You Can Still Install Windows 11 on Older PCs
August 30, 2021
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by Stephen Kanyi

When Microsoft unveiled the new Windows 11 in June, the company detailed minimum hardware requirements for installation. Microsoft made it clear that the new OS would only be supported on Intel 8th gen processors and beyond. The controversial announcement was met with a lot of criticism and confusion as it means that Windows 10 users with computers more than three years old won’t be able to upgrade to the new OS.

The company however recently announced that it won’t block people from installing Windows 11 on most older PCs.

Understanding Hardware Requirements

Microsoft’s June hardware requirements caught a lot of users by surprise. On previous versions including Windows 10, the company has never enforced such specific requirements with any Windows launch. For both Windows 8 and Windows 10, all you needed was 1GB of RAM (2GB for 64-bit), 16GB of storage (20 GB for 64-bit) and a 1GHz processor. They however changed tactics for Windows 11.

Defending their policy shift after a lot of confusion, the company explained that the main driver for these changes is security. The changes are reportedly meant to enable a more modern BIOS (UEFI) essential for supporting security features like TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module) and Secure Boot.

Feel overwhelmed by the terminology? Me too. The main point here is that all these changes were meant to improve security. In a Microsoft blog post, David Weston director of enterprise and OS security at Microsoft explains: “We are announcing Windows 11 to raise security baselines with new hardware security requirements built-in that will give our customers the confidence that they are even more protected from the chip to the cloud on certified devices. Windows 11 is redesigned for hybrid work and security with built-in hardware-based isolation, proven encryption, and our strongest protection against malware.”

Windows is virtually unchallenged in the computer OS market; more than 1.3 billion machines worldwide have installed Windows 10. This means that Windows is the primary target for hackers looking to steal info from both corporations and individuals.

Hacks such as ransomware that made global headlines, Hafnack hacks on Microsoft Exchange Server and the Russia-linked Solar Winds indicates a worrying growth in sophistication of attacks all around the globe. Microsoft wants to counter these attacks with multilayer levels of security protocols for both software and now hardware, hence the processor requirements.

How to Update to Windows 11 on An Older PC

While the Redmond Washington based company is sticking to the hardware requirements, old PC owners can still update their PCs to Windows 11. This will however not be through a simple update from Windows 10 as has been common for previous versions.

Older PCs will have to download an ISO file of Windows 11 and install the OS manually. There is however one big catch: systems upgraded via an ISO download won’t be able to get Windows Updates, and yes, not even security ones.

This announcement is big news as it means that millions of PCs won’t be left behind. It will however put users through the hustle of downloading an ISO file and installing Windows 11 manually, a process that most users don’t know how to or just won’t do. Such a procedure requires a bit of expertise with software to perform and is better left to an expert (you might consider ascribing the help of one if you can’t do it yourself).

For those confident in their abilities, the actual minimum specs for Windows 11 installation don’t defer much from its predecessors. You only need a 64-bit 1 GHz processor with two or more cores 64GB storage and 4GB of RAM.

Alongside this announcement the company also expanded its system requirements to include more processors. Intel’s Xeon W-series, Core X-Series and Surface Studio’s 2 Intel Core 7820HQ will also be supported.

Should You Update Your Old PC to Windows 11?

My advice is NO. Why? As mentioned earlier: ‘systems upgraded via an ISO download won’t be able to get Windows Updates, and yes, not even security ones.’

This here is a particularly sticky point; no security Windows Updates will expose your computer to malware that might corrupt your data or worse, damage your computer’s hardware.

Also, you probably don’t want to go through the unnecessary hustle of downloading and installing the OS yourself; its cumbersome and laborious.

Unfortunately, old PC owners are left with only one option; buy a new one. A costly option I know, but one whose pros will eventually justify the cost down the line.

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