In June, we wrote that Home windows 11 will depart hundreds of thousands of PCs behind, seemingly as a result of their processors aren’t as new and totally featured as Microsoft would really like.

This morning, Microsoft revealed a change of plan to The Verge: it received’t technically abandon these hundreds of thousands of PCs, since you’ll have the ability to manually set up the downloadable Home windows 11 ISO on no matter you need. The corporate’s additionally extending its official CPU compatibility listing to a bunch of Intel’s costliest Xeon workstation processors and its costliest line of Core X desktop CPUs — and, tellingly, the much less highly effective Intel chip it shipped in its Floor Studio 2, so it now not has to defend the concept of abandoning a flagship product that it still continues to sell brand-new.

However whereas it would look like Microsoft’s opening up the floodgates, the complicated actuality of Home windows 11 upgrades hasn’t modified fairly as a lot as you would possibly suppose. Whereas DIY PC players, IT admins, and different energy customers will have the ability to carry out a clear set up of Home windows 11 on current {hardware} courting again years, it’s not encouraging that in any respect.

First and maybe most vital, Microsoft knowledgeable us after we revealed this story that if your laptop doesn’t meet the system necessities, it is probably not entitled to get Home windows Updates, even safety ones. We’re asking Microsoft for clarification on that now. However secondly, it nonetheless appears like Microsoft can be encouraging hundreds of thousands of individuals to switch their completely good Home windows PCs.

Think about for a second that you just’ve by no means heard of an ISO; you’re hoping to improve your ageing machine to the refreshing but acquainted Home windows 11 this fall; and also you need to know if it’ll work. You would possibly properly fireplace up Microsoft’s PC Well being Verify app, as a result of that’s the precise software the corporate is promoting for that objective. However that software would possibly lead you astray. Microsoft tells The Verge that app will nonetheless examine your CPU in opposition to Microsoft’s listing of supported processors — and direct you to “relevant support articles that include potential remediation steps” should you don’t have the chips that Microsoft prefers.

Most Home windows PC homeowners in all probability received’t trouble with a compatibility checker app, after all. They’ll simply watch for the Home windows Replace that may robotically deliver it to them totally free, very similar to how Home windows 10 was a free replace when it arrived in 2015. However right here, once more, Microsoft will solely be updating computer systems with supported CPUs.

Avoiding automated updates for CPUs that aren’t supported makes some quantity of sense: Microsoft doesn’t need to be blamed if it makes your Home windows expertise worse, and it may possibly’t take a look at each single configuration underneath the solar.

However how a lot worse is worse? Microsoft makes it sound fairly dangerous at first, writing that it noticed 52 p.c extra kernel mode crashes (aka the notorious BSOD) when testing techniques that didn’t meant its minimal spec — whereas machines that did meet it had a 99.8 p.c crash-free expertise. However should you do the mathematics, it means we’re going from a 2-in-1,000 likelihood of a BSOD to a 3-in-1,000 likelihood. That further quantity of downtime may not be acceptable for a sysadmin managing hundreds of older computer systems, however it’d seemingly be a distinct story for the typical one that solely buys a brand new PC each 4 to 6 years.

As we’ve defined earlier than, Microsoft has some legitimate safety causes to insist on extra stringent {hardware} necessities like TPM 2.0, notably from its laptop computer and desktop companions. The corporate’s been focused by some extraordinarily troubling assaults and want to forestall extra, however it solely has a lot leverage over the PC business to ensure security measures are literally turned on. (Microsoft has technically mandated TPM 2.0 since July 2016.)

None of this can be an issue for many who merely purchase a brand new laptop with a preloaded copy of Home windows 11. However that’s my level — now that Microsoft has revealed it’s not truly locking Home windows 11 to these security measures, the listing of supported CPUs feels much more like a present to Intel and PC producers within the type of additional laptop gross sales (the place Microsoft income off every Home windows 10 license) than a staunch safety play. And it’ll be a disgrace, notably for the setting, if folks wind up tossing PCs which might be completely able to working the brand new OS.

As safety knowledgeable (and former Microsoft menace intelligence analyst) Kevin Beaumont put it earlier this year, the corporate’s motivations are questionable:

Microsoft is probably about to push plenty of folks towards shopping for a brand new laptop this fall, and PC producers can be solely too joyful to assist. I simply surprise how shameless Microsoft can be as time goes on: in the case of selling its personal Microsoft Edge browser, it has repeatedly disrespected its personal customers’ selections with pressured Home windows Updates.

Replace, 11:57 PM ET: Added that Home windows 11 updates could also be in jeopardy should you take the ISO set up technique with a PC that doesn’t meet the corporate’s system necessities.

Replace August twenty eighth, 2:20PM ET: Added a hyperlink to this text explaining what we all know to date about updates for techniques that don’t meet the necessities.

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