Microsoft offers a free upgrade path for Windows 11. As long as you have Windows 10 and a reasonably modern PC, you can upgrade your operating system. However, Microsoft cautions users that installing Windows 11 on an older PC carries risks. If you install the operating system on older hardware, you will need to sign a waiver that absolves Microsoft of fault if problems arise.
The warning and disclaimer are not unreasonable. After all, upgrading to a new Windows operating system could potentially render your PC unusable. Those cases are not as common as some would have you believe, but the risk is there regardless.
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Failure to meet Windows 11 requirements
The (small) chance of an update crashing my PC is the reason I never updated my Windows OS. I have always chosen to buy a new PC or laptop with the latest version of Windows pre-installed. This was going to be my plan for Windows 11 as I had been planning to build a new PC since the summer. However, since I haven’t heard of any major issues when upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11, I decided to upgrade.
Things did not go as expected.
I reasoned that my PC, which I built with brand new parts six years ago, could meet the minimum requirements of Windows 11. Obviously, I should have searched for the requirements first, but I honestly didn’t expect to run into any problems. Before installing, I downloaded Microsoft’s free Health Check app to check if my PC could handle Windows 11. This is something I suggest you do if you are interested in upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11. It is a quick installation and it takes less than 30 seconds to scan your PC.
This is the message I received after the Health Check app finished its scan.
My CPU did not meet the requirements was a surprise, but what really took me by surprise was that TPM was not detected on my PC. What is a TPM? TPM (Trusted Platform Module) is a secure cryptoprocessor that protects a computer using an embedded cryptographic key. Protects your PC against malware and hackers trying to access your data. TPM security is found on most modern PCs, but apparently not on dinosaur ones like mine.
I met the other minimum requirements (4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage space, two or more cores, and a processor clock speed of 1 GHz or faster), but since my CPU (an Intel i7-4790) it is not on the compatibility list and I was missing TPM, no luck. I could have installed Windows 11 anyway, but considering how I need my PC for work and play, I decided to err on the side of caution and forgo installing the operating system.
I’d love to offer some smart solutions for Windows 11 to run on older platforms. But the truth of the matter is, if you want to run Windows 11, you will have to upgrade your PC or build / buy a completely new one. Fortunately, you can purchase and install all the necessary components. Things can get expensive depending on what you buy, but if you’re only buying components that meet the minimum requirements of Windows 11, you won’t break the bank.
You can add TPM 2.0 functionality by purchasing a compatible module for your motherboard. You will have to look up your motherboard model to see if its manufacturer released a compatible TPM. Note that some manufacturers no longer produce TPM. If you purchase a compatible module, you will have to find the TPM pins on your motherboard and insert it (after making sure you have enabled TPM in the BIOS menu).
Since I didn’t want to deal with all of that, I decided to forget about installing Windows 11 on my current PC. The situation is somewhat disappointing but not entirely unexpected. Technology is always advancing, making old hardware obsolete. It is a fact of life that we have all come to grudgingly accept. Even if your old PC still works fine, there will come a time when you will no longer be able to update your software.
Stay with Windows 10 for now
If you’re satisfied with Windows 10 and your current PC, continue to make the most of it. You don’t need to have Windows 11 when it starts up and you probably don’t need to get familiar with it for a long time just yet. But if you are like me and want to stay up to date with the latest Windows operating system, then you will have to upgrade your hardware to use Windows 11.
- Plus: How to install Windows 11 – a step-by-step guide