Over the last two years since the release of Windows 10 we have learned a lot about the concept of OneCore for Microsoft's flagship operating system.
OneCore is just like it sounds - the single core of code that all variations of Windows 10 is based on - it is common code that is shared across the entire Windows 10 ecosystem and then they are tooled for their intended use/audience.
Initially it seemed like Microsoft was trying to minimize the number of versions that they had with a focus on IoT, Mobile, and PCs however, over the course of the last two years the list of SKUs (stock keeping unit) for Windows 10 has continued to expand.
With the release of Windows 10 Pro for Workstations this week there are now 10 SKUs by my count.
Lets run down that list:
-- Windows 10 Home
-- Windows 10 Enterprise
-- Windows 10 Education
-- Windows 10 IoT
-- Windows 10 Mobile
-- Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise
-- Windows 10 Pro
-- Windows 10 Pro for Business
-- Windows 10 Pro for Workstations
-- Windows 10 S
Three of those, the last three on that list, have all been added in 2017.
Windows 10 Pro for Business is part of the new Microsoft 365 subscriptions announced at Inspire a few weeks ago, Windows 10 S was announced in April and ships on the high end Surface Laptop and is also being used by OEMs on low to mid-range devices targeting education users.
So what about Windows 10 Pro for Workstations? What style of users and hardware is it intended for?
According to Microsoft this version of Windows 10 adds capabilities for power users and high end hardware.
"Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is a high-end edition of Windows 10 Pro, comes with unique support for server grade PC hardware and is designed to meet demanding needs of mission critical and compute intensive workloads."
They intend to ship this new version of Windows 10 when the upcoming Fall Creators Update is released in the September/October timeframe.
In their announcement about this new version of Windows 10, Microsoft laid out the four key areas that this version of Pro differs from the standard version of Windows 10 Pro:
-- ReFS (Resilient file system): ReFS provides cloud-grade resiliency for data on fault-tolerant storage spaces and manages very large volumes with ease. ReFS is designed to be resilient to data corruption, optimized for handling large data volumes, auto-correcting and more. It protects your data with integrity streams on your mirrored storage spaces. Using its integrity streams, ReFS detects when data becomes corrupt on one of the mirrored drives and uses a healthy copy of your data on the other drive to correct and protect your precious data.
-- Persistent memory: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations provides the most demanding apps and data with the performance they require with non-volatile memory modules (NVDIMM-N) hardware. NVDIMM-N enables you to read and write your files with the fastest speed possible, the speed of the computer’s main memory. Because NVDIMM-N is non-volatile memory, your files will still be there, even when you switch your workstation off.
-- Faster file sharing: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations includes a feature called SMB Direct, which supports the use of network adapters that have Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capability. Network adapters that have RDMA can function at full speed with very low latency, while using very little CPU. For applications that access large datasets on remote SMB file shares, this feature enables:
-- Increased throughput: Leverages the full throughput of high speed networks where the network adapters coordinate the transfer of large amounts of data at line speed.
-- Low latency: Provides extremely fast responses to network requests, and, as a result, makes remote file storage feel as if it is directly attached storage.
-- Low CPU utilization: Uses fewer CPU cycles when transferring data over the network, which leaves more power available to other applications running on the system.
-- Expanded hardware support: One of the top pain points expressed by our Windows Insiders was the limits on taking advantage of the raw power of their machine. Hence, we are expanding hardware support in Windows 10 Pro for Workstations. Users will now be able to run Windows 10 Pro for Workstations on devices with high performance configurations including server grade Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processors, with up to 4 CPUs (today limited to 2 CPUs) and add massive memory up to 6TB (today limited to 2TB).
There is no information specific to cost or licensing for Windows 10 Pro for Workstations and I would expect that will be released prior to its availability.