Despite the release of Windows 7, there are still many users out there who are clinging on desperately to Windows XP. Now it seems that it may not be Microsoft who will force users to ditch the venerable OS, rather hard drive manufacturers. A recent report indicates that manufacturers are looking to move away from the ancient 512 byte sector size, which has been around for ages now, to a 4K sector size. By doing so, they’ll be able to offer about 7-11% more data on the disk, as there is less wasted space where data cannot be stored due to the area dedicated to storing error codes.
Modern operating systems such as Windows 7, Vista, OS X Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard and all versions of the Linux kernel released after September 2009 are 4K aware, so there shouldn’t be a problem, but for operating systems older than that, it might be an issue. Advanced format drives should still be able to cope with Windows XP via emulation, but despite there being a minimal performance hit when reading from the drive, it’s possible that there might be a 10% performance dip when data is being written. So it looks like XP has taken another small step to that big operating system heaven in the sky.