7.