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Microsoft open to lowering minimum CPU requirements for Windows 11

Windows 11 Icon Taskbar Razebook
Windows 11 Icon Taskbar Razebook (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft could potentially lower the minimum CPU requirements for Windows 11 to include 7th Gen Intel processors.
  • The company has pulled the PC Health Check app, which led to confusion regarding if PCs would be able to upgrade to Windows 11.
  • Microsoft outlines some of the controversial minimum system requirements for Windows 11 in a new blog post.

Microsoft's minimum requirements for Windows 11 stole some of the thunder of the new operating system's announcement. Many expressed frustration that their relatively new PCs wouldn't be able to upgrade. Microsoft addresses some of those concerns in a new blog post. Most importantly, the company could be open to allowing PCs with 7th Gen Intel and AMD Zen 1 chips to upgrade to Windows 11.

Microsoft will allow Windows Insiders to install Windows 11 on 7th generation processors. This will allow the company to get more data on performance and security.

As we already knew, the reasons for the minimum system requirements for Windows 11 are primarily related to security and performance. "We need a minimum system requirement that enables us to adapt software and hardware to keep pace with people's expectations," says Microsoft.

The company's requirement of a TPM 2.0 module has been controversial, but Microsoft explains that it is required for several security features. Our executive editor Daniel Rubino also broke down TPM recently. Today's news doesn't change anything regarding the TPM 2.0 requirement, but could affect the minimum CPU requirements for Windows 11.

Microsoft outlines three principles related to minimum requirements:

  1. Windows 11 raises the bar for security by requiring hardware that can enable protections like Windows Hello, Device Encryption, virtualization-based security (VBS), hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI) and Secure Boot. The combination of these features has been shown to reduce malware by 60% (opens in new tab) on tested devices. Windows 11 does this all supported CPUs having an embedded TPM, supporting secure boot, and supporting VBS and specific VBS capabilities (opens in new tab).
  2. Devices upgraded to Windows 11 will be in a supported and reliable state. By choosing CPUs that have adopted the new Windows Driver model (opens in new tab) and are supported by our OEM and silicon partners who are achieving a 99.8% crash free experience.
  3. Compatibility. Windows 11 is designed to be compatible with the apps you use. It has the fundamentals of >1GHz, 2-core processors, 4GB memory, and 64GB of storage, aligning with our minimum system requirements for Office and Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft states that it knows Intel 8th Gen, AMD Zen 2, and Qualcomm 7 and 8 series chips meet the above principles. The company is now testing if 7th Gen Intel and AMD Zen 1 chips can as well.

"As we release to Windows Insiders and partner with our OEMs, we will test to identify devices running on Intel 7th generation and AMD Zen 1 that may meet our principles," explains Microsoft.

Updated June 29, 2021: Microsoft removed statements regarding Intel 6th Gen and AMD pre-Zen chips not being able to meet its mentioned principles.

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Confusion regarding if systems could update to Windows 11 was made worse by a PC Health Check app that didn't let people know why their PC fell short of requirements. Microsoft updated the app to inform people why their system wouldn't be able to upgrade, but the company has now decided to pull the app altogether.

"Based on the feedback so far, we acknowledge that it was not fully prepared to share the level of detail or accuracy you expected from us on why a Windows 10 PC doesn't meet upgrade requirements," said Microsoft. "We are temporarily removing the app so that our teams can address the feedback. We will get it back online in preparation for general availability this fall."

If you'd like to see the first Insider build of Windows 11 in action, make sure to check back in to see our hands-on.

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 sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

31 Comments
  • Guess they finally got so sick of 'Windows Update broke my computer!' stories that they decided to just cut off anyone who they can't absolutely guarantee will have a good experience with Windows 11.
  • Yeah, I don't believe everyone with supported hardware will have an absolute guarantee of a good experience. This is Windows, after all. Microsoft has a history of bugs and bugs, backwards decisions disguised as progress, problematic and broken updates, privacy issues, etc. Sometimes it doesn't come down to the hardware, it's the decisions made during development of a software.
  • Yeah, me neither. Still, it's likely to cut down compatibility issues to some extent.
  • Hopefully Zen 1 will make the cut. I'm mentally exhausted from having to explain that the requirements are subject to change. Some folks have literally no concept of testing in software. If Zen 1 doesn't make the cut, I'm no longer making any budget pcs lol... too much aggravation. The same people have no qualms in spending a grand on a over priced piece of junk of a PC from a retail outlet.
  • I'm in the same boat with my Core i7s. Hopefully they make the cut too.
  • That's BS. A Core i7, even 6th gen, outperforms any 8th gen Core i3. What's the logic behind that?
    Also, why can the Surface Go 2 make it, but not the first one? It just seems Microsoft doesn't want to give the update for free. That's a wrong decision. What made Windows 10 popular was that nearly everyone got it for free.
    Also, I wonder how businesses will react as they sure as hell won't want to upgrade all their hardware just to get W11.
  • I believe it's all related to the Virtualization-Based Security (VBS) that they mention in blog post. The CPU extensions required for it don't perform well on older CPUs. So yes, while you're correct that a 6th-gen i7 out-performs an 8th gen Core i3, a 6th-gen i7 will likely run much slower on Windows 11 when compared to Windows 10. They want to avoid people upgrading to Windows 11, only to find that their computers suddenly run more slowly.
  • MS is literally manipulating he PC market in this scalper's era. I can see the Windows 10 users are planning to buy Mac.
  • "Curse Microsoft for making me buy new hardware, I shall buy a piece of hardware instead! That'll show 'em!" Seriously, if someone can buy a Mac, they can just buy a supported PC lol.
  • Lol! Well said.
    Personally, I'm not too offended by this. Dropping 5 year old machines and older from Win 11 support is not the end of the world. They can still run Win 10 fine so it's not like they lose functionality. This is a non-issue.
  • I think you've not read other people's comment in similar posts. I'm a Windows user and will happy to use Windows 10 on PC even after it LTS period.
  • Many people got frustrated because their latest system doesn't passed compatibility check.
  • Have, have you ever owned a Mac? You wanna talk about quickly making computers obsolete, that's Mac far more than Windows! Windows 8 was a huge attempt to unify every device regardless of form factor, but it didn't work for every form factor well enough/universally enough, so 10 helped to change/fix that. But with 10 came some obsoleting hardware/features which was also a big reason 8 struggled. I recall ppl trying to go from XP to 8 and ******** all the while. Where 8 aimed for unity, and 10 made it adaptable, 11 will (hopefully) refine both, and it will require some hw spec changes to get there. It's a big enough change to warrant an OS# change, and probably further rid old school features like classic Control Panel (RIP small icons view and "System")
  • Installing the Insider Preview on my 6th Gen Skylake desktop as I type this. It has TPU 2.0. We'll see how it goes.
  • I'm installing it on my i5-6300U Surface Book Gen 1 out of curiosity and maybe to prove a point 😉
  • Why no just leave it as it is for Windows 10 otherwise it's planned obsolescence.
  • I am running it on my Intel NUC7i3 and it is running fine.
  • Whoever the people are that are complaining, take a deep look in the mirror and consider why when Apple and Google does the same, it's magically "all right". The only difference is that they don't give you a reason at all, because who cares. If you are an early adopter, get supported hardware. If not, keep rocking Windows 10 til 2025. People want the cake and eat it too.
  • @Gabe Szabo Nah, some folks want the entire baked goods in the bakery and the uncooked ingredients too.... Lol...
  • This is an artificial limitation though and people don't like Google and other brands sub optimial support of their Android phones, people also don't like when Apple does **** like remove 32bit compatability. People just don't have an option but to deal with it.
  • Oh yeah no doubt 11 will not support 32bit at all! Ms stopped the shipping of 10 x86 but still allowed upgrades from older 7/8 machines. I'm sure after 6 years of freebie OS they're ready to move on
  • So typical of Windows users. A 5-year old phone dropped from Android updates is a non-issue, it does not even cause surprise. In fact, it may even be justified by the users. MS dropping 5-year old machines from the Win 11 update causes them to rise up in arms! And Win 10 is still serviced to 2025! Yet so much whining. It's just ridiculous.
  • The upgrade cycle for smartphones is a lot faster than for PCs. I upgrade my laptops every 4 years. I keep desktops for 5-7 years, because I can easily upgrade components like GPU, RAM, Storage, etc. Even GPUs I keep for 2-3 years. So, this is not a "typical Windows users" issue. This is an issue with an OS update putting 3-4 year old PCs out of support. That is too soon for a machine to lose OS update support. People often upgrade their smartphones ever 1-3 years, depending on how they're paying for it. Completely different ball game. If I didn't do music production and video editing, I could have kept my i7-7700HQ laptop for another 2 years and not skipped a beat.
  • I'm gonna bet they will end up supporting everything from a Core 2 Duo and up. Microsoft has nothing to gain from not allowing those people to upgrade, they only have things to lose.
  • Huh, mark this under, "duh, I told you so." They obviously were going to consider Insider testing data and make revisions before the launch, but of course the armchair commandos had to go ballistic right away. Why else would the Insider Builds be available to lower generation machines if they weren't gathering data for a reason?
  • Microsoft is again alienating it's devoted users just like it did when it dumped all the Windows Phone 7 users onto the side of the road and changed the OS structure with Windows Phone 8.
  • Not really... They support the widest range of HW, by far, even after making some changes to what min specs are. Btw for anyone who cares TPM2.0 came out in 2014. So likely a 5th gen core series and newer will support it 11. once the change to 14nm..
  • I tried the updated PC Health Check app and it told me my CPU was the reason why I couldn't upgrade. The weird thing is they had AMD Beema APU included in their list of supported CPUs and then suddenly it's not eligible - even though the raw specs cleared their minimum system requirements,
  • Hello to everyone. I am runnung Windows 11 on Core i7 950 X58 Sabertooth (LGA 1366) and so far everything is working fine.
  • I wish they will at least support 6th Gen Intel as well. So I can extend the life of my old Surface Book (which is almost the highest tier with GPU and 16GB or RAM) and give it to my relative, while having more modern OS that can take advantage of its form factor.
  • Well, at least we know why they call it Windows 11. Lol