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Microsoft totters from time machine clutching Windows 10 Workstation

It's 1994 all over again, it seems

It looks like the 1990s are back in fashion: Microsoft is, it seems, preparing another flavor of Windows 10 – the tentatively named Windows 10 Pro for Workstations.

We can't help but be reminded of the Windows NT Workstation era in the early 1990s – the branding Microsoft used to distance Windows for beefy work PCs from Windows for your home computer.

Last week, Redmond apologized for accidentally emitting broken internal builds of its operating system to beta testers on the Windows Insider program. Those builds included references to new variants of Windows: a Windows Server 2016, and two forms of Windows 10 Pro for Advanced PCs – one normal and the other to comply with EU requirements.

Microsoft hasn't quite decided on the final name for those last two: Windows 10 Pro for Advanced PCs is, we're told, an alternative moniker for Windows 10 Pro for Workstation PCs, which on Monday was detailed in leaked internal slides. These slides appear to be notes to marketing staff, are marked confidential and under NDA, and presumably made their way onto Twitter after being shared with Microsoft's partners.

It appears Workstations is designed for hefty machines that linger in the no man's land between top-end desktop PCs and low to mid-range servers. It will initially run on machines with up to four physical CPUs, whereas Windows 10 right now supports one or two physical processors, and up to 6TB of RAM versus today's 2TB limit. From October 1, this year, "tier 1" Workstation installations will work with up to four Intel Xeon or AMD Operton processors, and "tier 2" will support more than four, we're told.

The Workstations build will also have full support for Redmond's Resilient File System (ReFS), introduced in Server 2012 – and in a limited form in Windows 8.1 – to replace NTFS that Microsoft has used since Windows NT 3.1, well back in the day.

"We were overdue for a file system innovation, and our Windows Insiders also agreed," the poorly written notes accompanying the slide state. "ReFS is designed for fault tolerance, optimized for handling large data volume, auto-correcting and much more, at the same time backward compatible with NTFS."

The ReFS system mentioned will be the full server edition, and is backed up by faster file sharing using SMBDirect, which allows the use of network adapters that have remote direct memory access (RDMA) capability. That offloads some of the processor power need for big file shares across the network.

All in all, it's a far cry from the last Windows build Microsoft dubbed "workstation" – Windows NT 3.5 to 4.0 in the 1990s. Those builds were popular with admins and power users who weren't interested in flimsy Windows 3, 95 and 98, and some at Microsoft might remember those days fondly.

"We have nothing to share," a Microsoft spokesperson told The Register with reference to the leaked info. ®

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