Windows 11’s requirements are a problem

Begin digging round for examples of extraordinarily outdated PCs operating on trendy variations of Windows, and also you’ll discover some superb feats of longevity.

ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes as soon as marveled at how a PC from 2008 ran Windows 10 with out situation. PCWorld’s Gordon Mah Ung installed Windows 10 on a Dell Dimension desktop from 2006 and described it as “super-smooth” and “surprisingly responsive.” Customers on websites corresponding to TenForums have gone again even additional, having success with Windows 10 on Pentium 4-powered desktops from 2004.

All of which can clarify the shock that ensued when Microsoft introduced its system requirements for Windows 11, which launches on the finish of this 12 months.Microsoft says it’s solely assured that sure newer Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm chips can meet all of these requirements, although the corporate hasn’t dominated out supporting some gadgets with Seventh-generation Intel or AMD Zen 1 processors. Which means PCs from mid-2017 or earlier might not get the improve.

Microsoft says that Windows 11’s strict requirements are mandatory to chop down on safety points and glitches. However in slaying these two basic Windows demons, it’s additionally ending a report of longterm assist that has usually been one in every of Windows’ defining strengths.


Stricter-than-ever {hardware} requirements

The exceptional factor about Windows is that its {hardware} requirements have barely modified over the previous 14 years. From Windows Vista via Windows 10, Microsoft has demanded a meager 1 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM (although the corporate did double its required storage from 16 GB to 32 GB in Windows 10). Operating Windows on a PC with these minimal specs wouldn’t all the time yield the best expertise, however Microsoft wouldn’t cease you from making an attempt.

[Image: Microsoft]

Windows 11 calls for a better quantity of storage and RAM—64 GB and 4 GB, respectively—however the true sticking level has to do with processors and safety features corresponding to Trusted Platform Module 2.0 assist.

Microsoft’s Windows 11 requirements might reduce off some PCs that are lower than 5 years outdated.

The gist is that Microsoft needs to mandate options like Windows Hiya (for face or fingerprint recognition), gadget encryption, and safe boot for his or her potential to scale back malware. Microsoft says it’s solely assured that sure newer Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm chips can meet all of these requirements.

The Verge’s Tom Warren additionally speculates that Spectre and Meltdown, a pair of notorious vulnerabilities that affected 20 years’ price of laptop chips, may also clarify the choice; Intel didn’t begin implementing {hardware} fixes till 2018 with a few of its Eighth-generation processors.

Tying new safety requirements to new variations of Windows isn’t with out precedent. Beginning with Windows 8 in 2012, Microsoft has required a processor characteristic known as NX bit, which prevents attackers from executing malware via a portion of a system’s reminiscence.

[Image: Microsoft]

However at that time, NX bit had already been purchasing on most processors released in the last eight years. By comparability, Microsoft’s Windows 11 requirements might reduce off some PCs that are lower than 5 years outdated. Even these whose {hardware} is able to operating Windows 11 might must do some tweaking: On my desktop, which has a two-year-old AMD Ryzen 5 processor, I needed to tinker with command-line and BIOS settings earlier than Microsoft’s Health Check app gave me the all clear for Windows 11.

On the identical time, Microsoft is giving PC house owners much less time to both improve or substitute their present {hardware}. Though Windows 10 arrived in 2015, customers of Windows 8.1 nonetheless have till January 2023 earlier than Microsoft cuts off assist. Earlier than that, Microsoft gave seven years of extra assist to Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP customers after launching main upgrades. With the launch of Windows 11, Microsoft says that it’s chopping that grace interval down to simply 4 years.

The disposable age

Till now, the software program upgradability of Windows PCs has been a welcome exception in an period when tech appears designed for disposability.


With new Macs, software program assist tends to final between 5 to eight years. The 2012 launch of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, as an example, reduce off all pre-2007 Macs, whereas the primary model of OS X in 2001 required a Energy Mac G3 from at the least 1997.

Google’s Chromebooks initially had a support lifespan of just five years as well, and even now Google solely ensures eight years of updates. On condition that many Chromebooks stay on sale for years after launch, prospects can simply purchase gadgets that are simply two or three years away from their expiration dates.

Smartphones, in the meantime, have even shorter lifespans. Android cellphone makers usually abandon their {hardware} after a couple of years, and whereas Apple does a a lot better job supporting iPhones over the long run, it’s solely now beginning to assist gadgets for greater than 5 years. (The forthcoming iOS 15 replace with assist telephones as outdated because the iPhone SE and iPhone 6s from 2016.)

Having an up-to-date gadget isn’t nearly getting new options. It’s additionally vital for receiving essential safety fixes and assist from third-party apps. Windows has historically allowed customers to take pleasure in these advantages for a decade or extra, and even when these customers determined to purchase new {hardware}, they may nonetheless promote, donate, or hand down their older machines understanding they’d proceed to be supported.

[Image: Microsoft]

With Windows 11, all of that may get more durable to do. The improve would require a lot newer {hardware} in comparison with earlier variations, and people who proceed to make use of Windows 10–by necessity or selection—could have much less time earlier than that model stops receiving any updates in any respect, together with essential safety fixes.

Maybe Microsoft didn’t get sufficient credit score for going in opposition to the development of disposable gadgets up to now. However now that it’s on the verge of discarding that legacy, it’s actually deserving of criticism.