WIndows 11 has been officially announced and the good news is that if you currently own Windows 10, youíll get a free upgrade to Windows 11 when the time comes. Unfortunately, the good news seems to stop there.
First of all, Windows 10 has received its end of service date. It will stop receiving support on October 14, 2025. That doesnít seem too bad by itself. After all, if weíre all getting free Windows 11 upgrades from Windows 10, why even wait that long? Well, it turns out that Windows 11 has some rather strict system requirements and thereís a good chance a system that you had hoped to get a few more years from may not in fact work at all.
Weíre going to try and clear up the situation with Windows 11 right now, but do remember that Microsoft can change these requirements at any time.
Windows 11 and Supported CPUs
If you have a 7th-generation Intel CPU, a first generation Ryzen CPU or anything older than either of these options, Windows 11 will flat out not work with your computer. Despite CPUs of this vintage certainly having more than enough horsepower to run Windows 11, Microsoft seems to be making a clean break from a certain generation of CPU technology.
We arenít exactly sure why yet. It may be that Windows 11 is written to rely on certain modern CPU microcode functions that are lacking in anything older than the required CPUs.
When 2025 comes around, these older chips could still be doing useful work, but as it stands they wonít be doing anything useful in Windows.
The TPM Situation
Apart from CPUs older than a certain generation being cut out, the other hard requirement is that your computer have a TPM or Trusted Platform Module. This is a special bit of encryption hardware that lives on your motherboard. Itís been a requirement to use BitLocker drive encryption in the past for secure booting, but itís always been optional. Now thatís not the case anymore.
If you have a motherboard or laptop that was designed for a professional or enterprise market, you almost certainly have a TPM installed. However, if you have a mainstream motherboard or one thatís designed for enthusiasts such as gamers, a TPM is less likely to be present. Since those markets have never really needed one.
With Windows 11 you need to have an active TPM 2.0 solution in your computer or the operating system will refuse to install. Some motherboards have a header where you can add a TPM as an add-on component, but thatís a relatively rare feature and usually only appears on server or other professional boards.
Donít Forget About Firmware TPM
Even if your motherboard doesnít have a hardware TPM, you may still be in luck. Most recent AMD and Intel CPUs have firmware TPMs built into the chip.
The only fly in the ointment here is that most motherboard makers have this function disabled by default. Youíll have to boot into the BIOS or UEFI menu and look for a setting to activate your firmware TPM. The actual label for this function may differ from one motherboard to the next, so check the manual if you canít find it.
Unfortunately, even if you have a CPU with a firmware TPM, the motherboard maker may have opted not to let you toggle it on. Many boards aimed at mainstream users or gamers have this feature left out to entice professional buyers to go for more expensive enterprise boards. However, now that Windows 11 has made TPMs a hard requirement, we expect plenty of board makers to issue firmware updates that add the feature.