The Zimbabwean Perspective

A look at our lives and the tech we use in them

Editorial Operating Systems

Windows 11 IS launching on October 5, and Microsoft is still adamant to make most of you not receive it

Unless you want to totally reformat your PC that is.

Windows 11 has easily become one of the most controversial Microsoft products of this year, starting off to a hyped announcement that everyone seemed to be impressed by, then following that with a string of announcements and reports that made it pretty clear millions of people on the planet wouldn’t get it because it required processors from only 3 years ago or newer. On Monday Microsoft announced the OS will be coming on October 5th, and while some people are excited about that, it’s clear that Microsoft is still pretty adamant about keeping their newest OS out of people’s hands, and they might be making this the most controversial launch since Windows Vista.

As mentioned, Windows 11 is launching on October 5, with it being available over Windows Update to the most compatible and tested PCs first then rolling out to more devices in the proceeding months just like any major Windows 10 update for the past 6 years. However, unless you have an eighth generation Intel processor or AMD RYZEN 2 processor and up, your device has been listed as not supported by Windows 11. Those are processors that started releasing in late 2017, just over three years ago, and while some might say that’s time enough the fact that Microsoft supported machines that were up to TEN years older when Windows 10 launched shows just how much they are being borderline harsh with Windows 11’s release. We wrote the details as to why this is the case in another article but a big part of it also comes down to security measures allowed by a TPM 2.0 chip, which pretty much most processors from before 2017 didn’t have. This little caveat is what makes even AMD RYZEN 1 processors (which are more powerful and capable than some Intel Core i3 processors released today) be listed as unsupported by Windows 11, and as you can imagine, it’s driven quite a few people to the point of anger as well.
Microsoft lets you boot from an ISO now, but you’ll have to wipe your PC and start from scratch
Microsoft seemingly tried to mend some of this anger in an announcement last week that technically anyone who wanted to download a Windows 11 ISO/boot drive file could install Windows 11 on almost any machine out there. This would mean that almost anyone who wants the platform could get access to it…except it requires a clean install of the operating system meaning it would wipe all your files , settings and basically boot up the machine from zero. This practice probably isn’t the worst thing for “Pro” users or anyone who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty. But considering that Microsoft themselves essentially knew how dated this approach was and having been allowing users an “Upgrade” option that moves their PC to the new operating system with minimal to no losses, you can see how this isn’t the company putting their best foot forward. In fact, if you do install Windows 11 from an ISO and have a clean reset, Microsoft has gone on to say that your unsupported machine might not get any updates, including security patches, drivers, and of course feature updates each time a new version of Windows 11 is released. So even if you do get the OS out of sheer enthusiasm or trying to be on the cutting edge, chances are you’ll have a terrible, second class experience of it if you’re not outright forced to go back to Windows 10. Add the fact that users who had been testing Windows 11 through Insider/Beta testing builds for the past few months (i.e. helping Microsoft improve and test it before release) are now being told that their machine won’t get the official Windows 11 update or any other updates , meaning they have to revert to Windows 10 as well.
Thought you could get Windows 11 through the Insider Program? Outta luck mate!
To say that Microsoft’s moves here are even more infuriating would be an understatement. I’ve said this before: my PC has a compatible processor and TPM 2.0 chip, I’ll be eligible for Windows 11 probably in the first month or so. But to know that my mother’s sixth gen laptop won’t get it yet it’s a very performant machine that’s comparable to mine sounds like madness. In fact knowing that Microsoft’s own Surface devices from 2017 and before (including the 2017 Surface Pro, Surface Laptop 1 , Surface Studio 1, and perhaps the 13 inch Surface Book 2) are being ditched sounds like madness to me. Sure they’re not new machines, but they’re definitely capable ones that have been right at the edge of what Windows 10 could do. In fact Windows 10, along with MacOS X and comparable Linux had represented a watershed moment for PCs, where operating systems had become so efficient and the basic needs of a user could be met by hardware that was even a decade old, and thus the operating systems being released could reach very far back in terms of support. To be fair, back then the metrics that mattered most where performance, and in the time we live in now, security has become just as important hence Microsoft’s insistence on the relatively new TPM 2.0 module. But considering that even Apple supports 10 year old MacBooks that don’t come with their own newer security chips, it essentially shows that Microsoft here is still pushing the agenda of increased PC sales and more OEM licenses for them as well.
Even this masterpiece got saved by the skin of it’s 7th Gen teeth
In fact Microsoft’s whole approach to this seems very self indulgent. Even in their recent move to expand supported processors for Windows 11, the were laser focused on specific seventh gen processors that Intel probably wanted them to work on, along with the processor in none other than the Surface Studio 2, a device that’s actually still full price on Microsoft’s store and their only offering at the moment for the desktop space. Both moves that benefit either Microsoft’s direct sales or its relationship with chip providers. Add in things like Windows 11 forcing you to use Microsoft Edge more and its insistence on having you log into a Microsoft account for the setup of Windows 11 Home, and suddenly the “open and inclusive” message that the company has been preaching recently (and practicing in Windows 10) suddenly seems like it’s not on the cards anymore. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying you shouldn’t get Windows 11 or that’s it’s a bad OS, in fact I’m not even giving any conclusive on it as an operating system yet. It’s the approach the OS and Microsoft seem to be taking that’s making me displeased. And I’m not the only one either. I understand Microsoft has reasons for taking this approach, with even general compatibility being a large issue. But while their intentions with Windows 11 might not be completely diabolical, their execution hasn’t been benevolent either. While I’m not exactly a believer of the “good version/bad version” narrative for major Windows versions, I can’t exactly say Windows  is lining up for the best launch here either. Chances are that may change. Microsoft could still add more support for older processors, especially since legacy IT enterprise setups will have those as well. But for now, Windows 11 suddenly seems as exclusive as Windows 8 was when it first launched. Let’s hope that doesn’t remain the case, otherwise we can definitely continue in the comfort of windows 10 for a while

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