Windows 11 System Requirements

It’s happening, and there isn’t much anyone can do about it. It’s got a lot of press recently, for the positives and the negatives. However, most of the press has been around the confusing nature of Windows 11 requirements, and what they mean for the end user.

Hopefully we can start to clear some of those up today!

Windows 11 Requirements:

The first thing we need to understand is what the requirements are, what they mean, who they relate to, and where you can find them.

There are two links which will cover almost all of those which you can find below-

General Windows 11 Requirements:

Windows 11 Specific CPU Requirements:

It’s very important to understand that these requirements are just the first list of requirements Microsoft has released for Windows 11. These requirements can be adjusted, changed, added to, or removed from going forward. Information in this post is taken from the date of writing the post (29/6/21).

The Key Requirements:

There are generally three things from the list of Windows 11 requirements that are causing the biggest issues, so we’ll take a deeper look at those in the hopes that we can clear them up and help you understand exactly what they mean.

UEFI:

UEFI is probably the easiest one on this list to get to grips with. Many PC builders are used to the Blue and Gray BIOS screen of options they could scroll through on their Keyboard arrow keys and change things up.

However, BIOS has been superseded by something called UEFI. This is a direct replacement for BIOS, this is not something you need to install, or change, or add, this comes straight on your Motherboard from the factory and has been happening for many years now.

The real big thing to take away from this, however, is that if your CPU is on the compatible CPU list from Microsoft for Windows 11, then your motherboard is going to be UEFI and you don’t need to think too much further.

The only times that this will start to get more difficult, is if you have legacy add in cards. For example extremely old Graphics cards which do not support UEFI, or old Add In cards for Serial / Parallel style connections which do not support UEFI. These cards have generally worked under UEFI using something called CSM (Compatibility Support Module) which is best thought of as an interpreter between old Legacy devices and UEFI. However, moving forward you should be looking at replacing these devices as many newer boards are no longer coming with CSM as an option as old Legacy devices are slowly phased out.

Secure Boot:

Secure boot can get really complicated really quickly, but it is essentially an option within UEFI to ensure that when your PC starts up, it checks that all of the Firmware drivers, Operating System, and any other EFI applications are “signed” and valid before allowing the Operating System to boot.

This essentially means during manufacture a known list of safe firmware drivers is stored into nonvolatile memory. Ensuring that at each boot, devices you have plugged into the unit are checked against this list, anything that does not match this list, or is not seen as safe causes the system to enter a recovery mode.

Imagine Secure Boot as a sort of passport control, allowing only safe passengers (devices / firmware) to boot on your system, mitigating the risk of letting something malicious in.

Windows 11 will require that your Motherboard be Secure Boot compatible. While as complicated and as confusing as that may sound, it’s actually extremely simple and very much like UEFI. Secure boot has been around for many years now, just as UEFI, and has been used by OEMs as part of their PC builds for a long time. You will pretty much find that if the CPU for your system is on the Windows 11 compatible CPU list, then the Motherboard you are using has UEFI, and Secure Boot as an option.

However, if you have built the machine yourself, or even if it was prebuilt, sometimes Secure Boot is not enabled by Default. This means that Windows 11 will not see it and believe that your system is incompatible. You will need to enable Secure Boot within your Motherboard UEFI to be compatible with Windows 11.

TPM:

Trusted Platform Modules are one of the things that have been around for an extremely long time and been used quite frequently within the Enterprise market for security. Microsoft, however, are pushing for this technology to now become front and center for end users, and not just businesses.

TPM’s are designed as a hardware security device, to protect your information such as Sign in Details, and they’re already a requirement for many Windows Sign in features such as Windows Hello.

They are extremely complicated in their use and how they work, but the primary way to think of them is as a swipe card. Imagine you’re trying to enter a secure building and you have a physical card you must swipe to verify it’s you. The information is exchanged between that swipe card and the scanner to check it’s okay and matches what it expects, and if it doesn’t throws an error or an alarm. Now imagine that to get access to new buildings, you were able to plug in your card and add new access codes to it so that in the future they can be checked by other scanners. On an absolute base level, that’s similar to how a TPM works, it’s that physical level of security.

At this moment in time there are generally two versions of TPM. 1.2 and then there is 2.0. Since the current requirements list 2.0, we will focus primarily on this. However, it is extremely important to know that a TPM is called a Trusted Platform Module for a reason, it started its life as a physical module you needed to plug into your Motherboard to enable cryptographic key sharing and authentication. TPM has moved a long way since this point, however, and now CPUs are able to perform the functions of a TPM without the need of any additional hardware. These are called Firmware TPMs and have different names whether you’re on Intel or AMD. Intel call this PTT (Platform Trust Technology) and AMD refer to these as fTPM (firmware TPM).

Much like Secure Boot, and UEFI, the big take away from this is that all the Processors listed on the Windows 11 CPU Compatibility List have TPM 2.0 built into the CPU themselves. This means that you do not need an add in piece of hardware for your Motherboard. Instead, you merely need to enable these two technologies on your Motherboard. For Intel, you need to enable PTT and for AMD you need to enable fTPM within your UEFI settings.

The Big Takeaways:

UEFI, Secure Boot, TPM. They’re all fancy terms for things that should already be available on any Motherboard used for any CPU on the Windows 11 Compatibility list. If your CPU is compatible with Windows 11, it’s extremely likely that these technologies are available on your Motherboard and you merely need to enable them in the case of Secure Boot and TPM (PTT / fTPM).

However, since these are Motherboard Specific Technologies, you will need to check your Motherboard Manual, and perhaps with the Manufacturer on where these settings are and how to enable them. There may even be some instances that even if your CPU can perform something like the TPM function, the motherboard manufacturer may not have added the switch to enable it in the UEFI Settings. This may require updating the Motherboard Firmware.

Windows 10 and the Future:

If your system does not meet the Windows 11 System Requirements, there is no need to rush. There is no need to run to buy new equipment or anything just yet. Windows 11 has only just been made available to Developers as a preview so they can test features and bugs before a full release later this year. However, even when it is released Windows 10 will still be getting support until 14/10/2025 giving it a good number of years left before support and updates begin to cease.

On top of this, the requirements list could easily change between now and release either expanding or contracting on CPU requirements, or any other requirements. Until Windows 11 hits its actual release date, there is no need to buy hardware just yet on these current requirements until they’re locked in.

Further Reading:

Please find a list of Microsoft and other Articles for most of the things discussed in this post, in case you’d like some extra reading!

Trusted Platform Module:

Secure Boot:

UEFI:

Windows 10 Support Dates:

Introducing Windows 11 Blog:

Developer Windows 11 Blog:

Reasoning on Windows 11 Requirements:

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