Windows 11 Is Dropping Some Of Its System Requirements, For Now

Windows 11 Is Dropping Some Of Its System Requirements, For Now
Image: Microsoft

The Can I Upgrade To Windows 11 saga has gotten a little murkier. After initially revealing that a ton of 7th-gen Intel and first-gen AMD Ryzen owners would be excluded from the future of Windows, a new blog post from Microsoft says that … actually, you’re fine for now.

The bizarre confusion, which seems wholly unnecessary given those CPUs are still very good today and not even 5 years old, was outlined in a post titled “Update on Windows 11 minimum system requirements”. In it, Microsoft acknowledged that they could have offered more clarity on what Windows 11 does and doesn’t support.

“The intention of today’s post is to acknowledge and clarify the confusion caused by our PC Health Check tool, share more details as to why we updated the system requirements for Windows 11 and set the path for how we will learn and adjust,” Microsoft wrote. “We need a minimum system requirement that enables us to adapt software and hardware to keep pace with people’s expectations, needs and harness the true value and power of the PC to deliver the best experiences, now and in the future.”

Which, fair enough. The only problem with that is that their minimum system requirements arbitrarily cut out a lot of PCs and laptops (but mostly desktops, in this instance) that are more than capable of running Windows 11. Not just because of their raw clock speeds, but because they also have the inbuilt security support that Microsoft’s supposedly looking for.

Putting that aside for a moment, the arbitrary exclusions also run counter to Microsoft’s ecological initiatives. As this blog post from system admin Noah Bailey notes, Microsoft’s initial announcement has the natural consequence of forcing at least hundreds of thousands of users, if not millions, to replace their laptops, creating a massive carbon footprint in the process:

A modest Intel Skylake laptop from 2016 meets all the core requirements. It is 64 bit, supports UEFI, and even contains a hardware TPM 2.0 module on board. Practically nothing has changed in five years when it comes to PCs and laptops, aside from power consumption and battery life. And if Microsoft gets their way, that machine is going straight in the trash.

“Encouraging people to purchase new computers right now is irresponsible,” Bailey argued. “There will absolutely be a “boom” in semiconductor manufacturing in a year or two, but now is not the time for this.”

So to clear up the confusion, and quell some of the outrage in the process, Microsoft has announced that it’s temporarily dropping the trusted platform module (TPM) and CPU compatibility limitations for the Windows 11 build that’s just rolled out to the Insider branch this week.

In support of the Windows 11 system requirements, we’ve set the bar for previewing in our Windows Insider Program to match the minimum system requirements for Windows 11, with the exception for TPM 2.0 and CPU family/model.By providing preview builds to the diverse systems in our Windows Insider Program, we will learn how Windows 11 performs across CPU models more comprehensively, informing any adjustments we should make to our minimum system requirements in the future.

Or put another way: if enough people run Windows 11 on their Ryzen 1600X/old 7700K Intel gaming PC and everything is just fine, I guess we’ll just let those PCs continue using Windows 11?

How we got here is a bit strange, but the about face is at least a sensible practical measure for Microsoft. Last week’s announcement was immediately marred by confusion and a PC Health Checker app that raised more questions than answers. The app did at least get an initial update, providing more clarity on precisely why it didn’t think a user’s system would be capable of running Windows 11. But even that’s been scrapped for now: Microsoft revealed the app has been removed from download and won’t be back until this spring, giving their developers time to “address the feedback”.

Comments

  • im still a little confused on this “with the exception for TPM 2.0”. so are they saying TPM is no longer (for the preview builds at least) required at all, or are they saying tpm 2.0 isnt but 1.2 still is?
    Waiting to create an image of my system drive before i attempt the process of installing the new build.

  • My current rig is about 3 months old. Not a wimpy rig either, with 64 Gb of RAM, an i9 10-900, and a 3070 in it. So imagine my surprise when the tool straight out said it wasnt compatible with Win 11.

    A little digging later it turned out I just needed to go into BIOS and turn TPM on (which I still havent bothered to do), so no harm done, but its still something that shouldnt have happened. At the very least it should have said my rig was capable, but I needed to activate some functions.

    Good to see they at least realise their shortcoming and are doing something to clarify.

      • There would be workarounds that at the very least would let them say there are potential options. It says “This PC cant run Windows 11” which reads as an absolute.

        Other tools out there can detect the motherboard I have, so why cant the official Windows tool? That info alone could be referenced against a basic database to see if it can potentially run Windows 11. They would have a list of motherboards around somewhere, I’m sure mobo makers talk to Microsoft regularly. Or a big enough list to catch the main players.

        They need to deal with the lowest common denominator here, as in people that know nothing about computers. Thats not me by the way, I knew my rig had it so went looking. But plenty of people still dont know whats in the box, and would just believe they needed a new machine when they probably didnt.

        Its not like it needs detailed instructions on whats needed to turn TPM on, just that it might/should be possible and push me towards the users manual. A message like “Currently your machine cannot run Windows 11. Your motherboard may have an option that needs to be activated. Please check your motherboard manual” would be so much better.

        Or even just a list of whats stopping it from being compatible, and the suggestion to check with your manuals.

        • no one should be forced to dig through their bios to install any version of windows.
          if microsoft is so keen on this TPM nonsense that is only relevant for commercial users, then they should push it as a requirement to receive windows 11 certification for their oem partners to sell new devices with it. everyone else should be allowed to do whatever the fuck they want.

  • honestly this makes more sense. the insider channels is basically their wide audience testing platform. Since we have to send full telemetry over to MS, they might as well see how low the requirements can get

    big picture wise, I think sure maybe some security feature might not get enabled without a TPM chip but for most end users the attack vector is social engineering and TPM does nothing against that. having a hard requirement for TPM seems a bit of an odd one when MS is so proud to proclaim they have 1 billion devices running W10

    • yeah TPM is useless for the majority of users. if they want TPM to become some new standard though, they should have it as a requirement ONLY for new computers, like they are doing with a requirement that all laptops have a front facing camera.
      they have been doing this sort of thing since the dawn of time with their vista ready stickers and such, and with their oem partners its simple for them to say, no you cannot sell a new computer with windows 11 without meeting these requirements. just dont stop existing users from doing what they want with the hardware they own.

  • I was quite confused and concerned when my 2yo i7 laptop told me it wasn’t compatible. I even double-checked my bios to make sure TPM 2.0 was fully enabled (it was). Turns out I have a 7th-gen processor which, for arbitrary reasons falls just outside the system requirements.
    I’m glad to see that they’re changing this.

    • Same, my laptop has an i7 7700HQ and TPM 2.0 was already enabled in the bios and the PC checker thing said it wasn’t compatible.

      Although i don’t think they have updated their PC health tool yet as it says its “coming soon” on the site.

  • Windows artificial requirements are hilarious; people honestly don’t see the utter BS going on here. We had to deal with this nonsense with DX12 also. MS just finding new ways to piss people off if you ask me…

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