Microsoft updated the minimum system requirements of the company’s upcoming Windows 11 operating system yesterday. Windows customers and administrators who had hoped for less strict requirements, did not get what they wished for. While Microsoft did add a handful of seventh generation Intel processors to the list of compatible processors, it did not change other requirements or unlock all 7th generation processors. For AMD hardware, nothing has been added in this adjustment of system requirements.
The change is as minor as it gets, and most customers whose systems were not compatible previously are left hanging. The requirements prevent Windows 10 systems that don’t meet the minimum system requirements from being upgraded to Windows 11 using Windows Update. The new operating system won’t be offered via Windows Update.
What Microsoft did not reveal in the updated announcement is that there is an official way to install Windows 11 even if the device is not compatible. Microsoft is quiet about it, and did not reveal it in the announcement.
Windows 11 can be installed on non-compatible devices using installation media, e.g. by using the Media Creation Tool. Some requirements do need to be met, e.g. that the system has enough storage available, but the installation is not prevented if the processor is not on the list of supported processors.
The requirements that still need to be met are:
- 64-bit dual core CPU with 1-GHz or higher.
- 4 Gigabytes of RAM.
- 64 Gigabytes of free storage.
- TPM 1.2
Details are not clear at this point. It is unclear if administrators may opt-in to keep installed applications, settings and files, or if only a blank slate installation is allowed on incompatible systems.
Microsoft told The Verge that the option to circumvent the minimum requirements are designed for businesses and organizations primarily to evaluate Windows 11. Microsoft does not provide any guarantees in regards to system reliability or driver compatibility in this case, but won’t block customers, home or organizational, from installing Windows 11 on incompatible systems.
Microsoft contacted The Verge after the original story was published, stating that non-compatible systems may not be eligible for receiving updates with Windows Updates. If true, it would certainly reduce the incentive to install Windows 11 on non-compatible systems, even if it is still possible to install updates manually by downloading them from the Microsoft Update Catalog website.
Being able to install Windows 11 on incompatible systems is a welcome step in the right direction. Still, it seems likely that millions of devices will have to stay on Windows 10 or earlier versions of Windows due to these restrictions.
The confusion surrounding Windows 11 updates will hopefully sort itself out before Microsoft releases the operating system officially. If not, it is creating a divide in the userbase, and that is probably something that Microsoft does not want either.
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