Happy with your existing Windows 10 setup? Good, because Windows 11 could turn its nose up at your CPU

If your chip's not on the list, you're not coming in. Even you, Surface Studio 2


Windows 11 won't land until nearer the end of the year and when it does users will only get a supported sample of the OS if they have relatively new hardware.

Although the latest version of Windows 10 (21H1) will go all the way back to the fifth generation of Intel's chippery, Windows 11 is a good deal more choosy and starts at the eighth generation.

The eighth generation of Intel processors, codenamed Coffee Lake, turned up in 2017.

The change means that while Windows 11 might install on older kit, there is every chance that setup will whinge – followed by a possible wholesale failure at some undefined point in the future. Microsoft has, after all, made it quite clear that it won't be supporting such hardware.

And that even includes Microsoft-made hardware.

A glance at the company's flagship Surface Studio 2 (starting at a mere £3,549) shows an Intel Core i7-7820HQ lurking within the chassis, meaning that at time of writing it is not on the guest list as far as the Windows Processor Requirements are concerned.

The same applies to the company's first generation of Surface Laptops.

It is almost as if the Surface and Windows teams are not talking to each other despite both being headed by Panos Panay.

Much of the current Dell, HP, and Lenovo line-up have more recent chips but older systems may need replacement if Windows 11 is to be installed, despite being more than capable from a performance standpoint.

According to Microsoft's documentation, Windows 11 also requires the presence of a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) – version 2.0 – and UEFI Secure Boot enabled.

Owners of more recent PCs might have to delve into their BIOS settings to flip the required switch. Others wanting the Windows 11 experience could be looking at new hardware.

Still, Windows Insiders on the Dev Channel have been given a slight reprieve. Until Windows 11 goes to General Availability, Microsoft will allow the bravest of Insiders to play with it, even if their hardware does not meet the minimum requirements. It is "our way of saying thanks," said Microsoft.

Beta Channel users without the appropriate hardware will not be so lucky. The first preview builds of Windows 11 are expected there later this summer, at which point anyone without the correct kit will get booted into the Release Preview channel. "Some of these PCs may be able to move back to the Beta Channel, but at their own risk."

While the insistence on TPM is understandable to a certain extent, it is a shame that Microsoft is yanking support for older CPUs. During its Windows 11 presentation, it sought to portray itself as a more kindly custodian of application stores than certain other tech giants.

By abruptly pulling the rug from beneath users with older hardware, it risks the ire of its customers even as its hardware partners look forward to a potentially lucrative upgrade wave.

According to Dell, there are about 700 million PCs out there that are older than four years. ®

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