With Windows 11’s release just over a month away, a lot of you may be wondering about the eligibility and requirements that your computer may need to be able to upgrade to or install Windows 11 on October 5th.
Some of the major new features coming to Windows 11 include a redesigned interface, Android app integration as well as technology being brought over from Xbox to give Windows Auto HDR as well as DirectStorage to improve the experience of gaming on Windows. There’s much more than just those few features but those are some of the major features that you may first notice.
Things have changed
As with most operating system releases, the goalposts for system requirements have changed with Windows 11, this means that, unfortunately, not all computers that are able to run Windows 10 will be able to run Windows 11. This may be due to outdated hardware or components, or components not being up to scratch with Microsoft’s security requirements for Windows 11 – this in particular results in some significant system requirement changes.
I’m personally affected by some of these changes as my computer, despite its ability to pack a punch and handle editing 4K video just fine, features hardware that does not meet the system requirements for Windows 11 and is therefore ineligible for the free upgrade from Windows 10. It’s not all doom and gloom though, Windows 10 will continue to be supported by Microsoft until October 14th 2025 – which does give me a few more years out of my current hardware and Windows 10 will have been around for over 10 years at that point.
It’s probably not a great idea to use Windows 10 beyond its 2025 end of life date as it will no longer receive Windows security updates, but if you really don’t want to part with your computer by then you could look at installing a Linux OS or Chrome OS using Neverware. Anyways, less about that, let’s talk about the Windows 11 system requirements, what they are and what that means for you.
As far as supported processors go, it’s only the last few years or so of processors that are actually supported. I think that this has been the biggest blow for most Windows enthusiasts as processors that support both the Secure Boot and TPM requirements that I will talk about in a moment are shunned away because their processor is a little older. The general consensus is that only computers with Intel 8th-generation and AMD Zen+ or newer processors will be supported, there are a couple of exceptions for specific hardware such as the Intel Core 7820HQ found in the Surface Studio 2 and Microsoft has a full list of supported processors which you can double-check yours against if you want to be sure.
Enhancing security is also a large focus of Windows 11, with Secure Boot and TPM 2.0 being minimum requirements to run the operating system. Both of these have been appearing more commonly on computers made in the last few years, so it is likely that your computer may already have this as some of the technologies within Windows 10 have already made use of these.
Secure Boot is a security standard developed by PC manufacturers and developers to ensure that your computer boots to software trusted by the motherboard or computer OEM. This helps prevent your computer from booting to the operating system when it has detected a boot loader that has been tampered with or vital OS files, protecting your computer from malicious software and attacks.
TPM is a chip on your motherboard, integrated into your processor or sometimes a hardware add-on for your motherboard to handle cryptographic keys for encryption, authentication and other security purposes such as disk encryption. If your computer is older, it may feature TPM 1.2 which is unfortunately not supported by Windows 11 or no TPM at all. If your computer was made after 2016, it should support TPM 2.0 but is worth double-checking – but it would still need to meet the previous requirements I’ve talked about.
The settings for Secure Boot and TPM can be found within your system or motherboard BIOS and can usually be found under the boot and security tabs, however, this can vary depending on a manufacturer basis so it’s worth having a read of the documentation or watching a tutorial specific to your motherboard or computer manufacturer to find the correct settings. Secure Boot should be called as such, but TPM can sometimes be referred to using different terms, such as fTPM on AMD systems. Both of these will need to be enabled for your computer to run Windows 11.
The easiest way to check if your computer has the all-clear and meets the requirements to run Windows 11 is to run the PC Health Check app, this is easy to download and install and will let you know if any specific issues prevent your computer from upgrading to Windows 11 or if there are any hardware settings you need to adjust.
Are there ways around it?
You’re probably wondering, well can’t I just install Windows 11 anyway? The answer is a mix of yes and no. You can bypass all these measures by installing Windows 11 using the ISO and writing it to a USB, this is intended for users such as businesses to test Windows 11 within their environments before purchasing new hardware or upgrading hundreds of systems. I would be hesitant around doing this as Microsoft would not guarantee Windows 11 security and software updates for your system as you are running unsupported hardware which could leave you vulnerable.
How extreme Microsoft is to this approach, we are yet to see as Windows 11 is yet to be fully released – but I will personally be sticking with Windows 10 for the time being to at least see how Microsoft treats Windows 11 systems running on unsupported hardware that does not meet the minimum hardware requirements. This is further shown by Microsoft emailing Windows 11 insiders that have been testing the OS on unsupported hardware, advising them to downgrade and perform a clean install of Windows 10.
A significant number of users will be left behind due to Windows 11’s new minimum system requirements, myself included, but hopefully, this video has been useful at shedding some light on what you’ll need to be able to run the OS when it releases at the start of October. It’s good to see that Windows 10 will still see 4 more years of support for those users who are unable to upgrade, but it’s going to be a shame to miss out on those new features.