What Happens If You Don't Meet Windows 11's Requirements?

PC users who fall short of Windows 11's hardware requirements will get hit with an automatic upgrade block, according to Microsoft.

An "Ask Microsoft Anything" (AMA) session from July covered, in part, questions about Windows 11 hardware and upgrades. Microsoft recently solidified the processor requirements to run Windows 11. PCs will mostly need eighth-generation processors (with a couple of exceptions) to run the OS and be supported. That requirement may mean that some 3-year-old PCs won't support a Windows 11 upgrade.

During the AMA session, Aria Carley, a program manager focused on the commercial management of Windows updates, explained that PC upgrades to Windows 11 will get blocked automatically if the upgrade requirements aren't met, which will occur before the OS bits get sent.

The automatic Windows 11 upgrade blockage, determined by Microsoft's telemetry information, is being done to assure a good user experience, she indicated:

We know it sucks that some aren't going to be eligible for Windows 11. But the great thing to remember is the reason we are doing that is to keep devices more productive, have a better experience and most importantly have better security than ever before, so that they can stay protected in the new workforce.

IT pros will be able to use Microsoft's Update Compliance or Endpoint Analytics tools, as well as a script that Microsoft will provide, to determine if devices are eligible for Windows 11 as well, she added.

Carley also advocated moving policies to the cloud as a better solution, such as using Microsoft Intune instead of Windows Server Update Services to manage PC updates. The reason is that the cloud-based policies can leverage Microsoft's Safeguard Holds capability, which blocks updates known to have problems.

It's possible to disable Safeguard Holds. However, doing so won't be a way to bypass a Windows 11 upgrade block, Carley explained.

"We're still going to block you from upgrading your device to an unsupported state since we really want to make sure that your devices stay supported and secure," she said.

Carley also touted Intune's Expedite feature to quickly deploy patches, without having to change configured update deferral policies.

Microsoft's odd "commercial preview" term, recently applied to Windows 11 and Windows 10 21H2 releases in the Windows Insider for Business program, was briefly explained by Carley:

Every release we have this thing called a "commercial preview release moment." And a commercial preview release moment is where we actually announce, "Hey, this version is ready for you, IT admins, to not only test but potentially deploy to one percent of your fleet or your organization." It's reached that level of stability.

There also was lots of advocacy during the talk for using Windows Autopilot for provisioning Windows 11 PCs.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.