Will Microsoft break the trend with Windows 11 or will history repeat?

Windows 11 has been revealed and it certainly looks interesting, but history has a habit of repeating itself and past mistakes could mean this is one version of Windows you want to skip.

What’s all this about history? Well, just take a look at the previous versions of Windows and what many people thought of them.

Windows 98 – Good
Windows ME – Bad
Windows XP – Good
Windows Vista – Bad
Windows 7 – Good
Windows 8 – Bad
Windows 10 – Good
Windows 11 – ???

Given the alternating good/bad history of previous Windows releases, how do you think Windows 11 will be perceived? This is not just a couple of versions of Windows and the good/bad trend goes back to the previous century. It is a long- and well-established trend and alternate versions of Windows have been good and bad. If history repeats itself, Windows 11 will not be well received and many people could avoid it.

Introducing Windows 11
From Microsoft Windows 11 Livestream event

People stuck with Windows XP long after its use-by date and long after newer versions of Microsoft’s OS became available partly because people liked it and partly because it worked with the hardware they had, whereas the newer Vista did not. In fact, people sticking with XP and not upgrading to newer versions of Windows became a problem for Microsoft. It couldn’t persuade people to upgrade. The same was true of Windows 7 and it continued to be used in huge numbers even when Windows 8 was widely available.

Windows 10 is everywhere these days and while a few people still use older versions, Microsoft says that there are over 1.3 billion users of Windows 10. However, it could end up being like XP and 7 where people cling to it for years to come. It would not surprise me if some people were still using it in 2030, even though Microsoft has said it will not be updating it past 2025.

Windows 11 CPU problem

In the past, we only had to think about whether we had sufficient RAM and disk space for Windows. Providing we had at least the minimum, the OS would install. It might not be fast if we had a low powered CPU or limited GPU, but it would at least work.

Windows 11 is the first time that users have had to really think about what is on the motherboard of their PC. Do you have the right chips because if you don’t, you cannot upgrade to Windows 11, install it or run it. You will be locked out and with Windows 10 end-of-life so close at 2025, your PC’s usefulness could soon come to an end, locked in to an unsupported OS.

Microsoft has a list of supported processors for Windows 11 and if your PC’s is not on the list, you will not be able to run the new OS. The list is very long, but my PC’s Intel Core i7 CPU is not on the list.

Microsoft PC Health Check app for Windows

It seems that I have the wrong Intel Core i7 for Windows 11, even though it turbos up to well over 3 GHz. Since when did we have to worry about having the right model of CPU to run Windows? Am I just unlucky or are there others like me? Go to Settings > System > About to see your PC’s CPU model and see if it is on the list. Get Microsoft PC Health Check app to see if your PC can run Windows 11.

The Windows 11 TPM 2.0 problem

There are three broad markets for Windows and these are businesses, consumers and gamers. There are more, but let’s focus on the big three.

Consumers may find that their computer does not meet the minimum requirements for Windows 11 because of the requirement to have a TPM 2.0 chip. TPM (Trusted Platform Module) is not a requirement for Windows 10 Home, which has been the default OS on computers sold to consumers these past few years. It was not required on Windows 8 or 7 either. Windows will happily install and run without it.

This could cause what may be a serious problem for Microsoft. Because TPM is not needed for Windows 10, PC builders have had little incentive to include it in consumer PCs. Why bother with the time, effort and money required to include it when margins on hardware are so low anyway? Leave it out and save a few dollars on the build.

To be honest, I do not have any figures on the numbers of consumer PCs that do or don’t have a TPM 2.0 chip on the motherboard. Maybe it is a low number and is therefore insignificant, but, and this is just a guess, maybe it is quite a significant number. Many consumers might discover that they cannot install Windows 11. Even if I had the right CPU, the lack of TMP 2.0 rules out my PC anyway.

Some people have found that they do have TPM 2.0, but it is disabled in the computer’s BIOS. Enabling it makes the computer compatible. However, this is a geek tweak that involves changing the BIOS settings, which is easy for experts, but not for ordinary users. I wonder how many people will see that their PC is incompatible with Windows 11 and just accept it, not knowing about the BIOS tweak.

Gamers are in the same situation and because it is not a requirement, gaming PCs may not have TPM. Self-build DIY PCs are common with serious gamers, but how many bothered to include a TMP 2.0 chip on the motherboard? It may come by default with the motherboard and CPU they chose, but it may not.

Business computers are much more likely to have TPM because it is required for certain security features in Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows, like disk encryption. However, businesses are traditionally reluctant to install new versions of Windows until they have been tried and tested and a service pack or two has been released that fixes the bugs in the initial release.

All new releases of operating systems have bugs including Windows, Linux and macOS. Businesses will want to avoid a new version of Windows and they will stick with the better known and more stable Windows 10. Companies will not rush to install Windows 11 across their thousands of computers, some of which may be critical to their business.

The end result of all this is that businesses will be reluctant to install Windows 11 because it is new and untested and they are cautious. An unknown number of consumers and gamers will find they don’t have a TPM 2.0 chip or the right CPU. So who will use Windows 11? It seems likely that it will get off to a very slow start with most people sticking with Windows 10 for years to come, just as they did with 7 and XP.

Final thoughts

Right now, Windows 11 is just a beta and it is not finished and not on sale. There are months to go before it becomes available to the public and in that time anything could happen. Microsoft could change the requirements and do away with the need for TMP 2.0 in the Home edition tomorrow, next week or next month. This would allow consumers running Windows 10 Home to upgrade and it would get the new OS in the hands of a lot of people.

I have two computers running the latest version of Windows 10 and neither can run Windows 11. One has a Core i7 CPU, 8 GB RAM, 650 GB disk, NVIDIA graphics, fingerprint reader and touch screen. Windows 11 won’t install. The other is an Intel Mac running the latest Windows 10 in Boot Camp. It is not compatible with Windows 11.

I am crossing my fingers and hoping Microsoft changes the Windows 11 requirements to match Windows 10. Increasing the base requirements is fair enough and asking for more CPU power, more RAM and more disk space is fine, but those CPU and TPM 2.0 requirements are too harsh.

Right now, it looks like I will have to buy a new computer in order to run Windows 11. The trouble is, M1 Macs are really hot right now and offer far superior performance to Intel-powered computers, Mac or PC, for many tasks.

Intel claims that Intel powered computers are better than M1 powered Macs, and there is certainly more choice, more variety in designs and specifications, but are Intel PCs really better performers? While it is true that Intel does do better on some speed tests, M1 Macs beat Intel PCs (and Intel Macs) on many more tests and by a large margin on some. Overall, M1 Macs are really fast and you also have to bear in mind the speed of development of Apple’s chips. Yearly updates bring big performance improvements and this year we should see even faster chips, like the M1X.

If people need a new computer to run the latest OS or even to have one that will simply be supported beyond the next few years, an M1 or M1X powered Apple Mac is very tempting. However, it does not run Windows, never mind Windows 11. I am hoping that Microsoft will relax the hardware requirements for Windows 11 so it will run on my existing PCs. Failing that, I may give up Windows and Intel altogether and get an M1 Mac.

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