A Concerning Side Effect Of Microsoft’s Newly Announced OS
If you have yet to figure out what will be required of your computer to run Windows 11, then Ars Technica’s breakdown will be a handy reference for you. First off, the chances that you need hardware TPM is minimal, so the the fact that they all sold out minutes after the Win11 announcement shouldn’t get you too depressed. AMD and Intel motherboards usually support firmware TPM, either 1.2 or 2.0 and enabling that in the BIOS should satisfy Windows 11’s TPM; Microsoft have not confirmed nor denied this yet which suggests they at least grasp the fact that people do not buy a TPM module along with their new motherboards.
The requirement for a UEFI with Secure Boot enabled is going to make many older systems obsolete, but if your motherboard isn’t a decade old you should be good to go. The requirement for a GPU of some description which supports DX12 and WDDM 2.0 driver support on the other hand will certainly cause a number of systems to be tossed out.
Those are both going to cause some systems to be retired but it is actually the webcam which could cause the most problem. If you want Windows 11 on your laptop, you will have to have an HD webcam, with Auto Exposure and Auto White Balance. This will mean that a huge amount of OEM laptops, especially from businesses, will need to be replaced. It is possible you might be able to get away with a USB webcam to meet this requirement, but that depends on if the camera is detected and installed before the installation process checks to see if you have one.
Hackaday sees this as a serious problem, not because they won’t be able to run Windows 11, but because of the huge amount of ewaste which will be caused by the pallets of laptops which will be tossed out because of those requirements. In addition to the requirements above, they are also quite concerned by the processor requirements. A quick look shows that Intel processors which predate Coffee Lake/Amber Lake are out, which means that new Surface you just bought probably won’t allow you to install Windows 11.
On the AMD side, that first generation Threadripper is right out, though your Ryzen 3 3200G with Vega 8 and early Zen processors like the Ryzen 3 3100 will be supported. ARM is pretty much right out except for the Snapdragon 850 and a handful of newer chips. A general trend seems to be if your CPU predates 2019, it will need to be replaced if you want to run Windows 11. Seeing as how many OEM laptops come with a three year warranty, this means you will be tossing out your laptop before it’s warrant expires … or you simply stick with Windows 10 until October of 2025.
The amount of garbage that Windows 11 will generate is more than a little concerning, especially considering how it is currently disposed of. The piles of components in African and Asian countries, where most of our ewaste seems to end up will become mountains and contaminate the ground around them further. Add to that the fact that rare metals are named so for a reason, and the shortages of 2020-21 may seem like a pleasant memory.
If so many slightly older machines won’t be able to make the upgrade from Windows 10 it’s likely that a significant number will be discarded even though Windows 10 will continue to be supported until 2025, something that given the scale of the Windows userbase could represent a significant e-waste impact.