The ability to install Windows on ReFS may become exclusive to Windows 12

As you may remember, Microsoft has added a hidden option to install Windows 11 on ReFS. The OS installer could support formatting new partitions to ReFS and use such a partition to boot from. It was a feature of the Dev channel builds. However, after rebooting the Insider program, everything has been scrapped from the Dev channel and moved to Canary builds.

ReFS with drive format in Windows 11 installer

What is ReFS

ReFS stands for Resilient File System. Codenamed "Protogon", it improves on NTFS in some area, while also removing a huge number of features. It was first introduced in Windows 8 and its server counterparts. ReFS is focused on data integrity, availability, and scalability. It is protected from common errors the classic filesystems have by using data streams that it uses to verify and repair the files. It does all the checks online, so it doesn't require offline disk checks, as per Microsoft.


Starting in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft has removed the ability to format drives to ReFS from consumer versions of the OS. It remained exclusive to "workstation pro" and Enterprise editions.

ReFS support in Windows 11

Windows 11 Build 25281 was the first build where support ReFS as a target file system for the system drive has been discovered. It was a hidden feature. By that time, it only allowed the user to install itself on a partition formatted in advance. It had no option to format the drive with the setup program. Later, Build 25284 received several improvements in this direction, including the ability to format the partition to ReFS and directly install the OS there.

ReFS and Windows 12

While Microsoft claims that both Dev and Canary channels may have features that will never reach production versions of the OS, the fact that ReFS supported disappeared from the Dev channel may indicate that Microsoft is not going to add native ReFS support to the Windows 11 setup program.

Instead, it will most likely appear in its successor, that is currently unofficially referred as "Windows 12".

There are no much info on Windows 12 as of this writing. Microsoft has never used the "Windows 12" name officially, despite a few leaks from company's partners where the upcoming OS is referred like that.

If you want to try to install Windows on a ReFS drive, you need to be running Windows 11 Build 25314 Canary. Follow carefully the step listed in this guide: Enable ReFS with drive format in Windows 11 installer.

Microsoft says the upcoming major version of Windows will be powered by tight AI integration everywhere. Similar to Bing with ChatGPT, the operating system may get AI-powered assistance for local features and search.

H/t to @XenoPartner

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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