Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Windows 11

Features | Downloads | Requirements | Upgrading
Windows Updates | Recovery

Windows 11 preview.

Released on October 4, 2021 Windows 11 support is available for 24 months after each annual feature update on consumer devices.

There remains no compelling reason to upgrade from Windows 10 — at least until support expires October 14, 2025.

If your company is still largely running Windows 10 and you're not at all sure when you'll move to Windows 11, you've got company. Slightly more than 89% reported that Windows 10 remains the key desktop operating system used in their network.

 

Then I asked the IT community what they're most looking forward to with the deployment of Windows 11. “Nothing” was the most popular answer.
Computerworld

While only Windows 11 will continue to get major feature updates, some useful features on Windows 10 are not available.

About Windows 11

Microsoft's Information

Microsoft Windows 11 resources include these basic pages:

Media Information

The media has been prolific in its reporting on Windows 11.

Not everything is positive.

If you aren't a fan of the News & Interests feature added in Windows 10, you may be less enamored with some of the other changes in Windows 11.

The Start menu is less customizable and less user-friendly. Sure, you can move things around, but unless you search for everything, you'll end up filling the task bar or desktop with anything you use on a regular basis.

Rather than improve productivity, changes to icons for tasks like copy and edit take getting used to. Right-clicking got more complicated, requiring additional clicks for no apparent reason other than to make it different.

Windows 11 Reviews

Windows 11 provides a calm and creative space where you can pursue your passions through a fresh experience. From a rejuvenated Start menu to new ways to connect to your favorite people, news, games, and content….
— Microsoft

When considering the free upgrade from Windows 10 on a supported device, be sure you're not losing productivity simply to get a “refreshed” interface.

Windows 11 looks nice, but that's not enough reason to upgrade on day one, either. After more than a week using Windows 11 day-to-day, I wouldn't recommend anyone install it today.

 

Almost none of Windows 11's promised big features are actually included right now, and no matter how promising a new version of Windows is, some launch day issues are inevitable.
PCGamer

Windows 11 is designed to handle some significant changes to future technology that Windows 10 is not.

Significant changes to the interface make the option to move to another operating system easier because you're facing a learning curve no matter which choice you make.

Most of these reviews have been updated since they were originally written:

Video Reviews

These reviews on YouTube have different focuses:

Working with Windows 11

These are some of the helpful hints and documentation that will get you started.

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Windows 11 Features

Certain documented Windows 11 features may require additional hardware that is either not available on your computer or may not have been supported under Windows 10 or earlier.

Windows 11 may have changed how it looks and improved some functions, but the transition from old-school Control Panel and many archaic menus are still in process.

Windows 11 has been accused of mimicking the Mac and Chromebook interface, with good reason.

Microsoft has decided to abandon much of its own years of interface design knowledge in favor of chasing a new competitor. Chrome OS only has under 3% of desktop OS market share with Windows over 75%, according to StatCounter — PCMag

As Macs and Chromebooks begin to merge their interface with iOS and Android systems, Microsoft is attempting to integrate those mobile systems into Windows with varying degrees of success.

Start Button in the Middle

The most obvious change is the modified Start Button which has moved to the middle as well as the way the opened Start Menu is laid out:

Windows 11 Start Menu
The open Start menu.

We put Start at the center and made it easier to quickly find what you need. Start utilizes the power of the cloud and Microsoft 365 to show you your recent files no matter what platform or device you were viewing them on earlier, even if it was on an Android or iOS device.
— Microsoft

There is the option to move the Start button to the left to make it similar to Windows 10 and earlier. Probably a bigger issue is the changes when you click on the Start button.

The ability to customize the Start menu is severely limited and you lose the ability to combine taskbar button when the taskbar is full. This would make it harder to switch between multiple Word documents or similar.

Some users are now pinning everything onto the taskbar to gain some control. Perhaps that is why Microsoft added an oveflow button to the taskbar.

The move to enhance touch devices rather than existing hardware echoes Vista where “innovation” trumped what the public wanted.

The centering makes sense in some cases. Specifically, for convertible or detachable laptops with a tablet mode, where it simply feels normal. But otherwise, the taskbar is a large downgrade.
Tom's Hardware

Third-party Fixes

Traditional desktop users may want to install Start11 (US$5.99) to replace the default Windows 11 Start menu with one more like that in Windows 10. This add-on was also popular when Windows 10 was launched to retain the experience people were used to with Windows 7.

Snap Improved

Snap is the one area that I think improved productivity compared to Windows 10 (virtually every other change in Windows 11 impedes productivity).

New in Windows 11, we're introducing Snap Layouts, Snap Groups and Desktops to provide an even more powerful way to multitask and stay on top of what you need to get done.

 

You can also create separate Desktops for each part of your life and customize them to your liking — imagine having a Desktop for work, gaming or school.
— Microsoft

Snap allows you to quickly compare content in multiple windows and is greatly improved in Windows 11. Multiple desktops, introduced in Windows 10, now offer additional options including remembering custom layouts for each desktop.

Widgets

Windows 11 brings you closer to the news and information you care about faster with Widgets — a new personalized feed powered by AI and best-in-class browser performance from Microsoft Edge.
— Microsoft

While more functional than they were in Vista, some widgets automatically run with Windows. Changing the settings requires you to sign in to your Microsoft Account.

When you open your personalized feed it slides across your screen like a sheet of glass so it doesn't disrupt what you're doing.
— Microsoft

Sorry, but “sliding across your screen” is the very definition of a distraction, just like the News & Interests function added to Windows 10 in 2021.

Stop Widgets from Starting with Windows

Click on Start ⇒ Settings ⇒ Personalization ⇒ Taskbar; then uncheck Widgets (and any other taskbar features you don't want).

Connecting With Others

Connecting with others has emerged as a priority from the pandemic.

The past 18 months brought an incredible shift in how we used our PCs; we went from fitting the PC into our lives to trying to fit our whole lives into the PC. Our devices weren't just where we went for meetings, classes and to get things done, but where we came to play games with friends, binge watch our favorite shows and, perhaps most meaningfully, connect with one another.
— Microsoft

Microsoft Teams Embedded

Windows 11 has embedded Microsoft Teams call and chat into the desktop. While free, it is unlike to be used outside of business.

Most people are using Zoom or Facebook for their virtual connections.

Gaming

Windows 11 aimed to become an excellent platform for gaming by embedding Xbox.

If you're a gamer, Windows 11 is made for you.

 

Windows 11 unlocks the full potential of your system's hardware, putting some of the latest gaming technology to work for you.
— Microsoft

Microsoft launches a screen at launch asking you to sign up for Game Pass using the Xbox app (which launches automatically with Windows).

Unless you're a Xbox gamer, the forced inclusion of Xbox and its leader boards is simply annoying.

Stop Xbox from Starting with Windows

To stop this, right-click the Xbox app icon in the taskbar then select Settings from the context menu. Under the General tab, uncheck the “automatically launch app at startup” box. Check other settings while you're there.

You can also use CCleaner's uninstaller to remove Xbox and its related settings since some uninstall options are greyed out by Microsoft.

Security

Windows 11 is also secure by design, with new built-in security technologies that will add protection from the chip to the cloud, while enabling productivity and new experiences. Windows 11 provides a Zero Trust-ready operating system to protect data and access across devices.
— Microsoft

While Windows 11 can take advantage of recent hardware and software security improvements, that doesn't justify Microsoft's claims (they claimed the same for Windows 10 when it launched).

Improved Windows 11 security requires encryption based upon TPM and SecureBoot being enabled as well as encrypting your whole drive with bitlocker.

Since there are documented hacks to get around these security features you still need a good security suite.

Window's built-in security system is a nice fallback, but not up to the task of protecting you from all of today's threats:

Not only is Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center baked into the operating system, it automatically takes over protection when it detects no other antivirus, and just as automatically steps aside when you install third-party protection.

 

The thing is, this built-in antivirus just doesn't compare with the best third-party solutions. Even the best free ones are way better than Windows Defender. Don't rely on it; you can do better.
PCMag

ZoneAlarm Update Required

Existing users of ZoneAlarm Extreme need to move to ZoneAlarm Extreme NextGen because legacy ZoneAlarm Extreme is unsupported on Windows 11.

Switching to NextGen may require contacting ZoneAlarm support if your registration key fails to work (it requires the six-digit mobile key, not the much longer ZoneAlarm Extreme key).

The latest NextGen-based ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall will also run on Windows 11.

  • ZoneAlarm should be uninstalled prior to your upgrade to Windows 11 then compatible products reinstalled.
  • If you're using another product, you'll need to ensure that it supports Windows 11 and determine if it can be safely upgraded in place.

I was less impressed with NextGen compared with ZoneAlarm Extreme Security and ZoneAlarm is no longer installed on my computers. I found it too dumbed-down for advanced users.

If you're looking for a very simple interface with little or no interaction on your part, NextGen may work out well for you.

What About Privacy?

Privacy is not a Microsoft priority. Windows 11 continues big tech's trend of indiscriminate collection of personal information.

In our heavily connected, heavily surveilled world, anxiety about government and big tech overreach is at a fever pitch. And Microsoft has increasingly fallen on the wrong side of this argument.

 

Microsoft has already been criticized extensively for the amount of data Windows 10 feeds back to the company, and it looks as though Windows 11 will continue the trend.
Windows Central

Check Privacy Settings

While your privacy settings should be imported from Windows 10 when you upgrade, verify those settings after you complete Windows 11 setup.

While it may be convenient to have your Edge bookmarks, photos, documents and other personal data synced between devices, there is a privacy cost.

Even though I created a local account on my Windows 10 installations, I've noticed that Microsoft is tracking much more on my Windows 10 computer since I installed Microsoft 365.

Microsoft Edge Forced

Updates after launch now force users to use Microsoft Edge for many tasks that you could use any browser in Windows 10:

Microsoft uses microsoft-edge:// links instead of https:// for specific features in Windows, like links to online news, weather, or Start Menu search results.
PCMag
These aren't the actions of an attentive company that cares about its product anymore. Microsoft isn't a good steward of the Windows operating system. They're prioritizing ads, bundleware, and service subscriptions over their users' productivity.
Daniel Aleksandersen

I feel that Mozilla Firefox is better from a privacy and safety point of view. However, I would recommend using Edge rather than Google Chrome as there are more privacy controls, especially if you install DuckDuckGo privacy addons.

Microsoft Account Required

By default, Windows 11 won't install until you log into your Microsoft Account.

This is not unique to Windows. Neither Apple or Google charge for their operating systems (including for upgrades) but require you to sign into your Apple or Google account to run those operating systems.

Initially only Windows 11 Home had this requirement, but Windows 11 Pro will require that as well.

Microsoft has decided that anyone installing Windows 11 Pro will need to create a Microsoft Account and have an active internet connection during setup. There will be no way to bypass them going forward.
PCMag

By default, Microsoft will only allow you to install and run Windows 11 from a a local account after setup is complete. You still need to sign into a Microsoft Account during installation.

Microsoft Account Work-around

There are several ways to get around this requirement for a Microsoft Account when setting up a computer.

Since many require third-party utilities or use of the command line, this work-around is the easiest:

  1. Proceed with the normal setup until you see the prompt to log into your Microsoft Account.
  2. Enter a random username (it won't be used) then click Next.
  3. Enter a random password (it won't be used) then click Sign in repeatedly until see a message saying “Oops, something went wrong.” Click Next.
  4. Enter the username you want for your local account. Click Next.
  5. Enter the password you want (you will need to remember this one). Click Next.
  6. Answer the three security questions so you can recover a lost password.
  7. Complete the rest of your setup.

You can also try one of these sources for hints:

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Windows 11 Downloads

Ready to install Windows 11? Be sure that your computer will support it and prepare for recovery in case something goes wrong.

If you wish to run a local account without being signed into your Microsoft Account, you need to employ a work-around.

There are three options below for installing or creating Windows 11 media:

  1. Windows 11 Installation Assistant
  2. Create Windows 11 Installation Media
  3. Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO)

All three options are included on Microsoft's Windows 11 download page. I strongly recommend reading the warnings and recommendations for each (the “before you begin” section) before choosing.

Windows 11 Installation Assistant

This is Microsoft's recommended option for upgrading your Windows 10 computer to Windows 11.

The installation assistant only works on 64-bit Intel hardware (it doesn't work on ARM-based PCs).

Create Windows 11 Installation Media

This option allows you to perform a reinstall or a clean install of Windows 11 on a new or used PC.

Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO)

This option is for users that want to create a bootable installation media (USB flash drive, DVD) or create a virtual machine (.ISO file) to install Windows 11. Your product key will unlock the correct edition.

Installation on Unqualified Hardware

While you can bypass the TPM 2.0 requirements, Microsoft advises against doing so when assessed for Windows 11:

This PC doesn't meet the minimum system requirements for running Windows 11 - these requirements help ensure a more reliable and higher quality experience. Installing Windows 11 on this PC is not recommended and may result in compatibility issues. If you proceed with installing Windows 11, your PC will no longer be supported and won't be entitled to receive updates. Damages to your PC due to lack of compatibility aren't covered under the manufacturer warranty.
Microsoft

Problems Installing from Windows 10 Home Upgraded to Pro

Most consumer computers are preinstalled with Windows Home edition.

If you upgraded a Windows 10 Home machine to Pro, the upgrade may not recognize the Pro status of your new Windows 11 system during the upgrade (or perhaps after) including the requirement to be connected to your Windows Account before you can install Windows 11.

Even after upgrading to Pro, PCs that start with Windows Home can retain several critical Home limitations that royally foul up future from-scratch reinstalls and upgrades.
Fred Langa

More Options

The following resources discuss how to download and install Windows 11:

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System Requirements

Minimum Requirements Demanding

Windows 11 minimum system requirements are virtually the same as they were for Windows 10 except for these significant requirements:

  1. at least an 8th gen processor; and
  2. a TPM security chip which must be Secure Boot capable.

You may need to change the way your hard drive is formatted as well as ensuring that your computer is running Secure Boot on the UEFI boot environment.

PCs more than a couple of years old may be unable to upgrade.

Since launching Windows 10…a lot of hardware innovation has happened in the PC space. For Windows to move forward and take better advantage of the latest innovations, we need to update the baseline system requirements for modern PCs.
— Microsoft Blog

It may be possible to enable Secure Boot and the TPM if the necessary hardware is present or installable. You usually need to access your boot environment to enable these features, possibly requiring an update to the firmware.

By requiring Secure Boot and a TPM 2.0 chip, Windows 11 totally neutralizes a whole class of malware attacks, attacks that gain total control over the computer by subverting the Windows boot process or getting into the system before bootup.
PCMag

However, the requirement for an 8th gen processor is harder to get around.

To be clear, Windows 11 runs well on older hardware. It is not like older Intel 6th Gen processors cannot handle the OS — far from it. This discussion is all about security.
Windows Central

Minimum System Requirements

The minimum system requirements have changed since the initial announcement:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Storage: 64 GB or larger storage device*
  • System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable
  • TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
  • Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
  • Display: High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9" diagonally, 8 bits per color channel
  • Internet connection: Windows 11 Home edition requires internet connectivity and a Microsoft Account to complete device setup on first use. A Microsoft Account is required for some features.

*Plus storage to keep Windows 11 up to date.

Microsoft lists additional requirements for updates, as well as requirements to turn on specific features within the OS.

About Windows 11 Built-in Encryption

More than anything, this will provide for upgraded built-in encryption denied to Windows 10 Home users.

Windows 11 raises the bar for security by requiring hardware that can enable protections like Windows Hello, Device Encryption, virtualization-based security (VBS), hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI) and Secure Boot. The combination of these features has been shown to reduce malware by 60% on tested devices.
— Microsoft

However, it is not going to be a panacea.

Secure Boot makes it harder for an attacker to modify the OS or tamper with specific system files. However, it certainly doesn't prevent all malware or ransomware from getting on your computer and working.

 

While it improves the security of a device, some attacks and malware still work fine on TPM protected systems.
Forbes

One example is a zero-day elevation of privilege vulnerability in Microsoft Windows Installer where even a fully-patched Windows 11 machine is vulnerable.

Very Recent CPU Needed

Although not clearly indicated by the specs, the processor must be very recent.

Systems with older generation processors may fail Microsoft's Windows 11 compatibility test even though they appear to meet the minimum listed in the specs.

Notice these processor's “generation” (Gen) in the official assessments:

Windows 11 will only officially support 8th Gen and newer Intel Core processors, alongside Apollo Lake and newer Pentium and Celeron processors.
The Verge

Microsoft has two listings of supported processors:

Windows 11 is intended to work better on newer hardware, but not at the cost of retaining legacy support.

Trusted Platform Module

The biggest obstacle for most people with be the presence of a Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) running in a UEFI Secure Boot environment.

What is TPM?

The Trusted Platform Modules (TPM) is a chip that is either integrated into your PC's motherboard or added separately into the CPU. Its purpose is to protect encryption keys, user credentials, and other sensitive data behind a hardware barrier so that malware and attackers can't access or tamper with that data.
The Verge

TPM 2.0 is a requirement for encryption on sensitive computers like those used by the military. Few consumers have either that requirement nor the inclination to run it.

A Practical Guide to TPM 2.0 on Your PC (PDF) by Will Arthur and David Challener is a technical read, but provides insight into what TPM 2.0 does and how it works.

You may need to activate the TPM in your computer, something that may stump many consumers.

TPM Requirements May Be Hard to Meet

TPM 2.0 may be the hardest requirement to meet.

While many modern laptops have a TPM 2.0 chip, desktop motherboards do not.
Notebook check

While third-party TPMs are available, they can be tricky to install.

Checking the TPM Status

To check if your PC has TPM and if it is active, enter TPM into Windows 10 search box then click on Security Processor from within the search results. If present, ensure that it is TPM 2.0.

Enabling TPM

Your TPM may be turned off. This requires messing with the computer's BIOS to enable it, something many home users are uncomfortable with.

You may need to enable TPM 2.0 on your computer before you're able to upgrade to Windows 11.

Our PC was only Windows 11-eligible after we went into our PC's BIOS settings, and activated the TPM firmware—a process that may be too technical for the average consumer.
PCMag

Intel CSME

Intel supports TPM within their Converged Security and Management Engine (CSME).

If your machine does not have a dedicated TPM chip, your CPU may have an equivalent built in. Specifically, Intel integrates Platform Trust Technology (Intel PTT) in its modern processors, while AMD uses something called PSP fTPM.
Notebook check

Firmware Updates

[I]f you have a TPM 1.2 chip, this can likely be upgraded to TPM 2.0 by way of a firmware update from the computer vendor at no cost.
Forbes

Bypassing TPM 2.0 Requirements

You can bypass the TMP 2.0 requirement if your computer has TPM 1.2.

[I]f your computer has TPM 1.2 (which is incredibly old) and at least a 1GHz processor, you can still get Windows 11; it is just “not advised.”
Windows Central

Be aware that this may risk your Windows 11 losing support at any time and may damage hardware that isn't up to the task.

This PC doesn't meet the minimum system requirements for running Windows 11 - these requirements help ensure a more reliable and higher quality experience. Installing Windows 11 on this PC is not recommended and may result in compatibility issues. If you proceed with installing Windows 11, your PC will no longer be supported and won't be entitled to receive updates. Damages to your PC due to lack of compatibility aren't covered under the manufacturer warranty.
Microsoft

This work-around could cause you to lose support at any time and you will be unable to return to Windows 10 after only ten days.

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Upgrading to Windows 11

You can get Windows 11 either by purchasing a new computer or as a free upgrade from Windows 10, provided your device meets some significant system requirements.

Windows 10 Home users (but not Pro) will also be required to log onto your Microsoft Account when installing Windows 11 (you can create a local account following installation).

Upgrading via Windows Update

The safest way to upgrade is to wait until Windows Update tells you that your Windows 10 computer can be safely upgraded to Windows 11.

Not Everyone Can Upgrade

Windows 11 minimum system requirements are virtually the same as they were for Windows 10 except for these three demanding requirements: a very modern 8th generation processor combined with a TPM 2.0 security chip that is Secure Boot capable.

Windows 10 computers purchased more than two years ago will not upgradable.

Is Your Device Ready?

If your hardware meets the system requirements and Microsoft feels your hardware can be safely upgraded, then you may see a notice like the following in Windows Update:

Notice that a Windows 11 upgrade is available through Windows Update.

If an upgrade to Windows 11 is NOT supported by your hardware, then you may see a notice like this:

Notice that a Windows 11 upgrade is not currently supported.

Once you move to Windows 11 you only have 10 days to return to Windows 10. If, for any reason, your Windows 11 becomes unsupported you're stuck buying a new computer.

Before proceeding, consider what can go wrong and prepare your computer for recovery.

Running Microsoft's PC Health Check app can verify eligibility.

Supported Lifetime of the Device

The Modern Lifestyle Policy requires that you continually maintain Windows 11 feature updates and meet other criteria to retain support.

New versions of Windows 11 will be released once per year. Customers should always install the latest version before the current version reaches end of servicing to remain supported by Microsoft.
Microsoft

This is currently defined as 24 months of support for each of the annual updates for Home and Pro versions (36 months for enterprise and education versions).

Specific hardware no longer supported by the manufacturer may also mark the end of support for Windows 11 by Microsoft.

Should You Upgrade?

It depends. Only you can determine if and when upgrading to Windows 11 is right for you.

Windows 11 is based upon Windows 10, but Microsoft has made some major changes to many basic functions that will take time to get used to.

Some changes are sure to frustrate users, and in terms of new features, there isn't much hiding behind this new coat of paint.
Laptop Mag

Hardware Influences Options

Your decision to upgrade, purchase a new Windows 11 system, or move to an alternative is greatly influenced by your current hardware.

Because Windows 11 is, at its heart, a feature upgrade to Windows 10, most devices and apps that are compatible with Windows 10 should work after the upgrade. But "most" is not "all," and you'll be unable to get any work done while you're undoing the upgrade and restoring your system to its previous operating system.
ZDNet

Is Your Software Supported?

Not all software will upgrade to Windows 11 and Microsoft may remove some products in the process. Be sure to have backups and the license keys just in case.

Most ZoneAlarm products do NOT work with Windows 11 (uninstall them prior to upgrading then install ZoneAlarm Extreme Security NextGen after the upgrade is complete. More…

Recent Hardware Ensures Decent Experience

The more recent your computer, the more likely you are to have a decent Windows 11 experience.

Some new features are attractive, especially for gamers and those that like to customize their experience. While a new computer may run slightly faster with Windows 11, some older computers are reported to be running slower than they did with Windows 10 (as much as 40% slower when emulating TPM tasks).

You'll have 10 days to revert back to Windows 10 if you change your mind. After that, you'll be locked into Windows 11.

Microsoft Recommends a New Computer

Microsoft is looking for users to purchase a new computer rather than upgrading from Windows 10. Not only will that ensure a smoother transition but will also avoid unseen bugs on untested hardware.

The only reason for Windows 11 appears to be to promote hardware sales. There is little that is innovative and much that is annoying.

Windows 11 may be faster on recent hardware that offers improved security mostly because those new security measures require more processing power than older hardware is capable of providing while emulating the TPM 2.0 security.

Continuing with Windows 10

If your current Windows 10 computer is providing everything you need but is incapable of upgrading to Windows 11, consider remaining where you are. Some of the new features can be added to Windows 10 and you will continue to get updates for a few more years.

For those with minimal requirements (surfing the Web, email, smaller documents, etc.) the upgrade path may be less attractive — especially if you need to purchase a new computer to run Windows 11.

Windows 10 will continue to be supported until October 14, 2025.

Staying with Windows 10 makes sense for the time being unless you're willing to spend time learning your way around Windows 11. You'll remain more productive and you can always upgrade later if your computer supports it.

At the very least you can delay purchasing a new computer while supply issues are keeping prices higher than normal.

Don't Want to Upgrade to Windows 11?

Windows 11 prompts (or an unrequested update to Windows 11) can be stopped using Steve Gibson's InControl.

There is also an option to add (and later remove) Registry keys that will block updating to Windows 11.

In either case you need to be careful that you don't avoid necessary update or lose your Windows 10 license because you failed to update.

Alternatives to Windows

If your computer cannot run Windows 10 or if you lose support, you will need to seek out an alternative solution.

If your computer won't support Windows 11, Linux can be installed on your current hardware once Windows 10 support expires in 2025.

Is Your PC Ready?

Many PCs that are less than four years old may eventually be able to upgrade to Windows 11.

To check if your current Windows 10 PC is eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11, download Microsoft's PC Health Check app.

  • It will download automatically.
  • Early versions got details wrong without explaining why your computer doesn't meet specific requirements.
  • The most recent version provides more information.

WhyNotWin11 is More Precise

There is also app available on GitHub which more provides details on why your PC cannot upgrade to Windows 11. The results for my desktop computer:

The WhyNotWin11 results screen.

My Intel Core i5 6400 @ 2.70GHz CPU is probably capable of running Windows 11, but is not on Microsoft's processor list and doesn't meet the 8th generation rating. There is a space for a TPM on my 2015 ASUS motherboard but no chip is present. I may be able to add one in the future if availability improves, but it is likely that I'm stuck on Windows 10. Secure boot is already enabled.

 

Windows Updates

Don't let your Windows 11 licence expire. You must keep it updated.

Windows 11 requires a currently supported version installed on supported hardware.

Support expires:

  • 18 months for Home and Pro editions; and
  • 30 months for Enterprise and Education editions.

Dates on this page will reflect Home and Pro editions.

Expect frequent security updates, at least once per month and as often as three times.

Feature Updates

Windows 11 “feature updates” are annual.

  • 21H2 on October 4, 2021.
  • 22H2 on September 20, 2022.

What Version?

Your Windows 11 version is its latest feature update.

Look for the version using one of these methods:

Run WinVer:

  1. Press the Windows key + R
  2. type winver in the Open box
  3. select OK

Open About in settings:

StartSettingsSystemAbout

Look for the version information under Windows Specifications.

Fall 2022 Update

Update 22H2 was released on September 20, 2022. Installation is recommended.

Support for 22H2 will expire on October 14, 2024.

We are entering a new phase of the rollout for Windows 11, version 22H2 and we are increasing its availability to all who check for updates on eligible Windows devices.
— Microsoft

What's New?

Microsoft information about Windows 11 Update 22H2:

Issues

There update won't be offered if Microsoft Windows Update detects a potential problem.

Note that, if we detect that your device might have an issue, such as an application incompatibility, we might put a safeguard hold in place and not offer the update until that issue is resolved.
— Microsoft

Reported problems with updating to 22H2 include printer issues, blue screens on some Intel systems, remote desktop issues and Windows Hello issues.

Learn More

Original Release

Update 21H2 was released on October 4, 2021 (the official release version of Windows 11).

Support for 21H2 will expire on October 11, 2023.

Learn More

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Windows 11 Recovery

Preparing for Disaster

There are bound to be some issues with any new version of Windows (or major update) no matter how carefully it was tested.

Upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11 will be no exception.

Microsoft's recommendation to purchase a pre-loaded Windows 11 computer ensures the best experience, but supply-chain issues are making computers more expensive and it seems a waste to dump a functioning computer.

Develop a Recovery Plan

You should always be prepared for a failure. Disasters are unpredictable by their very nature.

Have a plan for how to recover if something goes wrong with Windows.

Upgrading? A Two-step Recovery Plan

If you decide to upgrade your Windows 10 computer to Windows 11, develop a recovery plan before something happens.

Following the upgrade, ensure that you can then recover from Windows 11.

Write it Down

Write down your plan then print it out.

You won't have access to any electronic documents on your computer if it fails to boot.

Recovering from Boot Failure

Your recovery plan should include knowing how to boot your computer into Recovery Mode as well as having the necessary recovery tools available.

Maintain a Current Backup

You should regularly backup your files using a system that ensures that critical files are always recoverable.

I recommend creating a separate backup of all your files, including the AppData folders where many programs including browser and email programs keep their data. If your backups fail, then you'll at least have copies of your data.

Critical Points of Failure

Windows updates and the move to a new operating system are both critical points where failures can occur.

Backup your system prior to installing updates or upgrading.

Create a Recovery Drive

A recovery drive can speed up recovery times if Windows fails to boot.

Recreate it After Significant Changes

You will need to recreate your recovery drive after each significant change to your system. Keep it current.

Recovery Mode

If Windows 11 won't load, you'll need to be able to get into recovery mode.

Windows 10 saw the removal of the F8 recovery options as a universal default.

Learn how your computer loads the recovery console before disaster happens then write it down.

Turn On System Restore Now

You can probably use System Restore to recover from a bad upgrade to Windows 11.

You'll have to turn on System Restore and create a restore point before upgrading to Windows 11.

Resetting Windows 11

Resetting Windows 11 allows you to clear up problems with Windows or prepare it for a new owner by resetting it to factory settings.

The menus are much like those in Windows 10, but you should take care in your selection to be sure that you understand the consequences.

Open Settings ⇒ System ⇒ Recovery then choose Reset this PC.

You're given the option to either keep your files (if you plan to continue using the PC) or remove everything (if you want to pass the PC on to someone else — a clean install).

Next, your options are either a cloud download or a local reinstall. Choose the cloud install if system files are corrupted on your PC.

You can also choose to clean the drive which will help make it harder for someone to recover the files. This can take hours to perform, so choose this option only if you're selling or passing on the computer.

At the end of this process, you will need to perform the initial setup for Windows (country, keyboard layout, etc.).

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russharvey.bc.ca/resources/windows11.html
Updated: November 30, 2022