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Windows 11 updates arrive on unsupported PCs (for now)

Windows 11 Update Checkforupdate Dark
Windows 11 Update Checkforupdate Dark (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • During the buildup to Windows 11's release, Microsoft kept its wording vague regarding whether unsupported PCs would get Windows 11 updates.
  • Microsoft confirmed that users on unsupported devices would not be entitled to updates, though whether they'd receive any wasn't clarified.
  • Now, with Windows 11 having received its first slew of Patch Tuesday security updates, it's now confirmed that unsupported PCs running the operating system can stay up to date (for now).

Hullabaloo surrounding the Windows 11 update situation was ceaseless up until October 12, 2021, with many users wondering if they'd get updates while running Microsoft's newest operating system on unsupported devices. Microsoft's wording didn't help matters, only ever stating that unsupported devices weren't entitled to updates. But that didn't clarify whether users would be getting them regardless of entitlement status.

Now, with unsupported devices having survived Windows 11's first Patch Tuesday, it's confirmed that machines running Windows 11 got the chance to update, even if said devices weren't explicitly on Microsoft's good list. Reports on Reddit verify that unsupported devices were able to get in on the cumulative update goodness. Windows Central can also confirm that October 2021's cumulative updates appear on unsupported PCs.

For some, this development is a non-starter, since it was widely speculated Microsoft was wording things the way it was simply for legal protection purposes and didn't plan to withhold updates from people. However, many others weren't sure. For them, seeing was believing, and all that was being seen was a clear-cut lack of clarity from Microsoft.

The mystery of support can be put to rest for now, but there's no telling how long Microsoft will keep this up. It could cut updates for unsupported devices whenever, so keep an eye on what's what each time Patch Tuesday rolls around.

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.

28 Comments
  • I still don't understand the CPU requirement. It seems arbitrary and just another way to make devices obsolete.
    One of the things that was great about Windows is you could upgrade as long as your hardware could run it.
    If Surface Go 2 can run Windows 11, Surface Go 1 can as well. It has pretty much the same CPU. Also, my 6 years old Xeon workstation can definitely run it, but is not supported.
    That's a strange move by Microsoft. There is nothing good that come from dividing the ecosystem.
  • The older processors do not support the VBS requirements and also fundamental issues that could only be solved in Silicon. Remember SPECTER and Meltdown? If they build in capability to dumb it down, then that capability becomes an attack vector.
  • Microsoft already reported Windows 11 on unsupported PCs results in 52% more BSOD errors than supported ones. There are a lot of moving parts including DCH drivers, VBS requirements, Secure Boot, and TPM, which all help mitigate ransomware and vectored attacks that target the boot sequence via injection. It's been written about and explained many times. At this point any "I still don't understand ..." is veering into willful ignorance.
    "One of the things that was great about Windows is you could upgrade as long as your hardware could run it."
    You still can. And Windows 10 also blocked older CPUs, because none of this is new. Every version of Windows has CPU requirements.
  • one of the minimum requirements is a 2 core processor. my surfacebook has all the requirements but one. The core i5 processor (4 core) doesn't pass. Is there any 2 core processor that would satisfy the requirement?
  • Surface Book 2? Maybe it's only a matter to see your base speed is below 1 GHZ. I have an i5-10500 and that's the issue so far, but it should be able to be eligible for windows 11. On the official Microsoft page, Surface book 2 i5 is eligible https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/which-surface-devices-can-be...
  • There is nothing stopping you from installing W11. Go for it. Runs great on my SP4.
  • Please, Daniel, don't pass these percentage numbers. They mean next to nothing when looking at the other numbers and doing the math.
  • Except they do mean something. They mean that the decision was not arbitrary, for one thing. The number of BSODs may not be a big deal for any particular individual but Microsoft are dealing with every individual running Windows.
  • These BSOD errors are pure statistical deceits. As per article in The Verge: "But if you do the math, it means we’re going from a 2-in-1,000 chance of a BSOD to a 3-in-1,000 chance" https://www.theverge.com/22643275/windows-11-upgrade-system-requirements...
  • "veering into wilful ignorance" thats fanboy mentality. And you believe them?.
    If they know there are errors why dont they fix them?
    No one is going to praise a fish for swimming.
    If they want to be a global leader in OS system design, they will fix them.
    No one asked them to venture into this business.
    It's like a TV network supporting 4k and not HD then claim your TV will give errors.
    I have an unsupported intel i5-7Y54 mobile and a supported gaming laptop i7-9750H.
    Both have TPM 2.0. The supported i7 has always frozen randomly on chrome Edge even on Win10 and now 11.
    The i5-7Y54 tablet works everytime. Infact its the only PC i've owned that has never once shown an error of any kind, now on Win11.
    Its made by Hauwei BTW, which leads me to think politics are at play here. Trump is gone and these tech companies have to find creative ways to destroy the eastern brands. Which all have superior technical ability to Dell or HP.
    Or maybe going with google tech has compromised solid Windows code.
    Either way MS explanations wont fly.
  • (taps mic and repeats) You are not entitled to Windows 11. Your computer is licensed for Windows 10 support and updates, which is what you agreed to when you clicked "accept." If you don't like Microsoft's explanations you have plenty of choices including: Upgrading Windows 11 manually via ISO/MCT (problem solved) Not upgrading and using Windows 10 Switching to macOS or Chrome OS for your next hardware upgrade if you are that fed up
    "Its made by Hauwei BTW, which leads me to think politics are at play here. "
    This is preposterous. Huawei never sold enough laptops anywhere to be of consequence for such a decision. Microsoft sold Huawei's PC in its physical and online stores up until the ban.
    "and these tech companies have to find creative ways to destroy the eastern brands"
    And are Lenovo, Acer, ASUS, VAIO, etc. not "eastern brands?" They're all on board with Windows 11 upgrades for current and future devices. Lenovo, a Chinese company, is literally the #1 shipper of PCs in the world and one of Microsoft's biggest partners.
  • Constantly the same thing - they will always justify any Microsofts absurd :/ MS just ruined years of leveling the market to one Windows 10.
  • Oh please Daniel. Going by those same numbers, supported systems will provide a 99.8% crash free experience. That means 0.2% were crashes. How many of them were kernel mode crashes or BSODs? Let's assume all of them were. Now, unsupported systems have 52% more BSODs. Which means 1.52 * 0.2 % = 0.304% . Going solely by these numbers, unsupported systems should also provide 99.696% crash free experience. I will take that anyday.
  • How often a machine crashes has to do with the robustness of the hardware and what Drivers, Service and Applications are installed and run on the machine - and their respective robustness. You can be 100% Supported, but that won't stop a failing SSD or RAM Chip from bringing your machine down. Or a service or application with a bug from crashes - potentially bringing the machine down with it (particularly if it's a device driver). The issue with running Windows on an unsupported system is completely tangential to the reasons why Microsoft has enforced the system requirements for "Support." You can have a 100% uptime, but if your system lacks the necessary components to offer a secure computing environment... you'll have great uptime... but exponentially more attack surface. IMO, Microsoft should not have supported these systems - at all. I don't think the Windows user base - generally speaking - takes security as seriously as Linux and UNIX (incl. macOS) users. This is probably the smallest platform update in the History of Windows. I would stay on Windows 10 and just wait until I got a new PC to upgrade - assuming I didn't switch operating platforms entirely. Generally, the issues with drivers, etc. have been a known entity since forever; and I'll probably never buy another Windows Laptop again because they get less support than a budget Android phone.
  • "I don't think the Windows user base - generally speaking - takes security as seriously as Linux and UNIX (incl. macOS) users."
    Co-signed. Security for Windows users is like sitting for jury duty. They don't want to do it and find it boring. Meanwhile, Microsoft has a business to run where they're the #1 target for ransomware and advanced security threats.
  • BSODs are very rare nowadays. To say 50% more might induce you to false conclusions.
  • 52% more BSOD errors than supported ones, doesn't mean 52% of unsupported PCs get BSOD errors. If 2 out a million supported PCs get BSOD errors, 3 out a million unsupported ones do. That statistic doesn't imply it is a significant number.
  • Older CPUs: 1. May be vulnurable to Specter, Meltdown and their ilk. 2. Are often running on PCs that aren't on up-to-date drivers. These drivers cause far more crashes on Windows 11 than the newer drivers. This is a BIG issue for Laptops, which often needs OEM-certified driver packages. Trying to put Reference Intel GPU drivers on a 7th Gen Intel OEM Laptop often causes tons of issues - BSODs, Lockups, Tons of Driver Crashes/Restarts, etc. The dirty secret about Windows Laptops is that they're supported the way Android phones were in the Android 1.0 days. Once they're released, they're dropped from support as quickly as possible. This poses serious issues when a new OS version releases and the vendor refuses to upgraded to a more recent version of the certified drivers. My i7-7700HQ Laptop is stuck on 2018 Intel Graphics and Platform Drivers (ASUS ROG Gaming Laptop). There is NO WAY to upgrade them. I tried the reference drivers and got nothing but BSODs, Driver Crashes/Restarts, Sluggish Performance Everywhere, etc. These machines are designed for custom driver packages designed built and certified by the OEM. The issue is that most OEMs will never bother to do that after about 6 months post release... You'll get a year, if you're lucky. Microsoft is tired of Windows inheriting badness that is 100% the fault of OEMs who sell and support laptops the way Android device manufacturers sold and supported budget phone models in 2009. 3. Often ship with TPM turned off (sometimes Secure Boot, as well), and no toggle in the UEFI to enable them. OEMs aren't going to invest in developing updates for 10,000 Laptop models out there with this issue - especially considering how [potentially] dangerous a UEFI update can be. 4. There are some CPU features that aren't supported by the older CPUs. Features that Windows 11 needs there for functions it enables by default. Microsoft is no longer willing to ship with security features Disabled-by-Default because people do not turn them on - and they inherit the reputation for the result of that, even when the OS gives one the means to prevent it. Similar to how Windows XP machines shipped with Administrator accounts with Blank Passwords, which tons of Malware used to gain access to the system.
  • Can it be a first month thing because it's new? 🤔
  • I got the update on my Surface GO. It's running fine, for now.
  • Perhaps what Microsoft meant as "unsupported PCs" is that Microsoft will not invest resources to address issues faced by these PCs when running Windows 11, and not that the updates will not be pushed to them. To me, that may be the real meaning of unsupported. And this is also consistent with the comment that unsupported PCs encountered far more BSODs, and these BSODs on unsupported PCs will probably not be addressed or cannot be addressed.
  • Sounds like a very reasonable assessment. An extension of that is that Microsoft will create future updates for Windows 11 based on testing on supported PCs and will not take any responsibility for those updates breaking or even bricking devices that are not officially supported. It might not happen or not for a fair while but they will take no great precautions to ensure that it doesn't.
  • "Perhaps what Microsoft meant as "unsupported PCs" is that Microsoft will not invest resources to address issues faced by these PCs when running Windows 11, and not that the updates will not be pushed to them."
    Yup, that is how I would read it.
  • Valentin-Gabriel Radu deserves the Nobel Prize for this DLL that reverts Windows 11 taskbar back to Windows 10 with Quick Launch toolbar support. Plus, no Microsoft Widget, take that Microsoft.
    https://github.com/valinet/ExplorerPatcher
  • All those years with pushing everybody to constantly updated W10 for everyone - now wasted. I'm angry because in many cases PC is supported, laptop not - I won't update only one device in that scenario. Same for all people around me.
  • Unsupported Surface Book (2015) here. I upgraded to Win11 using the registry edit. I immediately felt performance improvements, the OS is pretty and smooth, I love the new snap features, and I even like the start menu even if overly simplified. However, I did see 5 BSOD crashes over the course of three days, even after Patch Tuesday. I decided to go back to Win10 as the upgrade doesn't seem worth the risk. I don't feel like I'm missing anything, yet.
  • You are missing the new emojis.
  • which those new emojis is UNIMPORTANT for most users so far, MS has been ALL BARK and NO BITE on withholding updates to unsupported Win11 systems.
    we'll see if these unsupported PCs get the first Win11 "feature update" (or not), next year in autumn 2022