New edition of Windows 10 to take on big data

Microsoft revealed plans to release a new edition of Windows 10 that can optimize PCs to deal with intensive data workloads. That could be a big help to companies that rely on machine learning data and more.

Organizations need a way to handle large amounts of data due to emerging technologies, and they may soon get it with a new edition of Windows 10.

Microsoft accidentally revealed plans for the version, dubbed Windows 10 Pro for Workstation, in a recent Insider build. It includes features designed to take advantage of a high-end PC's existing computing power to handle large volumes and intensive workloads of data. The amount of data organizations use every day is always increasing, and it will continue to do so with technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) on the rise.

"A large data boom is coming," said Willem Bagchus, a messaging and collaboration specialist at United Bank Inc., based in Parkersburg, W.Va. "Between all the user information we're aggregating and tracking information we have, and [internet of things] and AR and VR, we have more data than we've ever had before. For Microsoft to do this, it's extraordinarily beneficial."

United Bank plans to migrate to Windows 10 by 2019, and Bagchus said he believes this Workstation OS could help the company process its high volumes of financial data.

What's in Workstation?

According to a leaked Microsoft slide, Windows 10 Pro for Workstation has a feature called Workstation mode that optimizes the processing power of PCs to handle demanding workloads, such as highly intensive graphics rendering or high-volume data transfers. The build release didn't reveal the technical details, or if other operations on the PC would be tempered or not accessible during this mode.

It's possible that when the PC is in Workstation mode, it might not be able to run certain features or functions as well as it normally would, said Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates LLC in Northborough, Mass. It might also temporarily stop operations that run in the background of Windows 10, such as automatic updates and sending user information back to Microsoft, Gold said.

The new edition of Windows 10 will also feature the Server Message Block Direct protocol, which offers faster file transferring of high volumes of data from PC to PC in low-latency environments, without putting much strain on the CPU.

The OS also uses Microsoft's Resilient File System, new last year, which offers fault tolerance and auto-correcting when there is a lag or error in a file transfer. By preventing file-transfer issues of large amounts of data, ReFS is designed to allow for file transfers to happen faster.

Getting ahead of emerging technologies

The new edition of Windows 10 would provide organizations with features they will need down the road to handle data from emerging technologies that will be in every workplace, Gold said.

"AR and VR and these new technologies will drive even more data," Gold said. "Think about the data behind [Apple's] Siri or Google Home -- it is monstrous amounts of data."

With digital transformation, there is so much data needed to be processed. It is good Microsoft is thinking this way.
Zeus Kerravalafounder and principal analyst at ZK Research

A common problem many organizations face today is they have so much data, they don't know what to do with it all, requiring data analytics, AI and machine learning technologies to gather that data and handle its processing, said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research in Westminster, Mass.

"This is definitely a step in the right direction," Kerravala said. "With digital transformation, there is so much data needed to be processed. It is good Microsoft is thinking this way."

Accidental update causes problems

Windows Insiders who received the leaked build update on June 1 faced some problems around malfunctioning devices. Windows 10 Mobile smartphones were stuck in a reboot loop, and users had to use the Windows Recovery Tool to access their devices again. PC users who received the update will notice it "impacts usability," and they can wait for Microsoft to release a new build or roll back to the previous build through their system settings, Microsoft said. The company apologized for the issue in a blog post.

These types of issues can occur with beta testers, Kerravala said.

"That's part of what they signed up for," he said. "That's some of the risk of being an Insider."

Next Steps

How AI technology will reshape the workplace

Will AI bring more data privacy issues to Windows 10?

A deep dive into the big data boom insights

Dig Deeper on Patches, alerts and critical updates