Microsoft warns users against installing this Windows 11 update

Laptop user with Android apps running in Windows 11
(Image credit: diy13 / Shutterstock / Microsoft)

We saw yesterday that Microsoft accidentally piped Windows 11 to some PCs which do not meet the system requirements, and the software giant has now clarified that this was a mistake, and that any testers errantly offered an upgrade shouldn’t install the new OS on unsupported hardware.

We say testers (known as Windows Insiders), because this pertained to the preview version of Windows 11 for this year’s big update, and occurred when Windows 11 22H2 was pushed to the Release Preview Channel.

As spotted by Windows Latest, a Microsoft representative acknowledged the mistake on Twitter, and advised that Windows Insiders on ineligible older PCs who’ve mistakenly been presented with the option for a Windows 11 upgrade shouldn’t take it, lest they encounter an installation error.

However, the actual reports from folks who’ve gone ahead and installed Windows 11 vary, with some running into trouble as Microsoft predicts, but others have said the OS works just fine on their unsupported machine.

When the bug was discovered yesterday, Microsoft was quick to pull the update, and pour cold water on the inevitable chatter about whether the software giant was thinking about relaxing the Windows 11 hardware requirements in some manner.

However, Windows Latest reports that some ineligible PCs are still seeing the upgrade banner. If that’s the case, Microsoft is urging users not to perform the upgrade, of course.

Analysis: Another fine mess…

This has been a bit of a mess, really. Offering an upgrade in error is bad enough in the first place, but the fact that there’s still confusion around testers receiving the ability to grab Windows 11 when their PC doesn’t meet the minimum requirements is a pretty poor show.

It doesn’t reflect well on Microsoft’s quality assurance checks within the testing process, with Windows bugs long having been a tiresome subject in terms of their prevalence (and severity in some cases) since Windows 10 first kicked off.

The fact that upgrading seems to work fine for some users doesn’t help, either, despite what Microsoft says about show-stopping errors. One denizen of Twitter wrote: “I was surprised last night when my surface book offered to download win 11 since it was ineligible before. Installation completed and it seems happy. Is there anything I should check that might not work?”

And therein lies the danger: while such an update to Windows 11 might appear to work okay, the user won’t know if there is something wonky lurking in the background. Just because things seem fine initially, doesn’t mean that some kind of ticking time bomb won’t eventually go off, or that some gaping security hole could be left open for exploit, and havoc might be visited on the host system in one way or another. It’s not hard to imagine performance issues could crop up, either, even if there isn’t a crashing explosion of some variety.

Broadly, then, we’d suggest the risk isn’t worth it for those who might still get this upgrade offer, which apparently remains floating around for some users, and as Microsoft advises, the best course of action is doubtless to steer clear.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).