Have you already switched from Windows 10 to Windows 11? Many PC users shy away from a major update, you don't know what can go wrong. In addition, word has gotten around: The new Windows is very similar to the old one. At first glance, the revolution does not materialize, and one should not expect great improvements. But many people who want to update are forced to continue using their old Windows 10 because the computer does not meet the indispensable requirements for switching to the young Windows. The keywords: TPM module, secure boot and outdated processor. Those who cannot update will no longer be allowed to let their device access the Internet from October 2025 onwards, because Microsoft will not provide security updates for private users from that point on.

Michael Spehr

Editor in the "Technology and Engine" department.

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Although it will be some time before that happens, politicians, environmental associations and advance organizations are already beginning with an outcry: millions of computers that are not so old would have to be taken out of service, and a huge wave of electronic waste is rolling towards Europe. Politicians want to prevent the end of support "in any case," as the SPD parliamentary group says. The Greens speak of planned "device obsolescence" and once again demand a "right to repair". Other voices say that Microsoft is creating its own economic stimulus package with arbitrarily set requirements. This is how conspiracy theories start. If the PC is no longer updated, the user will have to buy a new one. With the PC integrity check for Windows 10, anyone can check on their computer whether the change works.

Pure arbitrariness?

But what are the high hurdles that Microsoft has erected for its new operating system? Critics point out that, for example, a PC with seventh-generation Core i5 processors purchased six years ago will be deprived of the update, but the eighth-generation Core i5 available in the same year will run under Windows 11 without any problems. Pure arbitrariness? Yes, that may be true, especially since the requirements of Windows in terms of computing power, memory and mass storage in versions 10 and 11 have one thing in common: they are ridiculously low.

Microsoft only requires a 64-bit processor with at least 1 gigahertz clock frequency and two CPU cores, 4 GB of RAM and a hard disk or SSD with at least 64 GB capacity. Even a 15-year-old computer can easily keep up. So Microsoft could have saved itself the CPU limit. However, it should be noted that Apple also sets similar hard limits for newer operating systems in its Mac OS and no longer supports old computers, although the new software also works with them without any problems.

Concerns security

The most important requirements of Windows 11 are security. There is no mistake here: The mandatory Trusted Platform Module according to version 2.0 of the TPM specification is a security chip that contains a root of trust independent of processor, memory and mass memory as well as operating system. The secret value never leaves the TPM and serves as the substructure of a cryptographic certificate chain. The TPM can sign and verify other digital certificates, generate secure keys, and provide protected storage space for additional requests. A TPM chip sits in computers that have been sold since 2016 and many processors contain a chipset for a firmware TPM. Sometimes the TPM is not turned on.

The second Windows 11 requirement for a mandatory computer boot in UEFI boot mode also eliminates security deficiencies that have been known since the 1990s. As early as 2006, Microsoft had stipulated that computers that wanted to participate in the "Windows Logo Program" had to boot with UEFI. Many hardware manufacturers still used old and insecure firmware tinkering for their PCs. This will come to an end in the future. The UEFI boot process of a computer contains numerous security checks, including the firmware verifying its own digital signature. Many risks are thus significantly reduced. Overall, Microsoft strengthens PC security with the mandatory start in UEFI mode and makes it more difficult to push malware in.

Both steps are consistently pointing in the right direction. Experts assume that a Windows computer will be replaced after five years, at least in business use. According to current estimates, around 80 percent of existing devices can be upgraded to Windows 11. Anyone who points out the resulting e-waste overlooks the huge problem of insecure old computers, which cannot be protected against malware either with a naively postulated "right to repair" or by loud political measures.