Upgrading to Windows 11

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With the announcement last week that Microsoft is replacing the last ever Windows with a whole new version! I thought I’d have a look at the system requirements to see if I can get my home pc ready to upgrade to Windows 11

Spoiler alert! I succeeded, but it wasn’t without it’s struggles.

Firstly let’s take a look at the system requirements of Windows 11: Some of these are pretty standard with reasonably modern computers like Processor speed, RAM, and Storage requirements. However, there are a few surprises in there requiring things that aren’t always standard.
  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC).
  • RAM: 4 gigabytes (GB) or greater.
  • Storage: 64 GB* or greater available storage is required to install Windows 11.
  • Additional storage space might be required to download updates and enable specific features.
  • Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver.
  • System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable.
  • TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0.
  • Display: High definition (720p) display, 9″ or greater monitor, 8 bits per colour channel.
  • Internet connection: Internet connectivity is necessary to perform updates and to download and use some features.
  • Windows 11 Home edition requires an Internet connection and a Microsoft Account to complete device setup on first use.

A few surprises to be aware of

Secure Boot Secure boot has been included in many computers for a good while. However, the settings need to be set BEFORE installing your operating system. Many manufacturers in the past had set the default on their products to a legacy mode, usually called CSM (Compatibility Support Module). If you are using the CSM at the moment as I was and you turn off the CSM your PC won’t boot. There are tools you can use to convert your disks so they can boot depending on your situation, like Microsoft’s MBR2GPT. However, it has been some time since I installed Windows 10. In order not to carry over any existing problems and have a fresh, clean experience, I opted to wipe my drive clean and install a fresh windows 10. Trusted Platform Module (TPM)  I think for most people, it is the requirement for TPM which is going to cause the most trouble. On a desktop, if it exists, it is usually disabled. Sometimes you get a slot on the motherboard to plug one in, sometimes it’s included on the board already. Finally, sometimes you have one built into your CPU! Once you find out if you have one, it needs to be the right version – at least TPM 2.0. If you want to find out more about it, here is a link to the Wikipedia article TPM Wikipedia.

Is my processor compatible?

The final thing which surprised me was the compatibility list for current processors. Although your processor may meet the speed requirements above and have decent performance you need to have a recent processor in order to run windows 11. So for Intel you need at least an 8th Generation processor and for AMD you need at least a Ryzen 2000 series processor. There are many processors which outperform my Ryzen 5 2600 yet they are not on the compatibility support list. Whether or not Microsoft will relax this before release, we don’t yet know but this is correct at the time of this publication.

How can I find out if my PC can run Windows 11?

There is a tool you can use from Microsoft called the PC Health Check app, just install and run this and it will be able to tell you. I did this and it told me I couldn’t run windows 11 because I didn’t have a TPM AND I was not using secure boot. My next step was to see if I can fix these errors, so I started with Secure Boot, since I knew I could do this without having to buy anything. As I mentioned previously, I had already decided I was going to reinstall windows 10 so with that in mind I made sure all data was backed up (I sync to my OneDrive so everything was already saved) and I rebooted my PC and mashed the delete key to get into the system BIOS. Once there I checked my settings for my boot drive and sure enough, I was using UEFI + Legacy in the boot menu and in the Security menu CSM was enabled so I didn’t have any access to Secure boot. I set the boot settings to UEFI only then rebooted, then I looked at changing the security settings, once I had disabled CSM and set that to UEFI I had a host of options for Secure Boot. I tried to switch on secure boot but when I tried to boot to my installation USB media, it would just reboot with an error telling me my Graphics card did not have something called GOP support(Graphics Output Protocol). This is not something most people will come across, but I had to then scour the internet for a couple of hours to find the right firmware to flash my graphics card so it would then boot properly with secure boot switched on. While I was in the bios I took a little look at the TPM settings and I could enable it – so I thought I’d just enable it and see what happens, I know my motherboard had only a header and no device on board. The section below said there were no devices on board so I save and rebooted and went back into the bios where I discovered it had found a TPM and it was the required V2. Not something I realised before, but my Ryzen 5 2600 had a built in TPM! Once I was able to boot with secure boot enabled, I reinstalled Windows 10 and began the process of reinstalling the programs I use on a daily basis. After this I ran the PC Health check app from Microsoft and got the following result. I then signed up for the insider preview program so I am able to install windows 11 as soon as it is available to insiders. Check back here in a couple of weeks and I will update you on how the upgrade to Windows 11 went. 
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