Take a good look at the computers you use every day. Do you know what operating system you’re running and what hardware is inside? If you have no idea, do you remember when it was new? This is going to matter very soon, because in 2025 Microsoft is ending support for Windows 10.
There are a few attitudes I’ve come to identify in regards to replacing computer systems:
Some folks make an active effort to replace their old PCs within a certain timeframe – which mostly guarantees their hardware is kept up to date with their software and that they have a valid warranty. Some people will upgrade or replace hardware so that they can take advantage of free software updates, but otherwise do not worry about warranties or replace hardware until it fails catastrophically. Finally, some will not upgrade or replace anything until there is no other option.
Windows 11 will force some people to finally change.
Whereas I have personally installed Windows 10 on Core2Duo and Core2Quad systems (circa 2006, with an SSD, of course) and discovered, to my surprise, that it ran surprisingly well—Microsoft is simply not going to allow it with their newest OS. It sounds bleak, and for some it will require some change—but let’s get one thing straight: this is not abnormal. The only unusual thing is that Microsoft allowed people to use Windows 10 for so long and across such a broad landscape of configurations.
Windows 10, like nearly every other Windows OS, had requirements for minimum CPU speed, minimum RAM, and minimum storage – but Windows 11 has a much stricter CPU architecture requirement. The basic requirement is a dual core, 64-bit CPU, but this is still not the whole story — Microsoft has released extensive documentation on what CPUs Windows 11 will be supported.
You can read specifics on the AMD and Intel CPU support in Windows 11, but broadly speaking, if your CPU was released within the last four years you should be able to run Windows 11. Again, just speaking broadly, you could say that Intel 8th Generation and AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs should be fully supported.
Next question: What does “Fully Supported” mean?
Well, there are a lot of people online talking about how to trick Windows 11 installation media into ignoring hardware requirement checks so that you can install unsupported hardware. And guess what. So long as the system ran Windows 10 64-bit with flying colors, it will probably run Windows 11, too. The problem is that an unsupported install means that you’re potentially opening yourself up to security threats and software instability—not to mention software vendors will blame your configuration when it comes to troubleshooting anything.
Those of us who remember installing iterations of Windows prior to Windows 10 know that Microsoft supporting the last four years of processors is generous—it is also eventually necessary. Some of the most important features of Windows 11 will be on the security front, and newer processor architectures are needed to take advantage of what the OS will offer.
Don’t get me wrong; I am going to miss installing a new Windows OS on ancient hardware. But it’s in Microsoft’s best interest to stop the people who have been using a 2nd Gen i7 and Windows 7 Pro install (upgraded to Windows 10) for over a decade, and the PC industry also has to recognize that we are being held back by the constant need to be compatible with old hardware.
With the CPU requirement out of the way, we can finally discuss the rest: Windows 11 also requires a TPM 2.0 module, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB of storage. See? Now the rest doesn’t seem so bad. Look on the bright side – you can upgrade for free to Windows 11 so long as you have the supported hardware.
All of that said, don’t forget that your days with Windows 10 are numbered. If you have a fleet of systems running Windows 10 and they won’t support Windows 11, you’ll want to start upgrading now. Do yourself (and your IT team) a favor and do not wait until November 2024 to replace every workstation. Start testing now and start replacing your oldest systems as soon as you can.
Do you remember when Windows 7 was officially unsupported and people suddenly wanted to get everyone on Windows 10? Remember the ransomware attacks that crippled organizations throughout the world, due to vulnerabilities in Windows XP and Windows 7? I do! This is like that, but much worse, because Windows 10 was probably the most generous Windows operating system we will ever see. Oh yeah… And don’t forget about those supply chain issues which probably won’t just magically go away.
Plan now, and save yourself from the headaches later! Give us a shout if you need help learning more about Windows 11, ordering new PCs, replacing systems, or any part of this transition! We would love to make it as seamless as possible for you.