Microsoft changes CPU requirements to install Windows 11, Mac support remains unclear

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9to5Mac 27 August, 2021 - 06:27pm 22 views

Is Windows 11 released?

Windows 11 is an upcoming major version of the Windows NT operating system developed by Microsoft. Announced on June 24, 2021, with an expected release in late 2021, Windows 11 is the successor to Windows 10, released in 2015. wikipedia.orgWindows 11 - Wikipedia

You’ll be able to run Windows 11 on older PCs—if you install the update manually

Ars Technica 28 August, 2021 - 03:00am

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Microsoft officially announced some small additions to Windows 11's official CPU support list today, along with additional details about the operating system's security requirements. But another, quieter announcement should quell more of the system requirement-related angst: the Verge reports that Microsoft won't stop you from performing manual installs of Windows 11 on systems that don't meet the official requirements. That means that people running Windows 10 on unsupported systems won't be offered Windows 11 through Windows Update, but you'll still be able to update if you download an ISO file and perform an upgrade or a clean install manually.

This will be a particular boon to PCs right on the border of Windows 11's system requirements, like those running 6th- or 7th-generation Intel Core CPUs or first-generation AMD Ryzen processors. These chips are missing support for a few esoteric optional security requirements but can otherwise meet the performance and Secure Boot and TPM 2.0 requirements and still get modern DCH driver support from Intel, AMD, and most PC OEMs.

Microsoft is still actively recommending that you don't run Windows 11 on any system that doesn't meet the official support criteria. According to data from PCs running the Insider Preview builds, Microsoft says that PCs that didn't meet the requirements had "52% more kernel mode crashes" than PCs that did and that first-party apps crashed 43 percent more often on unsupported hardware. But allowing users to make the decision for themselves is arguably what the company should have done in the first place—people who don't seek out the Windows 11 update will never be offered it if their hardware isn't up to snuff, but advanced users, testers, and IT departments who do want to run the latest software on their computers can evaluate the trade-offs and make the decision for themselves.

The current Insider Preview versions of the Windows 11 ISOs will halt if your system is missing either Secure Boot or a TPM (though it's fine with a TPM 1.2 module, despite the operating system's official TPM 2.0 requirement). You can get around this limitation with a couple of quick Windows Registry hacks; we don't yet know whether the final Windows 11 ISOs will make the same system checks. We've asked Microsoft for more details and will follow up if we get a response.

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The Windows 11 upgrade situation just got less and more confusing

The Verge 27 August, 2021 - 02:00pm

Even if you can install, many may be told their PC isn’t good enough

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

This morning, Microsoft revealed a change of plan to The Verge: it won’t technically abandon those millions of PCs, because you’ll be able to manually install the downloadable Windows 11 ISO on whatever you want. The company’s also extending its official CPU compatibility list to a bunch of Intel’s most expensive Xeon workstation processors and its most expensive line of Core X desktop CPUs — and, tellingly, the less powerful Intel chip it shipped in its Surface Studio 2, so it no longer has to defend the idea of abandoning a flagship product that it still continues to sell brand-new.

But while it might seem like Microsoft’s opening up the floodgates, the confusing reality of Windows 11 upgrades hasn’t changed quite as much as you might think. While DIY PC gamers, IT admins, and other power users will be able to perform a clean install of Windows 11 on existing hardware dating back years, it’s not encouraging that at all.

First and perhaps most important, Microsoft informed us after we published this story that if your computer doesn’t meet the system requirements, it may not be entitled to get Windows Updates, even security ones. We’re asking Microsoft for clarification on that now. But secondly, it still sounds like Microsoft will be encouraging millions of people to replace their perfectly good Windows PCs.

Imagine for a moment that you’ve never heard of an ISO; you’re hoping to upgrade your aging machine to the refreshing yet familiar Windows 11 this fall; and you want to know if it’ll work. You might well fire up Microsoft’s PC Health Check app, because that’s the exact tool the company is advertising for that purpose. But that tool might lead you astray. Microsoft tells The Verge that app will still check your CPU against Microsoft’s list of supported processors — and direct you to “relevant support articles that include potential remediation steps” if you don’t have the chips that Microsoft prefers.

October 2012: With Surface looming, Microsoft fails to explain Windows 8 vs. Windows RT to consumers

March 2013: Microsoft defends Windows RT, fails to answer criticisms

October 2013: Microsoft admits Surface RT naming caused ‘some confusion’

June 2015: Microsoft forced to explain who really gets Windows 10 for free

May 2017: Windows 10 S is going to confuse people

March 2018: Microsoft admits Windows 10 S was confusing, new ‘S Mode’ upgrades will be free

June 25th, 2021: Windows 11 is free, but your CPU might not be officially supported; Why Windows 11 is forcing everyone to use TPM chips

June 28th, 2021: Microsoft won’t confirm exactly which CPUs work with Windows 11 — yet

June 29th, 2021: Windows 11 will leave millions of PCs behind, and Microsoft is struggling to explain why

Most Windows PC owners probably won’t bother with a compatibility checker app, of course. They’ll just wait for the Windows Update that can automatically bring it to them for free, much like how Windows 10 was a free update when it arrived in 2015. But here, again, Microsoft will only be updating computers with supported CPUs.

Avoiding automatic updates for CPUs that aren’t supported makes some amount of sense: Microsoft doesn’t want to be blamed if it makes your Windows experience worse, and it can’t test every single configuration under the sun.

But how much worse is worse? Microsoft makes it sound pretty bad at first, writing that it saw 52 percent more kernel mode crashes (aka the infamous BSOD) when testing systems that didn’t meant its minimum spec — whereas machines that did meet it had a 99.8 percent crash-free experience. But if you do the math, it means we’re going from a 2-in-1,000 chance of a BSOD to a 3-in-1,000 chance. That additional amount of downtime might not be acceptable for a sysadmin managing thousands of older computers, but it’d likely be a different story for the average person who only buys a new PC every four to six years.

As we’ve explained before, Microsoft has some valid security reasons to insist on more stringent hardware requirements like TPM 2.0, particularly from its laptop and desktop partners. The company’s been targeted by some extremely troubling attacks and would like to prevent more, but it only has so much leverage over the PC industry to make sure security features are actually turned on. (Microsoft has technically mandated TPM 2.0 since July 2016.)

None of this will be a problem for those who simply buy a new computer with a preloaded copy of Windows 11. But that’s my point — now that Microsoft has revealed it’s not actually locking Windows 11 to those security features, the list of supported CPUs feels even more like a gift to Intel and PC manufacturers in the form of extra computer sales (where Microsoft profits off each Windows 10 license) than a staunch security play. And it’ll be a shame, particularly for the environment, if people wind up tossing PCs that are perfectly capable of running the new OS.

As security expert (and former Microsoft threat intelligence analyst) Kevin Beaumont put it earlier this year, the company’s motivations are questionable:

Microsoft is potentially about to push lots of people toward buying a new computer this fall, and PC manufacturers will be only too happy to help. I just wonder how shameless Microsoft will be as time goes on: when it comes to promoting its own Microsoft Edge browser, it has repeatedly disrespected its own users’ choices with forced Windows Updates.

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Microsoft won’t stop you installing Windows 11 on older PCs

The Verge 27 August, 2021 - 12:00pm

Windows 11 will run on older CPUs

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Microsoft announced its Windows 11 minimum hardware requirements in June, and made it clear that only Intel 8th Gen and beyond CPUs were officially supported. Microsoft now tells us that this install workaround is designed primarily for businesses to evaluate Windows 11, and that people can upgrade at their own risk as the company can’t guarantee driver compatibility and overall system reliability. Microsoft won’t be recommending or advertising this method of installing Windows 11 to consumers. In fact, after we published this post, Microsoft reached out to tell us about one potentially gigantic catch it didn’t mention during our briefing: systems that are upgraded this way may not be entitled to get Windows Updates, even security ones. We’re asking Microsoft for clarification.

Overall, it’s a big change that means millions of PCs may not be left behind, technically. Consumers will still need to go to the effort of downloading an ISO file and manually installing Windows 11, which the vast majority probably won’t do. But for those happy to install Windows manually, the actual minimum Windows 11 specs mean that CPU generations don’t matter, as long as you have a 64-bit 1GHz processor with two or more cores, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.

Microsoft has been testing these processors with Intel, but the 7820HQ is only supported on devices that ship with Declarative, Componentized, Hardware Support Apps (DCH). You may have heard of DCH in GPU drivers, and it’s a cleaner and more secure driver design that Microsoft has been encouraging OEMs and hardware manufacturers to adopt in recent years. Apps like GPU control panels are separated from the driver install with DCH, allowing OEMs to service them separately without having to issue new driver updates.

Microsoft won’t be officially supporting any Zen 1 CPUs, despite testing them recently. “After carefully analyzing the first generation of AMD Zen processors in partnership with AMD, together we concluded that there are no additions to the supported CPU list,” says Microsoft’s Windows team in a blog post today.

Obviously there is a workaround to install Windows 11 on these older AMD systems, but Microsoft says devices that don’t meet the minimum hardware requirements “had 52 percent more kernel mode crashes.” Devices that meet the official minimum specs “had a 99.8 percent crash free experience,” says Microsoft.

Microsoft also details how it arrived at these minimum system requirements for Windows 11. Microsoft wants to push Windows toward modern DCH drivers and modern security with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) support and virtualization-based security (VBS). There’s never a good time to try to change hardware requirements, but with a workaround in place it does cushion the blow of what Microsoft is trying to achieve around improving the security, compatibility, and reliability aspects of Windows 11.

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Microsoft won’t stop you installing Windows 11 on older PCs

Gizmodo 27 August, 2021 - 12:00pm

Windows 11 will run on older CPUs

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Microsoft announced its Windows 11 minimum hardware requirements in June, and made it clear that only Intel 8th Gen and beyond CPUs were officially supported. Microsoft now tells us that this install workaround is designed primarily for businesses to evaluate Windows 11, and that people can upgrade at their own risk as the company can’t guarantee driver compatibility and overall system reliability. Microsoft won’t be recommending or advertising this method of installing Windows 11 to consumers. In fact, after we published this post, Microsoft reached out to tell us about one potentially gigantic catch it didn’t mention during our briefing: systems that are upgraded this way may not be entitled to get Windows Updates, even security ones. We’re asking Microsoft for clarification.

Overall, it’s a big change that means millions of PCs may not be left behind, technically. Consumers will still need to go to the effort of downloading an ISO file and manually installing Windows 11, which the vast majority probably won’t do. But for those happy to install Windows manually, the actual minimum Windows 11 specs mean that CPU generations don’t matter, as long as you have a 64-bit 1GHz processor with two or more cores, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.

Microsoft has been testing these processors with Intel, but the 7820HQ is only supported on devices that ship with Declarative, Componentized, Hardware Support Apps (DCH). You may have heard of DCH in GPU drivers, and it’s a cleaner and more secure driver design that Microsoft has been encouraging OEMs and hardware manufacturers to adopt in recent years. Apps like GPU control panels are separated from the driver install with DCH, allowing OEMs to service them separately without having to issue new driver updates.

Microsoft won’t be officially supporting any Zen 1 CPUs, despite testing them recently. “After carefully analyzing the first generation of AMD Zen processors in partnership with AMD, together we concluded that there are no additions to the supported CPU list,” says Microsoft’s Windows team in a blog post today.

Obviously there is a workaround to install Windows 11 on these older AMD systems, but Microsoft says devices that don’t meet the minimum hardware requirements “had 52 percent more kernel mode crashes.” Devices that meet the official minimum specs “had a 99.8 percent crash free experience,” says Microsoft.

Microsoft also details how it arrived at these minimum system requirements for Windows 11. Microsoft wants to push Windows toward modern DCH drivers and modern security with Trusted Platform Module (TPM) support and virtualization-based security (VBS). There’s never a good time to try to change hardware requirements, but with a workaround in place it does cushion the blow of what Microsoft is trying to achieve around improving the security, compatibility, and reliability aspects of Windows 11.

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Windows 11 will lose these common taskbar features

CNET 27 August, 2021 - 02:00am

Windows 11 will be missing several key features in its taskbar

One of the missing features is events and agenda integration from the calendar flyout. This can be found on the right hand side of the taskbar that's part of the Windows 10 Calendar app. Currently, events can be added and synced with devices that were connected to the same Microsoft/Outlook/Exchange accounts. 

Users in the Feedback Hub who've been testing Windows 11 assumed this was a bug.

Apps or files can no longer be dragged directly on to the taskbar nor can they be ungrouped. Plus, the taskbar clock registry hack to include the seconds will be disabled in Windows 11. Microsoft said they will not include it in the new operating system. 

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