Whenever Microsoft releases a new major version of its operating system, all organizations that use Windows have to make a difficult decision: Do we upgrade to enjoy the latest features and security improvements, or do we stick with our current version for compatibility reasons?
The upcoming release of Windows 11 makes this decision even more complicated because it doesn’t support many older computers, even those that have more than enough processing power to run the operating system.
This article is here to help you decide if upgrading to Windows 11 is a good decision for your organization by explaining the new features and improvements it brings to the table, as well as the hardware requirements you have to meet to be able to take advantage of them.
Windows 11 Will Start to Become Available in October
Microsoft released the first Insider Preview Build in June to its Windows Insider community, gathering feedback and making improvements in preparation for the official release.
According to the official announcement, Windows 11 will start to become available on October 5, 2021. “On this day, the free upgrade to Windows 11 will begin rolling out to eligible Windows 10 PCs, and PCs that come pre-loaded with Windows 11 will start to become available for purchase,” explains Aaron Woodman, General Manager of Windows marketing.
Microsoft’s top priority is delivering the smoothest upgrade experience possible, and it will be relying on intelligence models that consider hardware eligibility, reliability metrics, age of device, and other factors that impact the upgrade experience to determine which devices will be upgraded first (or at all, as we explain later in this article).
The good news is that Windows 10 support doesn’t end with the release of Windows 11. The two operating systems will co-exist, and Windows 10 will continue to receive support until October 14, 2025.
When it comes to Windows 11, the Home and Pro versions will be supported for 24 months, while the Enterprise and Education versions will be supported for 36 months.
New Features in Windows 11
Windows 11 refines the familiar user experience by redesigning the user interface to provide a calm and creative space where ideas can blossom, connections can be made, and content can be enjoyed.
- Task Bar icons are now centered just like on Apple computers, and the Start menu has been redesigned from the ground up to display contacts, news, games, and content.
- Window managed in Windows 11 has been taken to a new level with features such as Snap Layouts and Snap Groups, which make it easy to quickly organize windows according to your preferences and maximize the use of your screen real estate.
- Microsoft Teams, the team collaboration tool so many organizations have come to rely on since the outbreak of the pandemic, is now tightly integrated into the taskbar, providing a faster way to connect with the people you work with and care about.
- Widgets are supposed to be far more useful in Windows 11 than in previous versions of the operating system, helping users stay up to date with relevant information generated by artificial intelligence.
- Accessibility features have been greatly improved and expanded in Windows 11, making it the most inclusive version of Windows ever.
- Microsoft has spent a lot of time and effort optimizing Windows 11 for speed. Updates are supposed to install up to 40 percent faster, and the entire operating system is said to be more responsive than Windows 10.
- Windows 11 is built on the stable and compatible Windows 10 foundation. This foundation has been enhanced for maximum security by taking full advantage of Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0 and making it a minimum system requirement, which is the main reason why you may not be able to upgrade.
Not Everyone Will Be Able to Upgrade
Windows 10 is currently installed on 1.3 billion devices, many of which won’t be able to upgrade to Windows 11 because they don’t meet the official minimum system requirements:
- CPU: 1 GHz or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
- RAM: 4 GB
- Storage: 64 GB or larger storage device
- Graphics: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
- Security: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
While most computers that are in use today have enough processing power, RAM, and storage for Windows 11, they don’t always have a compatible Intel or AMD processor because the new operating system doesn’t support most processors before an 8th Gen Intel Core and AMD Ryzen 2000.
What’s more, Microsoft now requires the presence of TPM 2.0, a dedicated microcontroller designed to provide hardware-based, security-related functions, and that’s not something most older desktop computers and laptops are equipped with.
While it will be possible to install Windows 11 on computers that don’t fully meet the minimum system requirements, such computers may not receive security updates, so using them for work-related purposes would be a huge risk.
Put Together an Upgrade Plan
For most organizations, rushing into Windows 11 isn’t a good decision—even on fully supported hardware. Why? Because every release of a major new version of Windows brings with it compatibility and stability issues. Avoiding them is as easy as waiting a while and using the time to put together an upgrade plan.
To start with, you want to check which of your devices meet the official minimum system requirements and which don’t. You can use the PC Health Check app to assess compatibility, and there’s plenty of IT asset management software that can help you as well.
From there, you should focus on the software applications your organization depends on every day. Not all vendors will support Windows 11 at launch, and you certainly don’t want to upgrade and then find out that a critical piece of software doesn’t work well on Windows 11.
Once you have all compatibility issues sorted out, you can start planning the actual upgrade process. Upgrading dozens of desktop computers and laptops can be a time-consuming process, but there are solutions for upgrading computers in bulk that can greatly streamline the upgrade process.
You also need to decide what you want to do with devices that can’t be readily upgraded to Windows 11, such as using the newly introduced Target Product Version policy to specify the version of Windows you want the devices to remain on.
All of this can be a lot of work, and we would be happy to make it our responsibility so that you can maintain focus on what you do best and still enjoy the numerous productivity, security, and performance improvements Windows 11 offers. Book a free consultation today.