I, among many, was very surprised when Microsoft decided to renege on its promise of “Windows 10, the last Windows Operating System” and release a Windows 11. I was even more surprised, probably shocked would be a better description, at the mandatory Windows 11 requirements. Then again, considering Microsoft’s ever-increasing dictatorial attitude, I guess one shouldn’t be overly surprised.
Comments such as “relax, you can still run Windows 10 until 2025” in response to complaints are, in my opinion, missing the point. While it’s true that Windows 10 will still be supported until October 2025, why should users who own healthy PCs that are perfectly capable of running Windows 11 be denied the choice of upgrading just because of Microsoft’s over-the-top requirements?
The TPM requirement is of particular concern. TPM is an obscure security protocol (at least it was until Microsoft announced Windows 11) that has always been niche. In fact, it’s so niche that, even when supported, it is usually disabled. I have already explained in a previous article that many modern PCs do not support TPM:
- Please read: What You Need To Know About TPM
It is more than conceivable, in fact quite likely, that a user could pay $$$$ for a brand new high-end machine tomorrow that will not meet Windows 11’s TPM requirement.
Windows 11 Requirements Create Expensive Doorstops
Also, consider this; many users own PCs that are 2- 3 years old, quite a few of which will fail to meet requirements for Windows 11. In four years’ time, when Windows 10 reaches end-of-support, those machines will be 6- 7 years old and potentially still going strong. What then are those users supposed to do when they are unable to run Windows 11? Continue running Windows 10 even though the now unsupported operating system is destined to become a security nightmare, or perhaps install Linux? Or maybe use the old machine as a rather expensive doorstop?
Secure Boot And TPM
Secure boot was first proposed as a mandatory requirement for Windows 8 but, in the face of a tumultuous user backlash, Microsoft ended up adjusting its licensing terms to allow manufacturers to include an option to disable it. Now, with Windows 11, we have another mandatory security protocol called TPM. Both Secure Boot and TPM were created largely to help protect corporate environments involving multiple networked PCs with multiple users. I seriously question their necessity for home users.
I have been running Windows machines for more than 20 years without Secure Boot (disabled since Windows 8) or TPM, yet have never experienced any repercussions, and I suspect most home users could say the same. TPM has been introduced to help protect against firmware attacks and Ransomware in particular. Answer me this; if you were a cybercriminal looking to cash in on Ransomware, would you target your average home users whose financial resources would be questionable, or wealthy organizations? I have little doubt that cybercriminals consider potential returns when selecting their targets and I seriously doubt that home users would be anywhere near the top of the list.
Furthermore, the types of attacks that TPM is reported to protect against cannot do any harm without some sort of user interaction — such as opening a malicious email attachment or clicking on a malicious link. The chances of that happening are vastly elevated in a corporate environment where multiple users are involved and, while the risk remains for home users, it is nowhere near as severe, especially if the home user is security conscious.
Regardless, should we not at least be given the choice? After all, we own our PCs and, at some time down the track, have paid good money for the Windows operating system, surely we should have some say? Make TPM optional and then users can choose for themselves whether they want the additional security or not. Or, better still, make TPM mandatory for enterprise deployments and optional for home users. Simple really.
I read recently where Microsoft has announced that the company has no intention of softening its Windows 11 requirements:
Microsoft Program Manager Aria Carley recently addressed the issue during an Ask Me Anything webcast. When asked about the controversy, Carley said: “Group policy will not enable you to get around the hardware enforcement for Windows 11. We’re still going to block you from upgrading your device to an unsupported state ~ source
I believe that to be an unwise decision and one that may well result in serious repercussions for the Redmond giant. I certainly hope so.
- Please read Marc’s excellent article: Windows 11 – What Are They Smoking At Microsoft?