What just happened? Windows 95 occupied less than 100MB upon installation. A clean Windows 11 install, however, needs around 20GB. Nobody doubts that software will need more data as technology marches forward, but many believe Windows hasn't justified a 20,000% install size increase over 28 years. One developer may have proven this with a custom installation that cuts Windows 11 to half its default size.

This week, NTDEV released Tiny11, a version of Windows 11 that needs only ~8GB of your hard drive and can run on 2GB of RAM. It also removes Windows 11's somewhat demanding system requirements, but users should know it makes some steep sacrifices to slim down.

A streamlined version of Windows 11 Pro 22H2, Tiny11 comes in an ISO available on archive.org that's just 3GB compared to Microsoft's official 5.1GB ISO download.

The smaller version of Microsoft's operating system includes the bare necessities like accessibility software, the Calculator, Notepad, and Paint. It also retains the Microsoft Store, so users can install whatever extra Microsoft software they need. The system comes with local accounts by default but can also use online accounts.

The sacrifice NTDEV credits the most for downsizing Windows 11 is the Windows Component Store (WinSxS). Without it, users won't be able to install new languages or major features. The developer says Tiny11 is "not serviceable," but confirms the system can receive .NET, drivers, and security definitions through Windows Update.

NTDEV assures users concerned about the security risks of a custom Windows version that Tiny11 doesn't contain anything from non-Microsoft sources. However, users anxious about privacy shouldn't install it expecting to be totally free of Microsoft's telemetry.

Tiny11's main goal is to broaden the range of systems that can access Windows 11. The custom edition can run on any system that runs Windows 10 and can dual boot with that OS.

Windows 11 launched to controversy over its surprisingly strict system requirements, particularly regarding CPUs. Due to TPM requirements, the OS normally needs at least an 8th-gen Intel Core or AMD Zen+ processor. Unsupported systems can run Windows 11, but doing so requires going through extra hoops, which Tiny11 eliminates.

StatCounter latest figures indicate Windows 11 has yet to reach one in five Windows users. Microsoft's latest OS is still gaining market share, but far more slowly than Windows 10 which still runs on at least 70 percent of Windows systems.