Most Windows 11 preview builds focus on adding features, but sometimes Microsoft uses them to remove things. Users installing the latest Windows 11 Home Insider builds will find that support for version 1.0 of the venerable SMB file-sharing protocol is now disabled by default, something that may break file-sharing for older networked storage equipment. A post by Microsoft program manager Ned Pyle details the reasoning behind the change and how it will affect users.
Microsoft had already disabled SMB1 by default in other editions of Windows. The SMB1 server service was removed from all Windows versions starting in 2017, and the client service was disabled in Windows 10 Pro editions starting in 2018. Pyle writes that the client in the Home editions of Windows came last since it will “cause consumer pain among folks who are still running very old equipment, a group that’s the least likely to understand why their new Windows 11 laptop can’t connect to their old networked hard drive.”
SMB1 has long since been replaced with newer and more secure versions of the protocol; SMB2 was introduced in 2007, and version 3.1.1 was added to Windows 10 in 2016. But the original is still occasionally used by old servers and equipment—and if a machine is old enough to rely on SMB1, it’s probably old enough that no one is interested in maintaining or upgrading it.
For now, the SMB1 feature can still be installed manually by users and system administrators who need it, and if you’re using SMB1 on a PC that you’re upgrading to Windows 11, the upgrade won’t disable the feature. The next phase of the transition will go one step further, completely removing DLL files and drivers needed for SMB1 support from the OS. The company “will provide an out-of-band unsupported install package for organizations or users that still need SMB1 to connect to old factory machinery, medical gear, consumer NAS, etc.,” writes Pyle.
Listing image by Old Windows Icons/Andrew Cunningham