Windows 11 is putting enterprise PCs in a tough spot, says report

Windows 11 Install
Windows 11 Install (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Riverbed, a network solutions firm, published a report exploring the state of Windows 11 in the enterprise space.
  • The report's findings are "based on data aggregated from millions of employee devices from hundreds of global companies" all managed by Riverbed and its Aternity Digital Experience Management platform.
  • The findings indicate that over a third of enterprise devices aren't in a position to adopt Windows 11.

It was no secret that Windows 11 was going to have a particular effect on enterprise hardware. But now we have a better idea of what kind of concrete fallout has come with Microsoft's newest operating system, courtesy of networking solutions firm Riverbed.

Riverbed's report indicates that over a third of enterprise devices aren't ready for Windows 11 (via ZDNet. It claims that 23% can be upgraded to meet the operating system's requirements but that 12% are obsolete and unsalvageable. If you've been following Windows 11's system requirements and the debacles surrounding them, this next part won't come as a surprise to you: The leading cause of said figures is the operating system's TPM 2.0 cutoff.

But that's not all. Riverbed also found that almost one out of every five devices is going to need a storage buff as well in order to have the 64GB of available space that Windows 11 migrations demand.

Putting enterprise aside, plenty of regular consumers have also expressed issues with Windows 11's requirements. Those restrictions, as well as the operating system's core design (Start menu, anyone?) have proven divisive for a vocal subset of the Windows community. Not that that's stopping the OS. It's continuing its climb to dominance and there isn't a force in the world equipped to halt its progress, at present — unless the year of Linux kicks into overdrive.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

41 Comments
  • What is not reported is that this is probably the best time ever for Microsoft to establish this type of standard for a Windows upgrade in the enterprise. Due to Covid and the need to work remote, more desktops were traded in for laptops in the past two years than ever before. If it weren't for covid and the dramatic shift to enabling remote work the percentage of computers that would not support Windows 11 would be much higher and there would be not real incentive for businesses to upgrade. Also, the move to remote begs enterprises to use more secure machines that will be in a variety of environments.
  • Because enterprise is known for being early adopters.
  • It's been going really well in my company. Of course nobody has any device that's more than 3 years old, and our average device is only 2 years old, and essentially all of them meet all windows 11 requirements.
  • exactly, especially in enterprise, who has machines older than 3 years?
  • Hi, I think this is click bate really. I work in a fair size enterprise. Windows 10 is the OS deployed at the moment and it is unlikely to change in the near future. Enterprise are the slowest to adopt new versions of Windows. The push for TPM is positive as it improves the security position on the devices and is long overdue. Windows 10 is a good OS and 11 is not much of a step change. More of a challenge is the terrible management of the start menu and layouts. That all needs to be policy controlled and simplified to allow remote management.
  • Heh, I used the same computer for 8 years at the place I retired from (I was a software/firmware developer). They finally upgraded my machine about 9 months before I retired.
  • What recently formed startup do you work for?
  • We're talking about Enterprise, not startup.
  • My point is few companies can afford to turn their laptop assets every three years. Only fresh-out-the-gate companies have a current laptop fleet. Or they use Apple and don't have this problem.
  • I think your point stands separately from my point. And to solve that for those companies you're talking about; stay on 10. It's still there and supported and updated. It was on those pc's when they bought them. It still works and will work for years to come. By the time they need to be replaced, they'll have a machine with 11 on it. 🤷‍♂️
  • I'd like to see some numbers on how old the largest percentage of machines not capable of running windows 11 are. I think, the majority of those machines is at least 4 years old. If you add up the 5 years that Windows 10 will still be actively supported and updated, I don't see a problem. (Normal expected lifecycle for these machines is usually not more than 5 years) I can't charge my petrol-powered car at a supercharger either.
  • 5 yrs is the norm unless the dept has a lot of pull or happens to be HP, Dell, CDW etc.
  • Most mobile phones cost the same as a PC or laptop and all of them get no more than 5 years support... I don't see enterprise complaining about having to upgrade mobile phone hardware so what's the problem with upgrading to a Windows 11 compatible PC's and laptops... Enterprise can always stick with Windows 10 if their machines are not compatible with Windows 11 at this time and upgrade when support for Windows 10 ends...
  • Companies aren't generally giving out the top-spec, newest phones. They also are rarely managing their own software ecosystem for compatibility. At my work, we got base iPhone 11s on a bulk plan (so they probably were cheaper). For PCs, we have internal AND external legacy systems where compatibility is a factor. We have clients and servers to work about supporting too. Phones are just plug-and-play, relatively speaking. We don't have to manage user accounts and networked storage access.
  • Users manage phones; enterprise PCs get locked down. Phones get dropped, batteries fritz so replacement is accepted. Biz will replace old with new W10 PCs under Enterprise licensing in the meantime and cut over to W11 when their apps and PCs support it.
  • I am already dealing with the fact that only %5 of the machines at my job can upgrade. The rest are left out. Yes, I know most of them are older machines, but the strict requirements are kind of to strict. I have seen 9th gen Intel machines run slowed than a sloth on 11. My 1 personal machine has a 6th gen i5 and runs excellent (technical preview dev channel). Microsoft needs to think about this. It will make companies shell out tons of budget money to up grade
  • They don't have to upgrade. Windows 10 support won't end for several more years. And it will probably be extended for enterprise.
  • It's not large businesses that will have trouble, it will be small ones. At my office, we have 8 computers.
    Only one will be able to run Windows 11.
  • Good that windows 10 (what was on those pc's when your office bought them, and what your office was happy to work with) is still actively supported and upgraded. If by the time the support for windows 10 ends, your office still uses those machines, its time to find yourself a job at an actual company.
  • Until you work in an actual Enterprise IT dept. (a company with more than 5000 devices) you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to upgrading to Windows 11 so don't comment.
    The GPO changes alone are a nightmare as you must maintain your current management stance and software, but also MUST upgrade to Microsoft Intune and migrate a substantial portion of your Group Policies over to Intune to support W11 fully. You then have to segregate your non-W11 devices to continue using SCCM/WSUS/GPOs/whatever for management during the transition (which will take probably a year at least.)
    The Capital Costs will be enormous, and you STILL have to support the old stuff (XP, W2000, etc.) in the manufacturing locations because the automation hardware/software in use is no longer supported (and/or the company that wrote it is no longer in existence) and you MUST maintain the cash-flow from the cash-cows to keep the company afloat financially.
    Oh, and Management wants all of this to be done with ZERO DOWNTIME and ZERO DISTRUPTION to the business (and as cheaply as possible with no travel to the remote locations if possible) and especially ZERO DISRUPTION TO THEM and their stock prices.
    Welcome to Enterprise IT. (BTW - My company has over 25,000 devices in 500 locations globally.)
    It's a whole different ballgame at that level, and no, even we don't have much pull with Microsoft. They consider us a Mid-Level Enterprise so we get average IT price-breaks only.
    Only the AT&T's and Verizons and Samsungs of the world can make Microsoft change course on anything, grudgingly.
    MS wants all Enterprises to migrate to either MS 365/O365 or WVD/O365 and move all Server Farms into Azure (great idea, much harder than it sounds to Management.) They will help you with that. Otherwise, you are pretty much on your own to move to W11 on dedicated hardware where they will point you to a multitude of VARs for assistance (and billing.)
  • Excellent explanation Khaann
  • You don't need to segregate anything, Win10 and Win11 are managed by the same set of policies and Intune is more than enough to manage everything. A lot of words here but you obviously need some help from people like me... Hire a good M365 consultant and you'll see there is a light in the tunnel. Take care.
  • I think you mean "at the end of the tunnel," otherwise there's another train coming at you. :-)
  • I cannot agree more
  • Not true.
    There are a list of 25 (and growing) policies that W11 no longer supports, but are still required to manage older versions of Windows.
    In the W11 21H2 GPO Templates those are moved to a "Legacy" folder (assuming you are using a "Central Store" for Group Policies) and are still there, but MS recommends you apply WMI filters to them so they do not apply to W11 systems as MS states they can have "unintended consequences".
    It's just more GPO Maintenance overhead to deal with, not to mention the Intune piece and dealing with DSC (Desired State Configuration) scripts in a Hybrid-Azure AD environment.
    Fun! Fun! Fun!
    Testing becomes more important so you don't get "unintended consequences" with even minor changes.
  • Guess you need new machines.
  • Good look getting a new machine at a fair price. Give "Gas Semiconductors, Ukraine, Russia" a search on the internet. Taiwan is next. Honestly, there is an old computer game titled "Nuclear War" for the Amiga that comes to my mind. Guess it's time for me to get a new pair of sunglasses and a good lawn chair...
  • We have about 15K machines. Around 5K won’t run W11 but not because of the TPM stuff. It is about the processor generation. We had to hold the proc back for Win 7 reasons. The 5K all have a 6th gen processor. They also don’t have as much RAM. We do 16gig, 11th gen now and taking in an 8gig, 6th gen and replacing it with the new machine makes us popular with the users. With Teams and the added security overhead those older machines are terrible. I was able to obtain approval to accelerate the refresh for the 6th gen stuff. We normally do 4 year rolling refreshes. As we only started doing Win 10 in 2019 some of them are only 2+ years old. We have done the whole modern Win 10 stuff with Endpoint Manager (Intune) and autopilot for Win 10 including moving the gpo stuff to MEM we are in a good place for Win 11. We have about 300 machines running 11 and adding about 20 a week, but Win 10 is still the default build. I anticipate that when the fall build arrives we will make 11 the standard build for deployment.
  • Yeah that explanation, TPM, doesn't make sense. TPM is used primarily by enterprise. But they do tend to be on older hardware, so the 8th gen processor requirement is likely to be a challenge for many right now. Probably not though by the time Windows 10 goes out of support.
  • Confued by this post ide say more small business would struggle than enterprise ones as they will have newer computers. But that said how many upgrade their existing computers? Most of our customers upgrade when they buy a new one. Is it not the same for Mac OS where the older computers don't get the latest os?
  • I. Open "PC Health Check" on your current version of windows. At the very top there should be a "Introducing Windows 11" with a "Check Now" button. II. Click this "Check Now" and the PC Health Check will either tell you your PC is eligible for the upgrade, but if not why. If there are certain reasons why it is not eligible take note of these reasons on paper. III. While it is possible for a computer to not be eligible based on memory, storage, or processor speed. These requirements are not demanding a lot and should be easy to meet. This is good news because it means your less likely to have to buy a physical part, and install it in your PC. If you do get an eligibility error it's more likely for it to be a BIOs issue like having TPM 2.0 or trusted platform module Disabled. IV. If you do have this issue, or a similar one restart your computer. While the computer is starting up hit F12. This key may very from time to time, but look at the bottom right hand of your start up screen to see if it is F12 or another key such as F2 or Del. You must press this key before your computer starts in order to enter the PCs BIOs. Once your here browse around for your discrepancy as every bios is a little different. Example TPM 2.0, if you see the option for TPM 2.0 disabled, if you turn this over to enabled, and this was your PCs discrepancy. Your PC should now be eligible for the upgrade. V. After making all the requirement corrections in BIOs, reboot your computer and open PC Health Check after it starts. Again hit the "Check now" button under "Introducing Windows 11". If your PC is now compatible PC Health Check should tell you "Good News, Your PC is eligible." If not, again it should tell you why.
  • This doesn't always work. CSM enabled would state W11 is not compatible with my PC. Disabling CSM states it's compatible. However, upgrading the bios that introduced bios capsule functionality. Shows W11 is compatible with CSM enabled. Every users best port of call is the motherboard's manufacturers website for bios compatibility. I am no way in hell upgrading to W11 at the moment. However, I am laying the groundwork when in inevitably need to upgrade by cloning the o/s install on the main m.2 and upgrading that to W11. So it's already activated when i do a clean install on my main drive.
  • Let's talk about Win11 next year, when it's finished, hopefully.
    It's still a mess.
  • So is Windows 10 a mess to be honest, that is not finished either
  • A mess in what terms
  • The company I work for which is a pretty large UK national company only updated to Windows 10 just over 12 months ago with new Dell machines as well, i can't see them updating to Windows 11 for a while and if they have to get new hardware it could take a lot longer.
    They are still using Internet Exploder for a couple of things anyway, since Windows 11 don't have Internet Exploder, they will certainly not be updating for a long time.
  • I hope they are still not using activex... 😅.
  • 14.3.2022 I am tired of this and the restrictive Microsoft policies. I think I must consider not updating to Win 11 but using Linux instead.
  • Good for you bro
  • Get rid of the stinking TPM requirement before I get rid of Microsoft...
  • There is no rush for any of this nonsense. Windows 10 Enterprise will be supported until at least 2030.