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Microsoft stands firm on its Windows 11 device requirements, with one caveat

Despite complaints, Microsoft will maintain the minimum system requirements it set out for Windows 11, including TPM 2.0. But there is one workaround.

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Microsoft is holding strong to its Windows 11 minimum system requirements.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft's upcoming Windows 11 operating system, currently available as a Windows Insider preview and set for a general release later this year, will require compatible devices to have a 64-bit processors selected, 4GB of memory, 64GB of storage, UEFI secure boot and TPM 2.0. Despite pushback from users, and after testing early versions of the operating system, these minimum system requirements will remain in place, Microsoft said in a Friday blog post. However, a few more processors were added to the compatibility list. And for some, there is a workaround that may let you upgrade older machines, though you won't get Microsoft's support.

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Microsoft's list of compatible processors now includes the Intel Core X-series and Xeon W-series, as well as select devices with the Intel Core 7820HQ, including the Surface Studio 2

The reasons for the strict Windows 11 minimum system requirements are performance- and security-based, according to Microsoft. The company's testing found that devices that did not meet minimum requirements experienced 52% more kernel mode crashes, aka the blue screen of death. These requirements are also in line with those for core applications people use for video conferencing, working and gaming, the post said. 

However, those who want to upgrade to Windows 11 on an older device that is not on the upgrade list will be able to do so manually, through either the Windows Insider program or Microsoft's Media Creation Tool (which has allowed many people to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free). But doing so means that Microsoft will not support that version of Windows 11. 

Microsoft is also rereleasing its PC Health Checker app for Windows Insiders on Friday, and the general population in the coming weeks. The app will now give more information about why your device may not be compatible, and where to go to figure out next steps. (We've got step-by-step instructions on how to use the PC Health Checker app and other ways to figure out if your PC will be compatible with Windows 11 here. If you're experiencing a TPM or Secure Boot issue, we've got instructions on how to enable TPM and Secure Boot, too.) 

If you aren't going to be able to download Windows 11 on your device, and don't want to buy a new Windows 11 PC, Microsoft will still support Windows 10 through October 2025. And the tool that allows many people to download Windows 10 for free still works. 

For more, here's how to download the Windows 11 preview for free, and what you'll need to do before you can install Windows 11.

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