What Businesses Need to Know about Upgrading to Windows 11

On October 5th, 2021, Microsoft released Windows 11. In this article, we are sharing the information needed on Windows 11 to make an informed decision about if and when businesses should upgrade the existing Windows 10 installations. 

Windows 11 Editions 

Windows 11 has the same editions as its predecessor. They are: 

  • Windows 11 Pro 
  • Windows 11 Pro for Workstations 
  • Windows 11 Pro Education 
  • Windows 11 Education 
  • Windows 11 Enterprise 
  • Windows 11 IoT Enterprise 
  • Windows 11 Home 

Having the same editions will make it easier for businesses to upgrade their computers. And the price is right — Windows 11 is a free upgrade no matter which edition is being used. The computers just need to be running Windows 10 (version 2004 or later) and meet the Windows 11 system requirements. 

The System Requirements 

Windows 11’s minimum system requirements are as follows: 

  • A 64-bit compatible processor or System on a Chip (SoC) that is 1 gigahertz or faster and has two or more cores. It is important to note that Windows 11 is not available as a 32-bit OS, but it does support 32-bit Windows apps. 
  • At least 4 gigabytes (GB) of random-access memory (RAM). 
  • At least 64 GB of storage space for the Windows 11 installation. Additional storage space might be needed to enable specific features and download updates. 
  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware that is Secure Boot capable. The legacy Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) firmware is not supported. 
  • Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0. Virtually all computers built since 2015 include TPM 2.0 support, according to experts. However, it might need to be enabled in the firmware settings. 
  • A graphics card that is compatible with DirectX 12 (or later). It must have a Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 2.0 driver. 
  • A 9-inch (or larger) monitor that has a high-definition display (aka 720p display) and 8 bits assigned per color channel. 
  • An Internet connection to perform updates. In addition, some features need an Internet connection to work. 
  • A Microsoft account if Windows 11 Home edition is being installed. This edition does not support local accounts. 

Some features have additional requirements. You can find a complete list on the “Windows 11 requirements” web page. This site also includes information on what is needed to run Windows 11 on a virtual machine (VM). 

Microsoft’s free PC Health Check app can be used to see whether the organization’s computers can run Windows 11. The app identifies compatibility issues that will prevent an upgrade. The older the computer, the less likely it will pass the compatibility check. Computers purchased before 2017 are almost certain to be incompatible, according to experts. 

In some cases, Windows 11 can be installed on computers that do not meet the minimum requirements. However, this is risky. Microsoft will not support these installations, which is particularly detrimental because they will be prone to compatibility problems. In addition, unsupported installations do not receive updates, so these computers will be at higher risk of cyberattacks. 

While the Windows 11 requirements are stringent, Microsoft has its reasons for establishing them. Besides improving reliability and app compatibility, the more advanced hardware helps protect Windows 11 devices from cyberattacks. For example, Secure Boot prevents malicious code from being installed when a computer starts up. 

The Rollout 

The upgrade to Windows 11 is optional. This means organizations can continue to use Windows 10 for several more years if desired, as it is not scheduled for retirement until October 14, 2025

For those that want to upgrade to Windows 11, Microsoft is distributing it in a phased rollout through Windows Update. The phased rollout is expected to last until mid-2022. Information about the rollout’s progress and the problems being encountered can be found on the “Windows 11 known issues and notifications” web page. 

When it is your organization’s turn to download Windows 11, a notification will appear in the “Windows Update” page in Windows 10’s Settings app, assuming the PC meets the minimum system requirements. If a computer does not meet the requirements, a message will be received. At this point the PC Health Check app needs to be run to find out which requirements are not being met. 

If you do not want to wait for the download invitation to arrive, you can obtain Windows 11 from the “Download Windows 11” web page. However, you must first make sure that the computer meets the minimum system requirements. The methods to install Windows 11 are the same as those used to install Windows 10. 

Windows 11 Support 

Microsoft has improved the support policies for Windows 11. It is now providing two years of support for the Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Pro for Education editions. This is a six-month extension compared to Windows 10. The support periods for the other editions have also been extended to three years. 

Microsoft has also changed how often it will be releasing feature updates. They will now be issued annually in the second half of the year. Security updates — which Microsoft refers to as “quality updates” because they also include non-security fixes — will continue to be released on the second Tuesday of each month. 

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade? 

Deciding whether upgrade to Windows 11 now, later, or perhaps not at all depends on the needs of the organization and its users. MicroAge will work with you to determine the best course of action based on your organization’s requirements and needs. Contact us today. 

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As service providers to more than 300 companies, the dedicated professionals at MicroAge are second to none when it comes to managed services. By improving efficiency, cutting costs and reducing downtime, we can help you achieve your business goals!

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