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What you need to know

  • Windows 11 is now generally available, though many are having a hard time upgrading due to the operating system's CPU and TPM requirements.
  • Those TPM requirements are an even bigger barrier for Chinese consumers.
  • Because foreign TPM chips are banned in China, many Chinese PC users cannot upgrade to Windows 11.

Microsoft is a company with a global reach, and it depends on that reach to maintain its business. As such, it's unlikely that the tech giant didn't know about China's TPM restrictions. The question then becomes, why have said restrictions not been fully addressed and accounted for on day one?

While the answer to that remains unknown, what is known is that China is not having an easy go with upgrading to Windows 11, primarily because foreign TPM chips are banned in the country and those chips are part of the requirements for Microsoft's latest OS.

According to William Li, a semiconductor analyst at Counterpoint Research, Microsoft is tactically skirting TPM requirement rules in certain cases (read: Chinese and Russian exceptions) (via South China Morning Post). But those exceptions are happening at a higher level than the average consumer, at least right now. Many Chinese consumers are stuck at a crossroads because their hardware doesn't have the green light for Windows 11 and they have no way to get the necessary TPM tech.

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The country's policy on TPM goes all the way back to 1999 as part of the long-running chipmaking war between the U.S. and China. China has opted for its own TPM equivalent rather than foreign variants (like the kind Microsoft is mandating for Windows 11). It goes with TCM, which stands for Trusted Cryptography Module.