Microsoft tests “Unsupported hardware” watermark on Windows 11 desktop

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Microsoft’s approach to Windows has long been to support as many devices as possible, even when they lacked the hardware to support an ideal computing experience. Things are different with Windows 11, which has a strict set of system requirements – if you don’t have a relatively new processor or hardware security module, no (official) Windows 11 for you. If you install it anyway, a future version of Windows 11 will harass anyone who circumvented these requirements with an “unsupported” watermark on the desktop.

The watermark is not available in the current official version of Windows 11, so don’t look for it on your desktop. It has just appeared in the new preview version of the operating system for Windows Insiders, build number 22000.588. Several Twitter users saw it since last week. The watermark is in the lower right corner, resembling a similar defect that appears if Windows is not activated. However, this watermark will appear on systems with unsupported hardware even if the operating system is activated.

“Requirements not met,” the watermark reads. “Go to settings to learn more.” You can ignore this message if you don’t mind checking it every day on the desktop. If you visit the settings menu, it will direct you to Microsoft’s site to learn more about Windows 11 hardware requirements. However, if you force-installed Windows 11 on an unsupported computer, you’re probably familiar with the requirements very well.

Microsoft requires 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 1GHz dual-core processor. However, this processor must be 8th generation or newer on the Intel side and Zen 2 or newer for AMD. Systems also need a Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0). Although Microsoft doesn’t specifically prevent you from installing Windows 11 on unsupported machines, it probably won’t work well. Microsoft says devices without the right hardware experience more crashes and may not receive system updates on time. The company has yet to downgrade the fixes it offers to “unsupported” systems and there is no evidence to support its crash claims.

For someone who is unaware that their PC has unsupported hardware, this watermark could be an important clue. Those who know and understand the risks can continue to forge their own path and hide the watermark. You will need to edit the registry by changing the value of an entry called “UnsupportedHardwareNotificationCache”. However, there’s no guarantee that Microsoft won’t find another way to shame you later. The version with the watermark has reached “release candidate” status, indicating that it may soon be released.

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