System requirements for Windows 11: When does it work, why does it fail?

As part of the launch of Windows 11, Microsoft published the system requirements for the new operating system version. For a quick check whether the existing desktop PC or the notebook in use is suitable, Microsoft has a utility program with the awkward name PC integrity check provided, which reveals with one click whether Windows 11 will run.

The latter is not a matter of course: Although Windows 11 will generally come as a free upgrade for Windows 10, Windows 11 will not run on all systems that have previously been based on Windows 10. This mainly applies to systems that were released before Windows 10 (i.e. before 2015) and that have already been upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8 / 8.1 to Windows 10.

Windows 11 requires a dual core processor with at least 1 GHz – which is very frugal. However, the processor must also be able to handle 64 bits, which means that some older netbooks and tablets with small-core processors (such as the old Intel Atom) are not available. The lists published by Microsoft (AMD, Intel) include the officially supported models, but Windows 11 can also run on other (older) CPUs if the remaining environmental conditions are right.

What Microsoft only says implicitly: A system that is to be updated to Windows 11 must already be running in 64-bit mode. Unlike Windows 10, there will no longer be a 32-bit version of the operating system. This also only applies to older or self-installed systems: Anyone who has bought a device with Windows 10 preinstalled has received a 64-bit version – and even most Windows 8 / 8.1 devices already came with a 64-bit operating system delivered.

Of course, 32-bit applications will still be executable under 64-bit Windows, and 64-bit drivers should now also be available for most hardware.

Windows 11 search
(Picture: The Verge )

It should be 4 GB of RAM and at least 64 GB of mass storage for Windows 11. Neither of these things is overly exaggerated, but excludes inexpensive tablets from the Windows 8.x era that are equipped with 16 or 32 GB of lame eMMC storage. However, we had already warned against such devices so far, because it was not only too little storage space for the use: the upgrades to newer Windows 10 versions could only be carried out indirectly using connected USB sticks for data export.

Microsoft lists in the hardware requirements that a system compatible with Windows 11 requires UEFI firmware including Secure Boot and also a Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0). With notebooks and other complete systems that are supplied by PC manufacturers with Windows, this is not a stumbling block, but it is for old systems – and also newer ones that you have assembled yourself.

How strictly Microsoft will enforce the requirements cannot currently be assessed: The developer version of Windows 11 that leaked last week can be installed with trickery on systems without a separate TPM chip (or in virtual machines with only 2 GB of RAM), for example through the activation of the firmware TPM (fTPM), which at AMD and Intel runs via security coprocessors in the chipsets.

But that doesn’t mean that the final version will be the same in autumn: Microsoft says that Windows-Insider im Dev-Channel can test the new operating system on hardware that does not meet the minimum requirements – but only as long as Windows 11 has not been generally approved. After that, according to Microsoft, the systems must be set up again with Windows 10.

The new user interface of Windows 11 is based on transparency effects.

(Image: Microsoft)

We also have to wait and see for other aspects. Graphics drivers should be available in the WDDM 2.0 driver model introduced with Windows 10. Windows 10 itself also runs without problems with older WDDM 1.x drivers. Depending on the graphics driver, you may only have to accept visual restrictions: There are again many transparency effects in the new user interface – which at the time only worked with newer drivers and GPUs in Windows Vista.

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According to Microsoft, anyone who buys a device with Windows 11 Home needs an Internet connection and a Microsoft account for the initial setup. Microsoft would also like to have the latter with Windows 10, but the dialog can be bypassed by unplugging the network cable or not setting up WiFi for the time being.

This still works with the leaked version of Windows 11, but it cannot be ruled out that the account requirement will be more strictly enforced in the final version. Either way: It only applies to the home version, but not to Windows 11 Pro.

The new gaming features that were advertised in the Windows 11 presentation require hardware functions that go beyond the minimum requirements. In order to be able to use Auto-HDR, an HDR-compatible monitor is also required – for Windows 11 itself, any display with 720p resolution or more is sufficient.

The new DirectStorage, which is supposed to accelerate loading times in games, requires rapid SSDs and GPUs capable of ray tracing.

(Image: Microsoft)

And so that DirectStorage can accelerate the loading times of games, both a fast NVMe SSD with at least 1 TByte and a graphics card that supports DirectX 12 Ultimate must be on board. The latter is only possible with high-end GPUs from AMD and Nvidia that support ray tracing.


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