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Microsoft Pulls the Bait and Switch with “Unsupported” Processors on Windows 11

This is a developing story and may be updated as new information comes to light.

I’ve been a Microsoft advocate most of my writing career. In fact, as THE content editor for The Windows Users Group Network (WUGNET) for nearly 20 years, I wrote nearly 5000 Windows software, OS, and hardware tips, how-to’s and software reviews. I was a member of Microsoft’s Technical Beta Team (the one you had to apply for, have someone review your qualifications and previous participation (if any), and be accepted into for almost 10 years (between 1993 and 2003). I was nominated for Windows Mobile Devices MVP twice between 2004-2007. I’ve also been an active, contributing Microsoft Windows Insider since the program’s inception (almost 7 years again).

I have a bit of history and experience with Microsoft technologies that most enthusiasts don’t. I’ve been around for a while and I’ve seen quite a bit. As such I feel more than qualified to make the following statement –

Microsoft’s marketing around the system requirements for Windows 11 needs a great deal of work. It’s horrible.

It’s been reported by a number of different news sites that the hardware requirements for Windows 11 are still in flux. Microsoft’s intent is to insure that Windows 11 is more secure, which is why they are requiring a TPM 2.0 chip and are only supporting more recent CPU’s. However, Microsoft still hasn’t finalized which processors or other hardware and system components it will and will not support.

In fact, those requirements are still so much in flux that their compatibility checking tool for Windows 11, the Windows PC Health Check Tool – originally released back in June-July 2021 – was pulled back, and as of this publication date, still hasn’t been re-released.

However, interestingly enough, Microsoft did recently announce that some 7th Generation Intel processors would, in fact, support Windows 11.  Further more, Microsoft also released ISO’s for a recent Dev and Beta build of Windows 11 Build 22000.132.  They further have announced that users will be able to install the OS on officially unsupported hardware by using the aforementioned ISO to do a clean install.

However, as reported by a number of different sites (Beta News, The Verge), while you’ll initially be able to install the OS, its highly unlikely you’ll be able to update it.  In other words, there’s no guarantee that Windows Update will download OS updates; or even driver updates or security patches.  So, you’ll be able to install the OS on your unsupported PC, but you won’t be able to safely use it.

In life, we call this the ol’ bait and switch; and its a dick move.

In a briefing with The Verge, Microsoft says that anyone installing Windows 11 via  this manual upgrade will not be entitled to received updates to Windows 11 from Windows Update. 

This isn’t necessarily an issue of activation, as you’ll likely be able to activate the OS…or at least, Microsoft hasn’t said that activating the OS on unsupported hardware will fail.  This is more along the lines of the OS doing a system check during installation and writing a file to the hard drive or setting to the registry that disables Windows Update.

Microsoft – and their OEM partners – don’t want you to upgrade an existing PC. They want you to buy a new PC designed specifically for Windows 11. Allowing you to install Windows 11 into an unsupported state effectively allows you to try it out, but attempts to force you to buy new hardware. 

So in effect, you get a trial of Windows 11 that you can use RIGHT NOW, but likely won’t be able to use long term, because you aren’t going to get any driver updates or security patches for the OS without specific feature upgrade support.  Now, Microsoft hasn’t said specifically that they’re going to enforce the disablement of Windows Update on unsupported hardware, but in my opinion, you don’t make a “threat” like that without following up.  

As I said… Not nice.

Hopefully, Microsoft will provide the appropriate level of security updates, at a minimum, on unsupported hardware. If they don’t, it would likely be better for them to disable the ability to install and run Windows 11 on all but supported hardware, as the security risks are just too great.

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