Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Windows 11 Is Officially Compatible Only With Processors From Four Years Ago or Newer

Alina Yee, PCWorld:

A new operating system incompatible with older hardware—that’s surely another MacOS announcement, right? Not this time. Windows users could soon find themselves in the same boat as Apple fans: Following close behind Thursday’s official announcement of Windows 11 was the reveal of much stricter hardware compatibility for Windows 10’s successor.

I am not sure I understand the comparison to MacOS in this lede. Surely many new versions of operating systems phase out support for older processors; you cannot run Windows 10 on a Pentium 2. But it is bizarre for another reason that Yee surfaces just a few paragraphs later:

At the moment, Intel processors compatible with Windows 11 date back to mid-2017 and no earlier. Think 8th-generation CPUs and beyond. Microsoft has the full rundown on its site, which includes Pentium, Celeron, and Xeon chips. For ease of scanning, we’ve culled that list to a handful of the common mainstream consumer processors from each generation.

Officially, Windows 11 is incompatible with processors in computers released starting just a few years ago, but even more recent models are going to be stuck on Windows 10. Microsoft’s own Surface Studio 2 cannot be upgraded to Windows 11 despite being released in October 2018, and which the company is still selling today with the same CPU.

Does that mean that a lot of this hardware is rendered obsolete, leading to “heaps of needless trash”? There are some people who will get rid of their computer simply because it will not work with Windows 11, but will that be a lot or a little? I am not sure; I hope it is not many, since that would be wasteful. In practical terms, Windows software developers tend not to limit their compatibility requirements to the latest and greatest version. Users of devices stuck on Windows 10 will likely have access to a large software library for years to come, in addition to Microsoft’s own security updates. It is just incongruent to see the company touting advancements in Windows 11 for devices like the Surface Studio 2 which will not be made available to anyone who buys one of those computers today.

And since Yee brought up the Apple comparison, I felt compelled to check out which Macs the next version of MacOS will work with. Turns out that if you have an iMac, a MacBook Air, or a MacBook Pro from 2015, you can upgrade; if you have something more specialized, like a 2013 Mac Pro, you can also get Monterey. Like Windows 11, it also has stricter requirements than its predecessor, but at least it will comfortably work with all of the Macs Apple currently makes.

WatchOS, though? That’s a different story.