Microsoft today announced that it will not block users from installing Windows 11 on older computers. Although the software manufacturer has suggested hardware requirements for Windows 11, it is essentially sticking to the restriction that the OS can only be installed when you attempt to upgrade from Windows 10 or Windows 11 via Windows Update. Anyone with an older processor can download the ISO file of Windows 11 to manually install it.
In June, Microsoft made clear its Windows 11 minimum hardware requirements. It stated that only Intel 8th Gen or higher CPUs were officially supported. Microsoft tells us now that the install workaround was created primarily to allow businesses to evaluate Windows 11. People can also upgrade at their own risk, as they can't guarantee driver compatibility or overall system reliability. Microsoft will not recommend or advertise this method for installing Windows 11 to the public.
This is a significant change and it means that technically millions of computers will not be left behind. The majority of consumers will have to download an ISO file and manually install Windows 11. For those who prefer to manually install Windows 11, the minimum Windows 11 specifications do not apply. As long as your 64-bit 1GHz processor has two or more cores and 4GB RAM, you can have 64GB storage.
Microsoft has also modified its minimum system requirements to allow for Windows 11 to be installed. For Windows 11 upgrades, Intel Core X-series Xeon W-series and Intel Core X-series processors will be supported. This includes the Intel Core 7820HQ chip inside Surface Studio 2.
Microsoft has been testing these processors together with Intel, but the Intel 7820HQ can only be used on devices that ship Declarative, Componentized, Hardware Support Apps. DCH is a safer and cleaner driver design that Microsoft has encouraged OEMs and hardware makers to adopt over the years. DCH allows OEMs to separate driver installations from apps like GPU control panels, which makes it easier for them to maintain their drivers without the need to issue new updates.
Microsoft will not officially support any Zen 1 CPUs despite having tested them recently. We have analyzed the first generation AMD Zen processors together with AMD and concluded there are no additional CPUs on the supported list. Microsofts Windows team posted this blog today.
There is an easy way to install Windows 11 on older AMD systems. However, Microsoft claims that devices that don't meet the minimum hardware requirements have 52 percent more kernel mode crashes than those that do.
Microsoft plans to update the PC Health Check app (a preview can be found here) to incorporate the new Intel CPUs. This will give you more insight into why your PC may not be able upgrade. Windows users will be able to see if Secure Boot or TPM 2.0 are required to upgrade using the new PC checker app. This is much better than what many received in June.
Microsoft also explains how it came to these minimum system requirements for Windows 11. Microsoft is pushing Windows towards modern DCH drivers, modern security with Trusted Platform Modul (TPM) support, and virtualization-based Security (VBS). Although it is never a good idea to modify hardware requirements, there are workarounds that can be used to mitigate the impact of Microsoft's efforts to improve the security, reliability, and compatibility of Windows 11.