Unsupported Windows 11 devices will get a desktop watermark after all

nanoguy

Posts: 1,217   +21
Staff member
In context: Microsoft has been testing a desktop watermark that warns Windows 11 users whenever they're running the new operating system on a system that isn't quite up to its official requirements. It looks set to make it into a final build, despite Microsoft tolerating and even offering a workaround for bypassing the CPU and TPM requirements it set for Windows 11.

Last month, Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel were treated to a preview build of Windows 11 with a new "feature" that shows a watermark on any rig not meeting Microsoft's official system requirements. To be clear, that even includes virtual machines.

At the time, this looked like just another A/B test for something that may or may not make it into a final, stable version. However, the most recent builds pushed to the Beta and Release Preview channels suggest that the Redmond company is moving ahead with its plans to make it more obvious to Windows 11 users that they shouldn't install it on an unsupported system.

When it launched Windows 11, Microsoft went back and forth with its official hardware requirements, and even had some trouble coordinating its messaging on the matter with OEM partners. In short, if your PC doesn't have at least an Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake or Zen+ and Zen 2 CPU, you're not invited into the Windows 11 club.

There's a reason behind this madness, and it can only be described as splitting the user base for the sake of advancing the default security protections of Windows machines. This effort hinges on TPM 2.0, which can be implemented either as a dedicated hardware solution or as firmware-based TPM for a particular CPU. Either way, security features like Virtualization-based Security and Hypervisor-Enforced Code Integrity depend on having an active TPM in your system.

Microsoft says it decided on this approach due to the massive increase in cyber security incidents caused by ransomware and sophisticated malware campaigns. Furthermore, developers of online multiplayer games are now starting to take advantage of TPM for their anti-cheat systems.

We should note that it's been relatively easy to bypass Windows 11's system requirements and turn off VBS for people who would prefer to trade the added security for a slight performance boost in certain games. You'll also get updates on an unsupported system, although that can change at any point in the future. For the time being, it looks like a small watermark in the lower right corner will soon greet people who have installed Windows 11 on weaker systems. The watermark suggests going to the Settings app to learn more.

This small nag won't be as prominent as the well-known warning that appears when you haven't activated your copy of Windows, and so far, it doesn't look like it will limit your ability to use Windows 11. If it is indeed just a cosmetic change, you'll probably be able to fix it with some hidden Windows 11 tweaks.

Permalink to story.

 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,277   +828
"There's a reason behind this madness, and it can only be described as splitting the user base for the sake of advancing the default security protections of Windows machines. This effort hinges on TPM 2.0, which can be implemented either as a dedicated hardware solution or as firmware-based TPM for a particular CPU."
Why aren't they supporting LGA2011 which can have mobo based TPM 2.0 addon chips? So it's not even a line at TPM 2.0 support. It's a line at what they could be f'd supporting from what I can tell.
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,222   +1,119
Win 11 is still beat and crippled in many ways. It's designed for novice users that don't care about important missing/hidden features. Luckily people have released software to restore most if not all of the win 10 functionality they removed, but ti sucks M$ did this at all.

I won't upgrade until win 10 is no longer supported or I see evidence M$ has restored functionality and it's had at least 4 major updates. Maybe 2023 I'll give it a look.
 

Aaron Fox

Posts: 153   +90
Most AM4 motherboards that support Zen 1 chips have a tpm 2.0 header so are they willing to let Zen 1 users that bother to purchase a tpm 2.0 chip install Windows 11?

Because otherwise the entire requirement it's just a load of BS.
You can strike 'Because otherwise' from the post.
Why bother? I can’t run Windows 11. Currently I can’t see why I should be upset. What can people do on Windows 11 that I cant already do on Windows 10?
Have support once Windows 10 is dropped.
 
Good. Will make it so much easier for troubleshooting purposes to know that the user has a potato for a computer without having to really look at anything.
 
And about 2 seconds after that, a reg file to remove it will be all over the web.
My guess is it'll require an AES-256, or maybe even as high as AES-1024, encrypted key to remove that is based on the hardware profile of each specific computer, so it will be uncrackable, but that's just guess.

People just need to upgrade and stop being bitches imo.
 

bviktor

Posts: 855   +1,271
Yeah, I see a tool easily removing that.
No big deal for someone who already got around the restrictions on an "unsupported" system.
Why do you put that in quotation marks? You don't have to _like_ their decision, but removing that watermark won't make your system supported.
 

Fulljack

Posts: 71   +70
You guys forget VBS. enhanced secured core PCs require more than just TPM. Techspot did check the performance impact of enabling said features (which are weirdly are disabled by default) in one of their articles.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,368   +5,602
You guys forget VBS. enhanced secured core PCs require more than just TPM. Techspot did check the performance impact of enabling said features (which are weirdly are disabled by default) in one of their articles.
VBS can be run on core 2 duos with a sub 1% performance drop in most situations. Still no excuse.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,707   +6,654
That's my situation. Don't see a point in upgrading to Win11 for a while either (even though it's supported for me).
I upgraded my work computer which is supported. IMO, there is nothing in Windohs 11 that cannot be done already in Windohs 10.

I think many will raise their middle fingers to this "watermark", and M$ pushing this crap on everyone is something that I think is more likely to backfire on them.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,707   +6,654
My guess is it'll require an AES-256, or maybe even as high as AES-1024, encrypted key to remove that is based on the hardware profile of each specific computer, so it will be uncrackable, but that's just guess.

People just need to upgrade and stop being bitches imo.
I upgraded my work computer which is supported. IMO, there is nothing in Windohs 11 that cannot be done already in Windohs 10.

I think many will raise their middle fingers to this "watermark", and M$ pushing this crap on everyone is something that I think is more likely to backfire on them.
People don't want to run out and buy new hardware just to have the latest version of Windohs. Some people might not be able to afford it.

Just because M$ says "Speak, roll over, play dead, buy new hardware" does not mean people are going to. In fact, I think this Windohs 11 experiment is more likely to backfire on them, and IMO, M$ pushing this "watermark" on "unsupported" PCs is an act of desperation that shows the weaker side of the company.

The fact that they are even allowing installs on "unsupported" hardware is an outright demonstration that their claims of needing new hardware are complete and utter crap. If Windohs 11 is running on "unsupported hardware" that hardware is not "unsupported." TPM, and the other "security" enhancements in Windohs 11 will do nothing for the average user.
 

BigCatsByte

Posts: 11   +9
Not at all happy about this Microsoft, I really like W11 and have it running on several Non Compliant devices. My Alienware 17R4 runs circles around some of the accepted equipment. It fits all the requirements, but the CPU generation. This should have been more like Gen 4 and up, not Gen 8. I've also installed W11 on several older PC's like a Yoga, Surfacebook and HP "Z" Workstations just to see how they run, and they all work great.
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,597   +1,422
Have support once Windows 10 is dropped.
My PC which is an i7 4790K will be 11 years old by the time Windows 10 is out of support and whilst it would be nice for MS to support 11 year old hardware I don’t really expect them to do it.

Besides Windows 10 won’t just stop being useful overnight. It will last longer than October 2025 for what I use it for currently. End of support is more of a concern for business users.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 1,275   +1,774
My guess is it'll require an AES-256, or maybe even as high as AES-1024, encrypted key to remove that is based on the hardware profile of each specific computer, so it will be uncrackable, but that's just guess.

People just need to upgrade and stop being bitches imo.
Buy a Mac. Your kind isn't wanted here.
 

brucek

Posts: 1,134   +1,672
Microsoft's quest to arbitrarily and needlessly turn hundreds of millions of devices into e-waste is a disgusting assault on the world's resources & environment and the governments charged in part with protecting those things should be pushing back much harder.

Their duplicitous claim about this being about "security" makes it as insulting as it wasteful. If it was about security, the watermarks would be shown when the security features, which are user-configurable in both W10 & W11, are disabled in either O/S. (It's also unclear, that of the many configurations that contribute to security or lack thereof, that these are more important than others.)

I appreciate Microsoft's stated intent to help with for example ransomware but if this was true the very last thing they would be doing is planning to arbitrarily end security patch support for hundreds of millions of devices.

It's also unclear to me under what legal theory Microsoft can renounce liability for security bugs in their own software. In 2025, as whatever portions of the hundreds of millions of devices that are not turned into e-waste are instead turned into compromised botnets and other blights on the internet due to not having fixes for product defects that Microsoft is aware of, had fixes for, and simply chose not to distribute, I hope Microsoft is aggressively attacked by class action lawyers for the defects in their product. The US at least has traditionally had a strict product liability legal framework, not sure how MS has been given a legal free pass for so long.
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,597   +1,422
Microsoft's quest to arbitrarily and needlessly turn hundreds of millions of devices into e-waste is a disgusting assault on the world's resources & environment and the governments charged in part with protecting those things should be pushing back much harder.

Their duplicitous claim about this being about "security" makes it as insulting as it wasteful. If it was about security, the watermarks would be shown when the security features, which are user-configurable in both W10 & W11, are disabled in either O/S. (It's also unclear, that of the many configurations that contribute to security or lack thereof, that these are more important than others.)

I appreciate Microsoft's stated intent to help with for example ransomware but if this was true the very last thing they would be doing is planning to arbitrarily end security patch support for hundreds of millions of devices.

It's also unclear to me under what legal theory Microsoft can renounce liability for security bugs in their own software. In 2025, as whatever portions of the hundreds of millions of devices that are not turned into e-waste are instead turned into compromised botnets and other blights on the internet due to not having fixes for product defects that Microsoft is aware of, had fixes for, and simply chose not to distribute, I hope Microsoft is aggressively attacked by class action lawyers for the defects in their product. The US at least has traditionally had a strict product liability legal framework, not sure how MS has been given a legal free pass for so long.
Why do you think Ms will turn machines into E waste? Dropping security updates won’t do that. Sure the system won’t be as secure but it will still work. If you’re just playing games and watching Netflix it will be more than fine. Windows 7 is out of support now but it’s still fine.
 

brucek

Posts: 1,134   +1,672
If it's true that unpatched W7 has no more security problems than patched W10, I'd have to at least somewhat agree. My intuition is that it is not true, but it's hard to find data. W7 has just 0.20% market share per the last Steam survey, probably more on non-gamer machines, but the point is either way it is on such a tiny slice of machines that it not likely to be either a priority target or to cause global problems. That's the advantage of Microsoft having done it right with W10 being a free update on basically every machine that ever ran W7.

The W10 cutoff will not be the same will not be the same as the W7 one because the circumstances are not the same.