Leak Suggests Windows 10 Pro Edition for Workstations in the Works

Last week's inadvertent release of an internal Windows 10 build appears to have unmasked an upcoming edition of the OS for high-end workstations.

Windows 10

A mistake on Microsoft's part may have revealed the existence of an upcoming edition of Windows 10 Pro aimed at workstations stuffed with high-end components to handling compute-intensive applications.

Last Thursday, the software giant unintentionally released some internal builds of the Windows 10 operating system to the Windows Insider early access program. "This happened because an inadvertent deployment to the engineering system that controls which builds/which rings to push out to insiders," explained Dona Sarkar, a software engineer in Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, in a late-day June 1 blog post. "The team was quick to revert the deployment and put blocks in place to stop these builds from going out to more people."

But Microsoft wasn't quick enough to stop some folks from digging into system software's configuration files and uncovering some surprising new SKUs (stock keeping units).

Over the weekend, Twitter user Lakshmi 'Tito' Ullu‏ (@AndItsTito) discovered references to "Windows 10 Pro for Advanced PCs" along with additional labeling suggesting Microsoft is targeting high-end workstations. Meant to tackle resource intensive computing workloads like 3D modeling, workstations are generally stuffed with higher-quality components, including powerful processors, high-end graphics cards as well as more memory and data storage than is typically found in the average desktop PC.

Another Twitter user, TheGrandMofongo‏ (@GrandMofongo), chimed in with what appears to be a leaked presentation from Microsoft introducing Windows 10 Pro for Workstation PCs. The name serves as a placeholder until the company makes an official announcement. One of the slides, marked confidential, describes the operating system as an edition of Windows that offers "unique support for server grade hardware and designed to meet [the] demanding needs of mission critical and compute intensive workloads."

Microsoft, In the meantime, is remaining tight-lipped after the purported leaks. "We have nothing to share," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK via email.

According to the leaked documents, the new operating system supports up to four CPUs (up from a maximum of two CPUs currently) and 6TB of system memory and includes a new Workstation mode for demanding workloads that can be enabled on high-end PCs with multi-core server processors. It also borrows Windows Server's SMB Direct feature, an extension of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol that uses the Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capabilities of compatible network adapters to enable faster, lower-latency file transfers.

Finally, Windows 10 for workstations uses ReFS (Resilient File System) for improved data storage and management.

"ReFS is the successor of NTFS [New Technology File System], which has been a mainstay of Windows for [the] past several years. We were overdue for a file system innovation, and our Windows Insiders also agreed. ReFS is designed for fault-tolerance [and] optimized for handling large data volume [s]," stated the leaked presentation. Additionally, ReFS offers auto-correcting capabilities and is backward compatible with NTFS.

The documents also suggest that Microsoft senses an opportunity in the high-end workstation market and is working on additional capabilities after gathering feedback from Windows Insiders and its technology partners.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...