Solid state drives (SSDs) are generally regarded as expensive storage options for portable devices and computers. But as Microsoft pushes Windows 8 to the mainstream market, so will SSDs also rise as a mainstream consumer product, says industry observers.

An analyst from IHS iSuppli predicts that the rising popularity of Windows 8 will help drive demand for SSDs, and 2013 can actually be the year for the SSD, reports Cnet. “The newest wave of ultrabooks loaded with Windows 8 has started to generate enthusiasm,” wrote Ryan Chien, memory and storage analyst at IHS in a research note. With this trend, the market for SSDs is likely to double within the year, rising from 39 million units in 2012 to 83 million this year. IHS predicts that this will rise to 239 million by 2016.

Rising demand from mobile devices like ultra-thin notebooks, tablets and hybrids will likely halve the price point for solid state technologies. “[The] average selling prices for NAND flash memory have come down, in the process establishing new price expectations [and] an increasing number of PC manufacturers…are now more willing to install the once-costly drives into computers,” Chien added.

SSDs offer faster read and write access compared with traditional hard drives with spinning discs. Their solid state nature also improves durability and resistance to shocks and movement, which portable devices are prone to. However, the current disadvantage is price, which means mainstream devices are limited to SSD sizes of 64, 128 or 256 Gb to maintain a low price point. It helps, however, that manufacturers are already releasing higher-capacity SSDs at reasonable prices, such as Micron’s 1TB SSD, which costs US$600.

SSDs are already a mainstay in devices like the Apple MacBook Air and Apple’s latest Retina-display MacBook Pro line. However, IHS predicts that “[t]he fate of the SSD business is closely tied to the market for Ultrabooks and other ultrathin PCs,” which include devices that run Microsoft’s latest Windows 8 operating system.