Microsoft's new security chip will not lock devices to Windows 11 as feared

Microsoft Pluton
(Image credit: Microsoft)

New PCs (opens in new tab) released this year that ship with Microsoft's Pluton security chip (opens in new tab) will still be able to run other operating systems besides Windows 11 (opens in new tab).

While it was initially feared by the open-source community and others that Pluton would serve as a means to lock equipment to the latest version of Windows, that isn't the case at all. Instead, in addition to being able to install Linux (opens in new tab) and BSD (opens in new tab), PC makers and even users themselves will be able to turn off the feature entirely.

The first Windows 11 PCs with Pluton built-in were shown off at CES 2022 (opens in new tab) and Intel, AMD and Qualcomm are all planning to embed Microsoft's security chip in their latest or upcoming microprocessors.

Pluton itself can act as a Trusted Platform Module (TPM (opens in new tab)) or as a non-TPM security coprocessor according to a new report (opens in new tab) by The Register. Essentially the new security chip will serve as a way for Microsoft to show chipmakers how it wants TPM to be present in microprocessors going forward.

Enabled or disabled

PC makers have the option to ship their new Windows 11 PCs with Pluton either enabled or disabled though end users will also be able to reverse this decision if they want to.

Microsoft's Pluton design was integrated into AMD's latest Ryzen 6000 (opens in new tab) chips but users will be able to disable the security chip on machines that follow the chipmaker's reference firmware. This can be done in the company's reference BIOS.

The Register also learned from a Lenovo spokesperson that Pluton will be disabled by default on the company's new Z13, Z16, T14, T16, T14s, P16s and X13 ThinkPads (opens in new tab) that feature Ryzen 6000-series processors. However, users will be able to enable Pluton themselves.

Meanwhile, Intel's latest Alder Lake processors will include a Pluton-equivalent called Intel Platform Trust Technology (opens in new tab) which is a TPM 2.0 compatible component.

We've also rounded up the best business laptops (opens in new tab), best workstations (opens in new tab) and best mobile workstations (opens in new tab)

Via The Register (opens in new tab)

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.