Microsoft lifts years-old compatibility hold for Windows 11

It probably wasn't only sound driver problems that kept users away

Microsoft has lifted a 29-month compatibility hold that prevented some Windows 10 systems from upgrading to Windows 11 due to an issue with an Intel Smart Sound Technology driver.

November 2021 seems a long time ago. At the time, Mark Zuckerberg introduced Meta and a plan to reorganize Facebook around the metaverse concept, NASA took aim at an asteroid with its DART mission, and OpenAI launched an image generator called DALL·E.

As for Microsoft? It discovered back then that certain versions of drivers for Intel Smart Sound Technology (SST) could trip up the newest version of its Windows operating system – Windows 11 – and so threw up a compatibility hold to stop users updating from Windows 10 and encountering blue screen unpleasantness.

DART smacked into an asteroid as planned in 2022. By 2024, Mark Zuckerberg's grand plans were looking increasingly shaky now that AI is very much the technology of the hour, and Microsoft has now finally lifted that compatibility hold.

According to Microsoft: "Only devices with both an Intel 11th Gen Core processors and an Intel SST driver version of or are affected by this issue."

The good news is that, more than two years later, Microsoft has lifted the hold. "The issue," it said, "is resolved by updating the Intel® Smart Sound Technology drivers to version and later, or and later."

For most users, this means simply opening Windows Update and having it check for updates. The drivers can then be installed, and – assuming you haven't fallen foul of any of the other compatibility rules surrounding Windows 11 – within about 48 hours, the upgrade to Windows 11 should be offered.

It is debatable how many users are still affected by the issue. We asked Microsoft and will update should the company give us a figure.

Although unlikely to dramatically change the Windows 10 versus Windows 11 market share situation, there is a certain relief in seeing an issue that was bedeviling some users finally marked as "Resolved." ®

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