It will be one thing, say, later this year or in 2022, to buy a new PC with Windows 11. We can be reasonably certain that Windows 11 will run on your new Dell, HP, or Lenovo PC. Maybe some of your drivers and programs won't run, but Windows 11 itself? No problem.
But, if you want to update your existing computers, especially those that have a few years on them -- that’s another story. It's difficult to know whether any given computer will run Windows 11, which arrives October 5.
Yes, there's Microsoft's PC Health Check app and other programs to determine whether you can run Windows 11. But Microsoft pulled it the first time around and I'm none too sure how reliable it is this time around.
There are other "Can I run Windows 11?" programs. (I like the free and open-source WhyNotWin11.) But the only way you can really know if your PC will run Windows 11 is to, well, try to run Windows 11 on your PC.
That can be an expensive and annoying experiment. Sure, the upgrade itself is free. But no one's going to be paying you -- unless you're someone like me who writes about this stuff -- to upgrade your Windows 10 machine and then find out it doesn't work right or it doesn't support an essential application. In fact, Computerworld's own Microsoft Patch Lady, Susan Bradley, recommends you hold off on moving to Windows 11.
Microsoft remains confused as ever about what can, and can't, run Windows 11. For example, and I'm not making this up: Microsoft has relaxed its Windows 11 Insider Program beta rules so you can run Windows 11 beta releases on PCs that won't be able to run Windows 11 when it ships October 5.
Why would the company do this? Doesn’t it know it’s going to tick off some of their most loyal users who want an early jump at Windows 11 when those users discover -- surprise! -- they can't run Windows 11 after all? That makes no sense.
I’ve been running the Windows 11 Beta Channel 22000.184 release on a new computer -- a Beelink GTR7 Mini PC -- bought just so I could check out the new OS. This PC is powered by a 4GHz AMD Ryzen 7 3750H processor. The CPU is backed by 16GB DDR4 RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD for storage.
In short, it's a decent PC. And after fooling around with Windows 11 for six weeks now, I can safely say I see no point in "upgrading" to it.
I do think there's one good reason to move to Windows 11. It has better security, presuming your hardware can support it. But, and pay attention now, it turns out you can turn on most of Windows 11's security goodness in Windows 10.
As Jason Perlow recently pointed out: "If you are running the 20H2 release (Windows 10 October 2020 Update) as a consumer, small business, or enterprise, you can take advantage of these ["new" security features] if you deploy Group Policy or simply click into Windows 10's Device Security menu to switch them on.
He's right. You can. The tools are already there. I've done it myself on three of my older Windows PCs. All of which, I might add, probably won't run the final version of Windows 11.
Perlow goes into detail about how to do this, so I don’t need to repeat him here. My point is that since you can lock down Windows 10 on newer PCs just as well as Windows 11 -- without any danger or trouble -- there's really no good reason to upgrade.