Q: I got a notice that my rather fast AMD FX-9590 CPU (central processing unit) is not going to be able to run Windows 11. So I went to see what CPUs will run Windows 11. If I am reading the list correctly, almost all computers with CPUs more than 4 years old will be unusable.

There must be millions of computers used by major corporations that will become obsolete after Oct. 14, 2025. Does Microsoft really believe that only gamers will be using Windows within 4 years? Replacing corporation computers will cost billions, but they might do it, but for the common Windows user, laying out $500 (or much more) for a new computer is going to be pretty much out of the question.

I would be interested to read your opinion on what this is going to do to the average Windows user.

Bruce Faber

A: Yes, Microsoft’s recent announcement that Windows 11 would not support 7th-generation and older Intel CPUs, as well as AMD Ryzen 1000 CPUs and older, certainly kicked up a firestorm in tech media publication. And yes, even though your AMD FX-9590 is darn fast it isn’t on the list of supported CPUs.

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According to Microsoft, that’s because CPU speed isn’t the only consideration in designing Windows 11. Microsoft reportedly built Windows 11 with an emphasis on security, requiring CPUs that support Virtualization-Based Security (VBS) and Hypervisor-Protected Code Integrity (HVCI). Both technologies are designed to isolate application operations from potential vulnerabilities in the operating system.

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Any processor older than 2017 is likely not supported by Windows 11. If you want to check for a specific processor, Microsoft offers a full list here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/design/minimum/windows-processor-requirements

Given the rapid growth in hacking and ransomware attacks, this move is likely to be very popular with organizations that are frequent targets of hackers and malware — the military, corporations, governments, academia, hospitals and the like. And given that the average life span of desktop computers has been pegged by the industry at four to seven years, and of notebook computers at three to five years, Microsoft’s timeline seems fairly reasonable.

For most consumers, there are three reasons not to be too concerned about Windows 11 compatibility. First, as you note Microsoft will still be supporting Windows 10 until October 2025. After that, while you’ll be able to use Windows 10 Microsoft won’t be providing security updates or new features for the operating system.

Secondly, in the past, Microsoft has sometimes extended its support for OS versions past scheduled end dates. I’m betting that if Microsoft sees a large segment of its market unable to move to Windows 11 it will extend support for Windows 10 until that changes.

Third, apart from stronger security, there’s not a lot to pull Windows 10 users to Windows 11. It has Microsoft Teams built into the OS, but Windows 10 users can download and install Microsoft Teams if they want that business communications platform.

And Windows 11 also offers some new ways to organize your desktop.

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For the most part, however, from my initial look at Windows 11, I haven’t seen any feature changes that draw me in. I’ve only been using Windows 11 for a week but so far I’m operating in the Windows 11 world just the same as in the Windows 10 world.

There will no doubt be some users who feel forced to upgrade their equipment if Microsoft actually ends support for Windows 10 after 2025. And I agree that would be a shame.

But consider the alternative. Imagine if operating systems had to guarantee functionality on the oldest operating computers. We’d still be staring at DOS prompts on monochrome screens.