Don't see the option to upgrade to Windows 11? These Intel drivers could be the reason why.

Surface Pro 8 Hero
Surface Pro 8 Hero (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has placed a compatibility hold on some PCs to prevent them from upgrading to Windows 11.
  • Drivers for certain Intel Smart Sound Technology can run into issues with Windows 11.
  • Upgrading to a newer Intel Smart Sound Technology driver should mitigate the issue and let people upgrade to Windows 11.

Microsoft recently placed a compatibility hold on some PCs to prevent them from upgrading to Windows 11. The move is to prevent potential issues that can arise when using specific Intel Smart Sound Technology (Intel SST) drivers on Windows 11. Affected systems won't see the option to upgrade to Windows 11 until they're running newer Intel SST drivers.

Microsoft outlines the known issue in a recently updated doc (opens in new tab).

"Intel and Microsoft have found incompatibility issues with certain versions of drivers for Intel Smart Sound Technology (Intel SST) and Windows 11," reads the doc. "Windows 11 devices with the affected Intel SST driver might receive an error with a blue screen."

"The affected driver will be named Intel Smart Sound Technology (Intel SST) Audio Controller under System Devices in Device Manager and have the file name IntcAudioBus.sys and a file version of and earlier or and earlier."

The compatibility hold has been put in place to safeguard the upgrade experience for devices with affected Intel SST drivers.

Microsoft details a workaround for the issue. PC owners can check with their device's manufacturer to see if an updated driver is available and then install it. The issue is resolved by updating Intel SST drivers to version and later or and later.

Assuming there aren't any other safeguards affecting your device, you should then be able to upgrade to Windows 11. Note that it can take up to 48 hours to see the option to upgrade after you've installed the latest Intel SST drivers.

Microsoft discourages people from manually upgrading to Windows 11 on affected PCs.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at (opens in new tab).

  • Maybe if Team Windows would actually find and upgrade the drivers, Windows 11 would be compatible. What the heck does Intel SST even do? Two days ago and after 6 months of using this new laptop, I finally found what has been causing my intermittent sound issues: this Intel Smart Sound Technology (Intel SST) driver. If Windows isn't' going to upgrade them automatically to working drivers, then they shouldn't even show up in Device Manager > Sound. They should be disabled. Specially since it appears to do absolutely nothing but cause problems.
  • AND ... finding this update for an affected device, Surface Book 2 in my case, is not easy. I'm 7th in line with MS support but it took me a while to get to that point. After running diagnostics to ensure nothing was wrong with my track pad, battery, display or keyboard I'm 7th in line, and have been for some time. How many people work in this support team? 1?
  • Wild that MS support needs to escalate to the hardware team to get an updated audio driver. I should expect a response by email in 2-3 hours. Wow. For a driver?
  • 5 hours later .... nuthin.
  • Generic response at 1 today providing a list of which machines qualify. Which the i7 book 2 does. No response to my reply, yet.
  • @IkeLeland: visit the Intel web site for details about Intel Smart Sound Technology: btw, disabling the Intel Smart Sound Technology controller driver will completely disable your onboard audio device, meaning no sound, no audio. simple as that