You can manually install Windows 11 on older PCs — but here's why you shouldn't

Windows 11
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft created a new avenue for older PCs to install Windows 11, only to put up a roadblock that could force millions of people to buy new hardware. 

Speaking with The Verge, the company said on Friday that older PCs could install Windows 11 by downloading an ISO file if they're denied by Windows Update. Reasons your laptop or desktop would be rejected by the official update tool include having an old CPU or lacking TPM 2.0 support.

Windows fans rejoiced until Microsoft clarified that those who use the ISO method would forgo updates. What's particularly troubling is that those missing updates could include security patches meant to protect your system against malware. 

This means manually installing Windows 11 on your older PC could leave your system open to attack somewhere down the line. It's not a risk we'd recommend anyone take, and frankly, I would be surprised if Microsoft gave users the option to download its flagship consumer product then make them fend for themselves against cyberattacks. 

If Microsoft wants to avoid a PR nightmare, it will ensure there isn't a group of infected Windows 11 PCs out in the wild. Microsoft seems to understand this, having previously pushed out security updates to laptops and desktops running obsolete operating systems. We've reached out to the company to ask for clarification on its update policy for PCs upgraded to Windows 11 via an ISO file.

As The Verge posits, threats of withholding updates could be Microsoft's way of telling users not to expect support if their system doesn't meet the official Windows 11 requirements. You might still get the most important updates, but Microsoft is avoiding making promises by suggesting a manually upgraded PC won't get any new goodies. 

If you need the latest software, Microsoft will give you the option to do everything manually. And by everything, that means downloading future drivers and feature updates via an ISO, assuming these become available to non-complaint systems.

Microsoft claims its Windows 11 update requirements ensure all systems running the upcoming OS benefit from stable performance and modern security features. The convenient (for Microsoft) outcome of these strict requirements is that millions of users may need to buy new hardware in order to run the OS — at least, to run it safely. 

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.