AFTER BEING CRITICISED over the lack of available storage on its Surface tablets, Microsoft has announced a tool to try to redress the problem.
Wimboot creates extra space on devices by virtualising the installation of certain apps to a compressed "WIM" folder on a hidden partition, leaving only a shortcut in the usable part of the drive.
Microsoft quietly introduced the tool in Windows 8.1 which arrived earier in the month. It echoes a similar innovation in Microsoft's Cloud service Onedrive, whereby large files are linked to the desktop as shortcuts only.
If Wimboot sounds too good to be true, it's probably because there is a catch. Because using Wimboot involves the computer reactively rooting around in compressed drives, it inevitably will have an impact on performance.
The good news is that if you are running a device with solid-state disk (SSD) storage, the performance impact will be negligible and, for the amount of storage you gain, it will almost certainly be worth it. However if you're using a desktop machine with a hard disk drive (HDD), you are going to want to give this one a wide berth. After all, an HDD will probably have enoughh storage for you anyway.
In a blog post announcing Wimboot, Microsoft claimed that it can reduce the size of the Windows operating system footprint from 7GB to 3GB, and on a machine with 16GB of internal storage, that's a big savings.
The system relies on the UEFI boot system in Windows 8, so the chance of it reaching Windows 7 users is practically zero, but Microsoft has promised that devices will be released in the coming months that will have Wimboot enabled by default. µ