for the rest.Windows 11 will leave millions of PCs behind, and Microsoft is struggling to explain why
Microsoft’s big security push is complicated
Microsoft has had six years to prepare for the launch of Windows 11, but the company is still struggling to explain its new hardware requirements. Windows 11 will officially support Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake or Zen 2 CPUs and up, leaving behind millions of PCs that were sold during the launch of Windows 10.
It’s an unusual surprise if you purchased a new PC for Windows 10, or perhaps you have a perfectly capable machine that’s even older. Windows 11 will require Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake or Zen 2 CPUs and up, TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module) support, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.
Microsoft doesn’t typically enforce such specific processor requirements with Windows — with both Windows 8 and Windows 10 only requiring a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM (2GB for 64-bit), and 16GB of storage (20GB for 64-bit). Power users of Windows, and IT admins alike, have built up an expectation of being able to upgrade to the latest OS, regardless of what hardware they’re running. It looks like that’s about to end with Windows 11.
After much confusion last week, Microsoft attempted to explain its hardware requirements again yesterday, and it sounds like the main driver behind these changes is security. Coupled with Microsoft’s hardware requirements is a push to enable a more modern BIOS (UEFI) that supports features like Secure Boot and TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module).
When you combine TPM with some of the virtualization technologies that Microsoft uses in Windows, there’s an understandable security benefit that we’ve discussed in detail previously. Microsoft claims that a combination of Windows Hello, Device Encryption, virtualization-based security, hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI), and Secure Boot “has been shown to reduce malware by 60 percent.”
You obviously need modern hardware to enable all these protections, and Microsoft has been building toward this moment for years. TPM support has been a requirement for OEMs to gain Windows certification since around the release of Windows 10, but Microsoft hasn’t forced businesses or consumers to enable it.
Microsoft’s decision to force Windows 11 users into TPM, Secure Boot, and more comes at a pivotal moment for Windows. It’s Microsoft’s operating system that’s always caught up in ransomware and malware attacks, and things are only going to get worse if the level of Windows hardware security doesn’t go up a notch.
The war between wetware and hardware.
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More likely they'll move to a subscription system similar to Adobe Creative Cloud. Local installation but you have to pay the subscription fees and connect to their licensing on a regular basis or nothing works.