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I have quite fresh Windows 8 installation now and Windows folder takes 20 GB. It was pretty much the same for Windows 7 and Vista. Why is that? I mean it's not like Windows uses many media files or something like that... Also if you compare it to common Linux distributions or Windows XP both of which are fully functional OS-es that take up to few gigabytes it looks pretty weird...

What's inside this Windows folder that takes so much space?

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closed as not constructive by Karan, Brad Patton, Tog, Breakthrough, Dave Jun 7 '13 at 10:19

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Vista was ~15, 7 was ~10 GB... 8 should be closer to 7's size... So what else are you installing? All the games and extra features too? – AthomSfere Jun 6 '13 at 17:13
Well, I have VS express installed which probably takes some space but still, it definitely was above 15 GB right after Windows installation. – mrpyo Jun 6 '13 at 17:20
VS express by itself would easily account for that difference. – David Jun 6 '13 at 17:24
Windows has a lot of features that can be turned on without even being connected to the internet. A 20GB operating system is not that bad. Windows XP wasn't "a few GBs" and I don't know any of the mainstream Linux distributions that are under 15GB. Besides this question was asked 5 years ago and it was answered:… – Ramhound Jun 6 '13 at 17:29
@Ramhound XP pre SPs was 2GB installed. – AthomSfere Jun 6 '13 at 17:38

I think a key here is that Microsoft and Linux are very, very different.

Linux for example, on average wants to be small, fast and for those who like Unix like OSes. If you want a decent word editor, you install it. Distros like DSL and Puppy are perfect examples.

Windows is the opposite. In Windows it is the choice of the majority and it is everywhere. Most people have no clue how it works, but it needs to work out of the box or at least be easy to enable and install. Internet Explorer for example, on a Windows 7 install can easily be uninstalled or not installed with a clean image in some countries. But to install it all you have to do is go to appwiz.cpl, add features and install IE. Those files are already there, just not extracted to a directory where IE can be run. Add in 20+ years of backwards compatibility that Windows has out of the box, and all the current cool-bits and eye candy such as a 3D desktop (Aero), and it really adds up.

There is also the MS only stuff that is expected in a Windows install, DirectX, .NET libraries.

I think if you compared other OSes that tried to be this complete, you would see similar install sizes. Ubuntu for example is not much smaller than a base 7 install. I believe Ubuntu x64 6-8GB on the drive from the install is about standard (I might be slightly off here).

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Considering you were talking about many OS's here, I think this is very unbiased, balanced answer. +1 – Dave Jun 7 '13 at 10:18

Windows 7 and Windows 8 contain a copy of all the binaries necessary to install any new feature which is present in any edition of that OS. Even if you have Windows 7 Starter Edition, you can just install an upgrade key and without an internet connection or Windows CD, your OS will install all features present in Windows 7 Ultimate.

Same thing happens with Visual Studio 2012 and Adobe Reader etc(Here only the binaries required for repair are stored). This leads to bloat but the assumption here is that hard disk space is cheap. So for user convenience, hard disk space is sacrificed.

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It can lead to bloat but most of that bloat are features that customers want like native Git Support in VS2013 that support add additional storage requirements. I use that example because there is already a Microsoft add-on that also takes up storage space and was a good example of a feature that people requested ( and even spent a great deal of money on ) to implement themselfs. – Ramhound Jun 7 '13 at 12:01

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