Microsoft presses ahead with plans to watermark Windows 11 on older PCs

The Windows key being pushed on a blue laptop
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Microsoft has committed to its initial proposal of adding watermarks to Windows 11 environments that are running on unsupported hardware.

After updating to the latest preview version of Windows 11 (build 22000.588), users have noticed a watermark on the desktop that reads: “System requirements not met”. A similar message also appears in the Windows 11 settings app.

The observation is thought to confirm Microsoft’s plan to warn users that they’re using hardware that isn’t supported but will not impede the performance of the computer itself.

Microsoft has made no official admission that is implementing the watermark for unsupported hardware, omitting it from the latest preview build’s release notes, though testers have reported it since updating.

Microsoft’s decision to impose minimum hardware specifications was a controversial one. Only PCs with a TPM 2.0 chip, Intel 8th-gen Coffee Lake, Zen 2 CPUs, or a higher-spec processor will be able to run the operating system without seeing the watermark.

This means computers running on hardware that pre-dates the Coffee Lake series of chips, which were released in 2017, will not be able to reliably upgrade to Windows 11.

By contrast, Apple’s latest macOS version, Monterey, is compatible with certain devices built as far back as 2013.


Modernise and thrive with Device-as-a-Service

Improving end-user experience through modernisation


PC users previously used open source workarounds to manipulate Windows into allowing an upgrade on unsupported hardware. Users who opted for this route will likely see the watermark on their machines when Microsoft releases the preview build to the wider Windows user base.

Microsoft’s testing of the watermark began in February 2022 with suers noticing the same “System requirements not met” message on their desktop and setting app.

It said at the time that if users willfully install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware, then they should be comfortable risking compatibility issues down the line.

Microsoft device malfunctioning was a possibility and said devices would not be guaranteed to receive security updates, it said on its support page.

The exception to the rule is virtual machines, which will not be subject to the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11.

Connor Jones

Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.