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Windows 11: Everything you need to know


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July 12, 2021

"What's new in Windows 11? What are its minimum hardware requirements? When will your PC be eligible for the upgrade? I've got answers to your Windows 11 questions.

Microsoft took the wraps off of Windows 11 in a 45-minute online event, titled "What's next for Windows," held on June 24, 2021. A few days later, the company released the first preview of the new operating system for members of the Windows Insider Preview Program.

If you use a Windows PC at home or at work, how will this upgrade affect you? I've been collecting your questions and have assembled the answers here.

What is Windows 11?


At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, Windows 11 is the successor to Windows 10. It's built on the same core architecture as Windows 10; indeed, Microsoft could have chosen to deliver the new features in Windows 11 through a series of semi-annual feature updates to Windows 10 without a name change.

Instead, they chose to make this a good old-fashioned "big bang" release, with a new major version number and a laundry list of new features.

For starters, there's a new user experience, with refreshed colors and icons, major changes to the Start menu and taskbar, an extensive reworking of the Settings app, a Widgets pane designed to deliver bite-size chunks of news and reminders, and a greatly improved way to snap windows into position.

Hardware-assisted security, which has been an optional part of Windows 10, is now mandatory, which means Secure Boot and device encryption are available by default to protect against increasingly sophisticated online attacks.

If you've been unimpressed with the paltry selection of apps in the Microsoft Store, you're not alone. Windows 11 offers a major update to the Store, including the option for third-party developers to make their conventional Win32 desktop apps available for secure downloads through the Store.

And speaking of apps, Windows 11 will include a new Windows Subsystem for Android, allowing Android apps to run on the familiar Windows desktop. There's one catch, though: For now, at least, those apps will come from the Amazon app store, which also suffers from Paltry App Selection Syndrome. In theory, the availability of Android apps could expand in the future with the addition of more robust app repositories like the Samsung App Store or even (gasp!) the Google Play Store. That feature is not yet turned on in preview releases, and anyone with a long memory of Microsoft's experiments in this space has a right to be skeptical.

How often will Windows 11 get feature updates?

The most important change in the Windows 11 era isn't software at all. Instead, look at what Microsoft calls the servicing schedule, which will now produce feature updates once per year instead of adhering to the frenetic twice-a-year feature update schedule of Windows 10.

The support calendar (what Microsoft calls the Windows lifecycle) is pushed out as well, with Microsoft offering 24 months of support for Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Pro Education editions, instead of the current 18 months. IT staff in business and education environments can look forward to 36 months of support for Enterprise and Education editions. That's an improvement over the unusual tick-tock support schedule implemented for Windows 10, where only H2 releases get three full years of updates.

Security updates will continue to arrive monthly, on the second Tuesday of each month.

What are the minimum system requirements for Windows 11?


Unlike Windows 10, which was specifically designed to run on older hardware, Windows 11 requires relatively new hardware and will not install on older PCs. Most PCs designed and sold in 2019 or later will work with Windows 11, although there are some noteworthy exceptions.

Older hardware is less likely to pass Windows 11's stringent compatibility checks; Intel 7th Generation Core processors, for example, are not on the list of compatible CPUs, nor are PCs built using AMD Zen 1 processors. PCs purchased in 2016 or earlier are almost certain to be unsupported.

Windows 11 also requires a hardware security component called a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), along with UEFI firmware (no legacy BIOS allowed) and Secure Boot. Virtually all PCs designed and built since 2015 include TPM 2.0 support, although you might have to go into the firmware settings to enable it.

The published system requirements for Windows 11 are as follows:

  • Processor: 1 GHz or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC)
  • RAM: at least 4 GB
  • Storage: at least 64 GB of available storage
  • Security: TPM version 2.0, UEFI firmware, Secure Boot capable
  • Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver
  • Display: High definition (720p) display, 9" or greater monitor, 8 bits per color channel

Naturally, you'll need an internet connection to keep Windows 11 up-to-date and to download and use some features. Windows 11 Home edition requires an internet connection and a Microsoft Account to complete the out-of-box device setup; the option for a local account is now available only on business editions, where it's a necessary first step on the road to joining a PC to a Windows domain.

And this might be a good place to raise a farewell toast to 32-bit Windows, which is now officially retired. Windows 11 is available only as a 64-bit OS for 64-bit CPUs (32-bit Windows apps will continue to be supported, however)."

The article goes on to cover:

What's new in the Windows 11 user interface?

When will Windows 11 be released to the public?

What do I have to do to test Windows 11 today?

What happens if my system doesn't meet the minimum system requirements?

How much will Windows 11 cost?

Will Windows 11 run in a virtual machine?

Will my existing apps and hardware devices work with Windows 11?

All that and links to more with screenshots and info from my favorite and most knowledgeable Windows Expert, Ed Bott can be found in the article here:



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That's an excellent summary of what to expect with Windows 11.  Because this community of users tends to retain its hardware longer than most commercial users, I want to re-emphasize the fact that there will be a significant percentage of users who won't be able to upgrade to Windows 11 because their hardware isn't compatible with it. 

That's not the end of the world since there are plenty of people already running older versions of Windows  and it can be assumed that Microsoft will support Windows 10 for a number of more years but, it is fair to say that, software development going forward will be based on the Windows 11 platform and, at some time in the future, your older system running on Windows 10 may not be able to run the latest version of some piece software.  That may or may not be a big deal to you depending on how you use your computer.

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Exactly Joel. But they already said when they woill end support for Windows 10:

"Microsoft is ending support for Windows 10 on October 14th, 2025. It will mark just over 10 years since the operating system was first introduced. Microsoft revealed the retirement date for Windows 10 in an updated support life cycle page for the OS."

https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/14/22533018/microsoft-windows-10-end-support-date#:~:text=Microsoft is ending support for Windows 10 on,updated support life cycle page for the OS.

That is four years from now. Assuming few bought new today, that gives four years and whatever number of years you and they had your current systems.

With all the cyber criminals I won't risk running an unsupported OS. If I could not afford a new computer, or didn't want Windows 11, I would run a current Linux distro.

I have already gotten six years out of my Dell 2720 I bought refurbished by Dell in 2015 because I upgraded it to a 1 TB SSD and doubled the RAM... in four more years I will replace it with another 4k or Quad HD 27" AIO likely by Lenovo. My new Surface Pro 7+ will likely be upgraded to 11. But all the rest will likely be replaced anyway because of age. I hope MS figures a way for the Surface Go 2 s to move forward. I will end up with Two AIO main systems for me and Lynn. Two tablets , at least one with LTE. No back up desktops like now and one new mini PC bought new in 2025 for only the main TV, instead of the two now.

Hey! I might not be here either despite feeling great these days save for the back and neck which CBD helps a bunch.

So we are all good to October 14th, 2025.

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