Microsoft’s strict hardware requirements for the upcoming Windows 11 have left many users behind, 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 standards — though it’s not guaranteed to run properly.
According to The Verge, Microsoft confirms users can install Windows 11 manually with an ISO. This bypasses the normal Windows update procedures, meaning you don’t have to pass the Windows PC Health Check to install Windows 11. However, your PC still has to meet the 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
We’ll know more about the manual installation process once Windows 11 is available in the coming weeks, but the process will likely resemble installing Windows 10 with 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
As long as you meet all of the above hardware requirements, you can install Windows 11 even if you don’t meet the TPM or SecureBoot requirements needed to upgrade through the normal channels.
Of course, this isn’t the intended upgrade route. Microsoft would much rather have users buy a new PC or upgrade to the recommended hardware specs, but it’s offering the manual ISO installation as a fallback measure for businesses that want to preview Windows 11, as well as stubborn users who don’t want to upgrade their hardware. Of course, manually installing Windows 11 on unsupported hardware isn’t risk-free.
The biggest downside is that older PCs may be ineligible for future updates to Windows 11. Missing out on new features and upgrades is one thing, but the bigger concerns are security and driver updates. These smaller updates roll out more frequently, separate from the large-scale version upgrades. While Microsoft has not confirmed it will block updates on older hardware, the company is certainly considering it. If that happens, older PCs may be at risk of unpatched security issues, such as the recent PrintNightmare vulnerability.
However, even if older PCs can’t install updates automatically, it’s possible Microsoft will release subsequent versions of Windows 11 as ISOs as well, which you could use to manually update to the latest build (as long as they actually become available, that is).
Similarly, older PCs may run into compatibility issues from outdated drivers. Mismatched or outdated drivers can prevent you from using USB devices, break basic features, and even prevent apps from running. Similarly, some games will run poorly if your display drivers aren’t up to date. While you can manually update drivers, this is a tedious process and it can be difficult to find and install the proper drivers.
Again, it’s not outright confirmed Microsoft will block updates for older hardware, but it could happen at any time. Sticking with Windows 10 on older PCs might be better if you don’t want to deal with these issues. Besides, there are ways to try out Windows 11 without having to install anything.