Windows 11: Don't Rush to Get It, Let the Next Computer That You Eventually Buy Come With It
Microsoft has announced that it will end support for its Windows 10 operating system (both Home and Pro versions) on 10/14/2025, a little less than 4 years from now. Windows 10 was originally released on 7/29/2015.
This is a major change from Microsoft’s previous approach of providing an open-ended series of updates indefinitely.
Windows 11 was released on 10/5/2021 as a free upgrade from Windows 10 (if your computer is compatible), and new computers are already available with Windows 11 pre-installed. Like previous versions, Windows 11 has both Home and Pro versions.
There is a lot of information available online about all this, especially about how to determine whether your current computer can be upgraded to Windows 11 or not.
Note: Don’t confuse Microsoft Windows (the lower-level operating system) with Microsoft Office (the higher-level software package which includes programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.).
Bottom line: Should you upgrade to Windows 11?
In general, my advice for the average computer user is: Probably not.
In a similar vein to what I wrote in my 10/30/2019 newsletter when the end of support for Windows 7 was approaching:
- If your current Windows 7 or 8 or 10 computer works and provides you with what you need,
- And you don’t have a legal responsibility to use up-to-date software and security (e.g., you don’t run a law firm or a medical practice),
Then I see no reason for the average user to upgrade their computer to Windows 11, nor to buy a new Windows 11 computer at this point.
My general advice is the same as I’ve written before about the release of any major new operating system, whether it’s for Microsoft Windows or Apple Macintosh:
- Don’t panic. Just because Windows 10 support will end on 10/14/2025 (and Windows 8.1 on 1/10/2023), your computer will not suddenly drop dead or cease to function. It simply means that Microsoft will no longer be issuing security and feature updates, which is already the situation with Windows 7 since 1/14/2020.
- Don’t rush into anything. Upgrading your current computer (if it’s compatible) to Windows 11 with no advance planning can cause more problems than it solves, it can be a big disruption if important programs suddenly stop working, and it can be a nightmare if Microsoft has not yet found and fixed any major problems in the new operating system (which can sometimes take 6 months to a year, sometimes longer). While less risky than upgrading, I also recommend advance planning for buying a new computer and moving to it.
- What are your needs? If your current computer works for you, why change it or replace it?
- Does the new operating system provide any clear benefit to you compared to your current one? From what I’ve read so far, for most individual users the answer is probably “No.”
- What are your options? The most obvious ones are: doing nothing, upgrading your current computer, or buying a new one.
- What are the pros and cons (and costs) of each option?
- If you upgrade your current computer, can you later “downgrade” back to the operating system that you had before?
- If you can’t sort all of this out on your own, talk to someone you know and trust to help you evaluate your particular situation, needs, and budget.
If you don’t come up with a compelling reason to either upgrade your current computer or buy a new one, I recommend doing nothing for now. Later, when you eventually decide to replace it, let your next computer come with Windows 11.
Windows 11 hardware and software requirements
Without getting into the many new features in Windows 11 (most of which don’t seem particularly useful to the average user), if you’re simply curious whether your computer can run Windows 11, I suggest looking at http://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/whats-new/windows-11-requirements
to see the list of 9 system requirements. Most of them are pretty modest, but a few items stand out.
Hardware requirements to install or upgrade to Windows 11:
- (*) CPU: 1 GHz or faster, 64-bit processor with two or more cores, or system on a chip (SoC)
- Memory: 4 GB or more
- Hard drive: 64 GB or more of free space
- Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver
- (*) System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface)
- (*) TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
- Monitor: High definition (720p), 9" diagonal or larger, 8 bits per color channel
- A working internet connection
- Updating Windows 10 to at least version 2004 is recommended before upgrading to Windows 11, which was released on 5/27/2020.
While 6 of these 9 requirements are quite modest, the 3 that I’ve marked (*) above require a higher level of hardware than average. In a nutshell, the CPU requirement means that your processor chip has to be on Microsoft’s list of compatible processors, and the other two require that your computer support Windows 11’s new higher level of hardware-based security.
In other words, it takes a bit of technical work to determine whether your current computer might be compatible. See below for the link to get Microsoft’s free “PC Health Check” software, which can do most of that work for you.
Where to go from here
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