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Microsoft releases Windows 11 for free – but most computers will not be able to run it

A special security chip, as well as a high-performance processor, means that even many Microsoft’s own devices are locked off from the update

Adam Smith
Saturday 26 June 2021 10:09 BST
Related video: Six things to know about Windows 11
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Microsoft announced Windows 11 as a free upgrade to Windows 10 machines, but many users will still be unable to upgrade – despite having modern machines.

The software giant’s new operating system will only support eighth generation and newer Intel Core processors, Apollo Lake, and newer Pentium and Celeron processors.

Windows 10 required only a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM (or 2GB for the 64-bit version), 16GB of storage, and an 800-by-600 resolution display.

Windows 11 requires a 1GHz, 64-bit processor with two or more cores, and has upped the requirements slightly to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, as well as a 720p display, according to its website, but Microsoft also requires a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip. This is a security chip mostly used in professional notebook machines and desktops to store and protect passwords and encryption keys.

Microsoft says that TPM 2.0 is recommended but not necessity for running the operating system. “Devices that do not meet the hard floor cannot be upgraded to Windows 11”, Microsoft wrote, “and devices that meet the soft floor will receive a notification that upgrade is not advised”.

Many users, however, are unlikely to see it as an option when customising a laptop online, and it’s not one usually featured in gaming setups.

The list of processors is also notably more restricted than users might expect. It only includes Intel’s 8th to 11th generation models, as well as the Xeon Skylake, Cascade Lake, Cooper Lake, and Ice Lake units; AMD’s Ryzen series (from 2000 to 5000), EPYC 2nd and 3rd generation, and the Threadripper range from the 2000 to the Pro 3000; and Quamcomm’s Snapdragon units from the 850 to the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2.

Such a huge change will cut out a fair number of existing devices, including most of the company’s Surface Pro tablets, the Surface Hub, and the Surface studio. In order to find out if a PC will support Windows 11, users should download Microsoft’s PC Health Check software here.

The Independent has reached out to Microsoft for more information on the decision.

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