Win 11 adds 'requirements not met' nag for unsupported hardware

Don't wanna buy the latest stuff? Here's your watermark

Those running Windows 11 on unsupported hardware are getting an update, though not the kind that low-end hardware and VM users might be hoping for.

The latest Release Preview of Windows 11 adds an undocumented feature that slaps a line of text in the lower right hand side of the Windows desktop and a similar warning in the Settings app for any system that fails to meet Windows 11's exacting standards.

The message is short and to the point: "System requirements not met. Go to Settings to learn more."

It's also far less obtrusive than the watermarks on unactivated Windows 11 systems, which shows inside full-screen apps. This one does not. 

Microsoft's strict hardware requirements for Windows 11 are well known, and the method for bypassing them is likely also known to anyone who needs to run Windows 11 on older computers or in a virtual environment.

Even when circumvented, Microsoft takes pains to notify users, which can get cumbersome in enterprise environments. (This will be rare, as Windows 11 on unsupported hardware is nightmare fuel for admins.)

However, the warnings are not as burdensome as the hardware requirements, which have kept Windows 11 software from running on countless machines that didn't meet the requisite 4GB RAM, 1GHz 64-bit processor.

As of November 2021, Microsoft's latest operating system was only on 0.21 percent of systems included in a survey of 10 million IT assets, compared to Windows XP's 3.62 percent. 

Microsoft didn't respond to a question about whether or not it plans to take any additional action against those running Windows 11 on unqualified hardware. The Windows-maker put a number of restrictions in place on unregistered copies of Windows 10, but hardware requirements aren't the same as violating terms of service.

Microsoft would be setting itself up for serious PR blowback if it started restricting Windows 11 on unqualified hardware after upsetting people with strict hardware requirements in the first place. 

Microsoft has previously stated that Windows 11 installs on unsupported hardware won't be entitled to updates, though when and how that cutoff is decided remains unclear, as this feature would have been pointless had that time already come. 

It's also worth noting that, as previously reported by The Register, hardware requirement checks on Windows 11 are only performed when upgrading a PC from Windows 10, and it's those instances where the bypass comes in, and where warnings will start to appear.

Fresh Windows 11 installations from an ISO file don't check for hardware requirements, so if you're willing to start fresh you might be able to avoid this entire kerfuffle. 

Unless, that is, Microsoft is adding that watermark to all systems, even those with a fresh installation that didn't experience a hardware check with a prior version of Windows 11. ®

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