How to upgrade to Windows 11 even if your PC is a little too old

With Windows 11, Microsoft has introduced new minimum requirements for the hardware on which the operating system can run. Among other things, a relatively new processor is required and that the security module called TPM 2.0 is available and activated.

But it is entirely possible to upgrade older PCs to Windows 11 as well, by bypassing the processor and TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module) check.

This does not mean that every Windows 10 machine can be upgraded to Windows 11, but probably a good many more. However, there is a certain risk associated with this, something we will return to.

In order to upgrade a PC to Windows 11, sufficient memory and storage space will be required anyway. The PC must have at least 4 gigabytes of memory (RAM) and 64 gigabytes of storage space, and Secure Boot must be enabled. Recipes on how to do this can be found at this page.

You do not completely escape the TPM

In addition to the relatively modest requirements for memory and storage space, there must still be an active TPM chip in the machine, but it holds with an older one, more specifically TPM 1.2 or newer.

Whether the PC has such a module, and whether it is activated, can be checked quite easily. Go to the search field in Windows 10, type “tpm.msc”, select the first search result, and a tool will open that looks like this:

The TPM tool in Windows 10. This on a PC with TPM 1.2 module. Screenshot:

This tool states that no compatible TPM can be found, so it may be that the PC does not have such a chip, or that it is not activated in BIOS / UEFI. The latter will require entering the BIOS / UEFI settings and, if possible, activating it there. How this is done varies from PC to PC and motherboard to motherboard. Check the user manual which is securely available online.

Once this is done, you should check the tpm.msc tool again. Something may also need to be done there, such as the “Prepare TPM” action, even if the TPM module has been activated.

Download the file

Once you have confirmed that the TPM module is active, it is time to download an ISO file with Windows 11 on it. This can be done from this page, under the heading “Download the ISO image (disk image) for Windows 11”. Choose the correct language when this question arises.

The file is 5.1 gigabytes, so it may take some time to download. In the meantime, you can do the little trick needed to get the Windows 11 installation to ignore that your PC does not have a TPM 2.0 module and a new enough processor.

The little trick

Go back to the search field in Windows and enter “regedit”. Then the Register Editor tool appears in the search suggestions. It is important to be careful when making changes to this tool. Mistakes made can cause things to stop working.

To the left of Registry Editor is a hierarchy. Click through this until you have reached the registry key «HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SYSTEM Setup MoSetup»:

Create a new value in the correct place in the Windows registry.
Create a new value in the correct place in the Windows registry. Screenshot:

Click with the mouse in the field to the right of the editing tool and right-click. Then you get a menu where you can create new values. Select “DWORD Value” from the menu and name the value “AllowUpgradesWithUnsupportedTPMOrCPU”.

Select the new value, right-click on it and select “Change”. Then type “1” in the “Value data” field.

Give the value the correct name and enter 1 in the Value data field.
Give the value the correct name and enter 1 in the Value data field. Photo:

You can then close the Registry Editor tool.

It is by no means who has invented this. The same method is described by Microsoft on this page. However, you should not do this if you are not quite sure you want to upgrade to Windows 11 right now.

Tested on three different PCs

We have tested the procedure on three different PCs, none of which are basically new enough to run Windows 11. All are in daily use, so we did not take the risk of completing the installation this time. Instead, we stopped the installation processes before making significant changes to the PCs.

One PC has no TPM module at all. With this we came no way.

The other has TPM 1.2 module and too old processor. On this one we got past the hardware check, and the installer was well underway with the next step when we stopped it.

The third PC has a TPM 2.0 module, but for an old processor. Not surprisingly, it went well to get past the hardware check on this machine as well.

The further installation process is probably largely the same as on officially supported PCs, although there may be occasional additional warnings or disclaimers.

May cause future problems

Even if the installation of Windows 11 should be good, this is not done completely without risk. Microsoft does not recommend installing the new operating system on PCs that do not meet the minimum requirements.

The company writes:

«The device may not work properly due to these compatibility issues or other issues. Devices that do not meet these system requirements are no longer guaranteed to receive updates, including but not limited to security updates.»

What this means in practice may not become apparent until after using the PC for a while, for example when the first major update of Windows 11 becomes available. It is not a given that this can be installed.

Fortunately, it is possible to return to Windows 10 again, if you do not delete the old installation. This can be done via the start menu in Windows 11:

Start> Settings> System> Recovery> Return.

Since we have not completed the installation of Windows 11 on these PCs, we have not tested how reliable the recovery of Windows 10 really is.

Be prepared for things to go wrong

Basically, we would advise against trying this on PCs that are in “production”, ie as it is not so dangerous if you have to work a bit to make it work again, if things go wrong. You may want to have a USB stick with the Windows 10 installation media available in case things cut themselves completely.

The Windows product key used on the PC can also be useful to have on hand.

There are apparently no built-in tools in Windows 10 that state the product key in each case, but there are third-party tools that can do the job, of course at your own risk. Showkeyplus is one such tool that is published as open source.



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