The gotcha: Installing Windows 11 on an unsupported PC disables updates

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While Microsoft may allow you to run Windows 11 on an “unsupported” PC, a previously undisclosed Microsoft limitation means that there’s a new, big gotcha waiting in the wings, too.

Microsoft lifted enthusiast hopes on Friday when it told some publications that it would allow users to run Windows 11 on an “unsupported PC,” or one that apps like Microsoft’s own PC Health Check would report as incompatible with the hardware requirements of Windows 11. In response to a PCWorld request for clarification, however, Microsoft added that there was more to it than that.

First, Microsoft clarified that what it said earlier still holds true. If you own a Windows 10 PC, and wish to upgrade it to Windows 11 via either the Windows Media Creation Tool or else by downloading an .ISO file, you’ll be allowed to.

Microsoft also clarified what hardware Windows 11 will require. As Microsoft’s Windows team blogged Friday, Windows 11 will require compatible 64-bit processors, 4GB of memory, 64GB of storage, UEFI secure boot, graphics requirements and TPM 2.0. If your PC only supports a TPM 1.2, however, the PC will be officially considered “unsupported.” 

According to Microsoft, running Windows 11 in an unsupported state is not recommended, and Microsoft says it will be appropriate only in certain temporary scenarios. But Microsoft said Friday evening that unsupported PCs running Windows 11 won’t be entitled to receive updates via Windows Update. That means, Microsoft added, that unsupported Windows PCs might not include security and driver updates, either.

Eliminating access to Windows Update essentially curtails upgrading an unsupported PC in many scenarios. Without updates, users won’t have access to the latest code, as well as new features and potentially security updates, too. Microsoft warned that unsupported, unpatched PCs may have compatibility issues, may become unusable, and may not be covered by warranty. Even if a user is willing to leave their PC in a fixed, unpatched state, Microsoft will likely end support for that version in a year or two. According to Microsoft’s Windows 10 support dates, for example, the current Windows 10 version, Windows 10 21H1, expires on Dec. 13, 2022.

All this means is that, for Windows 11’s hardware requirements, your PC essentially must contain TPM 2.0 hardware, whether integrated or as a standalone chip. (Here’s how to tell whether your PC does.) If it doesn’t, the door has essentially closed on your ability to safely upgrade to Windows 11.

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