Users can install the new operating system in a roundabout way, but there are risks.
Many users have been left behind by Microsoft’s stringent hardware requirements for Windows 11, but it turns out there’s a way to install the new OS even if your PC’s processor or security features don’t meet the company’s requirements—though it’s not guaranteed to run properly.
Microsoft has confirmed that users can manually install Windows 11 using an ISO file. This works around the standard Windows update procedures, so you won’t have to pass the Windows PC Health Check to install Windows 11. Your PC must, however, meet the following minimum hardware requirements:
- A 64-bit 1 GHz processor with at least two cores
- 4 GB of RAM
- At least 64 GB of free storage space
Related: All the Ways to Take Screenshots in Windows 11
When Windows 11 is released in the coming weeks, we’ll know more about the manual installation process, but it’ll most likely be similar to installing Windows 10 from an ISO, which means you’ll also need one of the following setups:
- A DVD drive that can burn discs
- Or a virtual drive installed on your PC
Even if you don’t meet the TPM or SecureBoot requirements to upgrade through the normal channels, you can install Windows 11 if you meet all of the above hardware requirements.
This isn’t, of course, the intended upgrade path. Microsoft would prefer that users buy a new PC or upgrade to the recommended hardware specs, but the manual ISO installation is available as a fallback option for businesses that want to preview Windows 11 and stubborn users who refuse to upgrade their hardware. Manually installing Windows 11 on unsupported hardware is, of course, risky.
The main disadvantage is that older PCs may be ineligible for future Windows 11 updates. It’s one thing to miss out on new features and upgrades, but security and driver updates are far more pressing concerns. Separate from the large-scale version upgrades, smaller updates are released more frequently. While Microsoft has not confirmed that older hardware will be blocked from receiving updates, the company is certainly considering it. Older PCs may be vulnerable to unpatched security issues, such as the recent PrintNightmare vulnerability, if this happens.
Even if older PCs can’t automatically install updates, it’s possible that Microsoft will release subsequent versions of Windows 11 as ISOs, which you can use to manually update to the latest build (as long as they actually become available, that is).
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Similarly, outdated drivers may cause compatibility issues on older PCs. Drivers that aren’t compatible or are out of date can prevent you from using USB devices, break basic features, and even prevent apps from running. Similarly, if your display drivers aren’t up to date, some games will run poorly. While manually updating drivers is possible, it is a time-consuming process that can be difficult to locate and install the correct drivers.
Again, Microsoft hasn’t confirmed that updates for older hardware will be blocked, but it could happen at any time. If you don’t want to deal with these issues, you might want to stick with Windows 10 on older PCs. Furthermore, there are ways to test out Windows 11 without installing anything.
Related: How to Install Windows 11 Right Now