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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Windows 11 updates: booting with Rust, ReFS instead of NTFS file system

Microsoft is getting ready to upgrade the default file system in Windows 11 to a more secure and efficient version. Two new features, using ReFS as the default file system rather than NTSF, are currently being developed independently by the tech giant’s developers.

Microsoft is working on incorporating Rust into the kernel of Windows 11 in order to improve its security features. As as Wired explains it, Rust, like languages like Java, is known for its resistance to injection attacks and its memory safety. Its purpose is to stop malicious software from gaining access to sensitive information stored in computer memory.

The BlueHat IL 2023 conference will feature,Dr. David Weston, Microsoft’s Vice President of Enterprise and OS Security confirmed Microsoft’s intention to use Rust in Windows 11’s core operating system code. The executive claims that the time for Windows and Rust integration is now.

Windows 11 Rust
Picture Provided by Microsoft

Some of the kernel code in Windows 11 preview will be rewritten in Rust, and Microsoft plans to release a version with this change. Right now, we’re focusing on making sure everything works together and runs smoothly. Some internal C data types will be converted to their Rust counterparts as part of this process.

“Therewill soon be available as an Insider preview [updae], allowing you to boot Windows with rust in the kernel.likely within the next few weeks or months,” he speculated.

Standard Rust APIs are easier to write and understand than their C counterparts, and Microsoft has made great strides by adopting them, such as with the Vec and Result APIs.

However, there has been no discernible slowdown in performance of Office apps thanks to the ported code, as measured by PCMark 10.

More try_ methods for Vec that don’t panic on OOM are just one example of how upstream changes in the language have been prompted by Rust’s incorporation. Despite the persistence of numerous “unsafe” code calls to extern functions, the proportion of unsafe code blocks and functions is decreasing as more code is ported.

To improve Windows’ memory security, “Rust can’t and won’t be the only solution.” I highly recommend this paper that compares and contrasts several CPU-based Methods based on memory tags and the value they provide relative to the risks they pose,” David Weston said.

It is hoped that by incorporating Rust into the Windows 11 kernel, the operating system will be made more secure, easier to maintain, and more amenable to tooling and performance enhancements.

ReFS as the default file system

Here’s a twist: found in the Windows 11 release candidate, which seeks to make ReFS the default file system instead of NTFS for fresh installs.

Microsoft developed Resilient File System (ReFS) to succeed NTFS, but it was incompatible with Windows 11 Home and Pro editions. For the uninitiated, the advantages of ReFS over NTFS include the ability to accommodate unforeseen storage requirements and the management of large volumes or storage pools.

Windows 11 may soon switch from the NTFS to the Resilient File System ReFS on new installations due to its superior corruption resiliency.

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