Microsoft retracts: Unofficially, older PCs will be able to run Windows 11
Microsoft said Friday that it will reduce parts of its Windows 11 minimum requirements, enabling enthusiasts who understand the risks to download and upgrade to Windows 11 on older, unsupported hardware. Exact facts, however, remain unclear due to contradictory claims and the absence of a Microsoft announcement.
Users who download a standalone Windows 11 ISO file (as described in how to upgrade to the Windows 11 beta) will be able to run Windows 11 even if their PC does not officially qualify for the OS update. According to reports by ZDNet, The Verge, Windows Central, and Thurrott.com, users would be able to run Windows 11 on unsupported hardware based on unsourced attributions from Microsoft spokesmen. Some articles indicated that Microsoft would impose a list of minimum hardware requirements, while others just ignored them.
Microsoft, for its part, appears to be maintaining its position that Windows 11 would require a minimum set of hardware requirements, the most of which have not altered. “We have determined that the compatible 64-bit processors, 4GB of memory, 64GB of storage, UEFI secure boot, graphics requirements, and TPM 2.0 are the minimum system requirements necessary to deliver on the principles we established to best support you,” a blog authored by “the Windows Team” stated Friday.
To be precise, Microsoft did not declare specifically that customers would be allowed to download and install Windows 11 on incompatible hardware in its blog post.
The PC Health Check has returned.
Formally, it looks as if Windows 11 retains a list of minimum hardware requirements. However, it remains unclear if an “unsupported” Windows 11 PC has a minimum hardware specification and, if so, what that standard is. Remember that one of the main concerns about Windows 11’s hardware requirements was the necessity of a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and the required version of the TPM. As mentioned before, the stories released today with data from Microsoft representatives were divided on whether TPM will be required to run Windows 11 on unsupported PCs.
Microsoft did, however, increase the list of compatible CPUs to include three Intel processors: the Intel Core X-series, the Xeon W-series, and the Intel Core 7820HQ found in the Microsoft Surface Studio 2. (Technically, the Surface Studio 2 is one of the “chosen devices that come with contemporary drivers that adhere to Declarative, Componentized, Hardware Support Apps (DCH) design standards.”) Additionally, Microsoft stated that it had thoroughly evaluated the first generation of AMD Zen CPUs and determined that none of them would be added to the authorized list.
Finally, Microsoft said that it will re-release the PC Health Check software that it had previously withdrawn. The updated app (shown at the top of this post) contains “more comprehensive and better messaging on eligibility, as well as links to relevant help articles that offer suggested remediation procedures.” Of course, the PC Health Check app is irrelevant if enthusiasts are still able to install a standalone Windows 11 ISO file on hardware that the PC Health Check software appears to refuse.
We know that customers with older PCs should ultimately be able to run Windows 11. However, did Microsoft address any of the concerns raised by Windows 11 on Friday? We would say no. It very definitely could have done so by providing specifics in an official declaration. However, by secretly disclosing information to four newspapers — each of which reported the issue somewhat differently — Microsoft created confusion around the Windows 11 problem.