As of October 5, 2021, the RTM version of Windows 11 is available for download. I’ve downloaded it and have tried to install it on a range of machines. In doing this, the first thing that stands out is that there are a lot of otherwise capable machines in existence today that may not be able to run the new operating system. There are three requirements that tended to be the obstacles on the computers on which I did not install Windows 11.
- Secure Boot Enabled
- TPM 2.0
- Unsupported Processor
Because of the Secure Boot and the TPM requirements, I found that I could not install Windows 11 on my Macs using Bootcamp. Other guides that I’ve found all have Windows 11 on Mac being installed within a virtual machine. The unsupported processor issue was not expected. One of the computers on which the installation failed to install has a Xeon 3.0 GHz processor with 16 cores and an RTX 3090 video card. This computer has 64 gigs of ram, 2 terabytes of M.2 storage, and a few terabytes on conventional drives. But its processor is not supported. If your computer matches the Windows 11 requirements on paper, that doesn’t give assurance that it is actually compatible. If you want to test for yourself, the best method is to run the Windows 11 upgrade advisor.
Microsoft is using virtualization-based security (VBS) to protect processes in Windows 11. There is a sub-feature of this called Hypervisor-Protected Code Integrity (HVCI) that prevents code injection attacks. Microsoft has said that computer’s with processors that support this feature have a 99.8% crash free experience (source). For purposes of reliability and security, Microsoft has decided that this feature will be part of the baseline for Windows 11. Back in August, Microsoft made a blog post stating that they found some older processors that met their requirements and would be adding them to their compatibility list. There’s a chance that a computer that shows as no compatible today could show as compatible later.
A Windows feature that I’ve enjoyed using is Windows 2 GO. With W2G, a Windows environment is installed on a USB drive specifically made for this feature (it would not quite work on a regular drive). The W2G drive could be plugged into any PC or Intel based Mac as a boot drive. It was a great way to port an environment around to use as an emergency drive. Microsoft discontinued support of the feature some time ago. But it still worked. With Windows 11, this feature is effectively dead.
You can find both the upgrade advisor and the Windows 11 download at the following link.
Windows 11 offers a a lot of consumer focused features and a new look. But my interest is in the new APIs that the OS provides. Microsoft has extended the DirectX APIs, especially in Composition and DirectDisplay. The Bluetooth APIs have extended support for low energy devices. And there is now support for haptic pen devices and more phone control.
I was already on the market for a new laptop. I’ll be getting another computer that runs Windows 11 soon enough. But in the mean time, I’ve moved one of my successful installs to my primary work area so that I can try it out as my daily driver. More to come…