If you were hoping for Microsoft to backtrack on Windows 11’s stringent security-focused new system requirements, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that a small handful of 7th-generation Intel Core processors have been added to the support list, and systems that use those chips will officially support the final version of Windows 11 when it comes out in the fall. The bad news is that they are the only processors being added to the support list, and Microsoft “will maintain the minimum system requirements as originally set.”
Intel’s 7th-generation Core processors, codenamed Kaby Lake, were launched mostly in late 2016 and through 2017, though many computers that use them were available for purchase long after that. The specific 7th-generation processors that have been added to the compatibility list are:
- X-series processors based on the Skylake-X and Kaby Lake architectures, like the Core i5-7640X and Core i7-7800X
- W-series Xeon processors
- The Core i7-7820HQ specifically, with the caveat that systems with this processor must be using DCH drivers
If the decision to support one specific 7th-generation Core i7 laptop processor strikes you as odd, you don’t need to look far for an explanation—this just happens to be the CPU included in Microsoft’s Surface Studio 2, which Microsoft still sells but has not updated in three years. That Microsoft was about to stop supporting a PC it is currently selling and for which it controls everything from the firmware to the drivers earned the company some well-deserved scorn from users and the press. Adding support for it is laudable, but it’s also the bare minimum—Windows 11 will still leave behind Surface products as recent as 2017’s 5th-generation Surface Pro and 1st-generation Surface Laptop and the cheapest configurations of 2017’s Surface Book 2 (higher-end configurations used 8th-generation processors, but the cheapest models did not).
These processors join the rest of the processor compatibility list, which still includes 8th-generation or newer Intel Core processors and 2000-series AMD Ryzen processors (excluding the Ryzen 2200G and 2400G, which use the same CPU architecture as 1000-series Ryzen CPUs). Most of the supported processors were released in late 2017 or early 2018 at the earliest.
While Microsoft said back in June that it would investigate compatibility with other 7th-generation Core processors and 1000-series Ryzen processors, that investigation has apparently come to a close; today’s announcement explicitly shuts the door on support for older chips from either company. You will be able to install Windows 11 on an unsupported system manually if it’s something you want to do—but the “official” free frictionless upgrade path for most people is still going to be restricted to all but the latest PCs.
If you want to make sure Windows 11 will run on your PC, Microsoft is releasing a revised version of the PC Health Check app to Windows Insiders today. The original version of the Health Check app would tell you whether your PC could run Windows 11 but offered no details explaining why. The new version will tell you the reason(s) your PC isn’t compatible and link out to resources telling you what, if anything, you can do to change your settings so you can run the OS.
Update: Microsoft will allow manual installs of Windows 11 on unsupported PCs. We’ve tweaked this story accordingly.