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Windows 11 is the latest version of Microsoft's consumer and professional operating system. Debuting in October 2021, it includes many user interface updates as well as various improvements under the hood. We've had a lot of questions from both new and existing customers about Windows 11, so we have compiled this FAQ to answer the most commonly asked queries. Please note that some of this information is specific to prospective and existing Puget Systems customers, but much of it is more widely applicable.
We will be updating this FAQ for a few weeks following the launch of Windows 11, as new information comes out. If you have questions that are not already answered here, please feel free to leave them in the comments section and we may add them to the list.
Launch & Availability
When is Microsoft launching Windows 11 for the public?
Windows 11 has been available in beta for some time now, but it is launching publicly on October 5th, 2021.
How much does Windows 11 cost?
Windows 11 costs about the same amount as Windows 10 did, and other recent Windows versions before that. However, it is a free upgrade for users already running a licensed version of Windows 10 – assuming your computer meets the minimum system requirements.
Does Puget Systems offer Windows 11?
We spent a lot of time testing and qualifying Windows 11 on the various types of systems we build. As of December 10th, 2021 we now offer Windows 11 as an option on our Recommended Systems – for applications which do not have known compatibility concerns – and by customer request on our Hardware Platforms. As we confirm official support for more software packages we will expand the number of places it is offered in our lineup, and at some point in the future it should be an option on all of our configurations.
If I get a computer now with Windows 10, can I be sure of being able to upgrade to 11?
Here at Puget Systems, virtually all of the computers we are selling now meet the system requirements for Windows 11 – and we are making sure to configure the BIOS properly for things like onboard TPM functionality (see System Requirements, below, for more information). The only exception to this, as of publication time, is our Xeon W based workstations and servers which require the addition of a TPM chip that you can request from our consultants.
What are the hardware requirements for Windows 11?
Microsoft has provided the following as system requirements for installing or upgrading to Windows 11:
Processor: Compatible 1GHz+ dual-core 64-bit CPU (list of supported models: Intel | AMD)
Video Card: DirectX 12 supported GPU
Memory (RAM): 4GB+
Additional Required Features: UEFI, Secure Boot, TPM 2.0
How can I tell if my computer is compatible with Windows 11?
You can check your system for compatibility with Windows 11 via the PC Health Check App, a free tool provided by Microsoft. A similar 3rd party utility developed by rcmaehl called WhyNotWin11 may also be helpful, particularly if Microsoft's app is unavailable (they took it offline for a time, and some users have had trouble downloading it).
If the only thing that is missing is TPM 2.0 support, you may also be able to enable that (if your computer supports it, but it is just not currently enabled).
For Puget Systems customers, our Support team is also available via phone and email to assist in determining compatibility.
What is a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and why does Windows 11 need it?
As noted above, Microsoft has stated that systems must have Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 support in order to run Windows 11. TPM is a hardware-based security feature, which can be used by the operating system or certain applications to help facilitate data encryption. Windows 7 and 10 had optional features which could make use of TPM, like Bitlocker (drive encryption) and Windows Hello (facial recognition as a login method). With Windows 11, TPM has gone from being optional to required in order to ensure that all of the new security features Microsoft has added will work properly.
Many newer computers have TPM functionality built into the CPU or motherboard, but with some computers it may be a physically separate module that needs to be installed. Older systems may not have support for TPM 2.0 at all, however, nor any way to add it.
How can I tell if my system has a TPM?
Running the PC Health Check App, mentioned above, will tell you if you have TPM functionality enabled. However, if it reports that you do not have TPM 2.0 then it may simply be turned off in the motherboard BIOS settings. Our Support Department addressed how to check for that feature and enable it (if available) in this article.
If you don't want to install a whole app, you can also check to see if your current installation of Windows sees a TPM in the system by going to Run (shortcut: Windows key + R), typing in "tpm.msc", and pressing Enter (or clicking OK). Please note that this will only tell you if Windows detects an active TPM – if there is one present, but it is disabled, none of these methods will reveal that.
Is there any way to get around the TPM or other system requirements?
Apparently there is a way to create installation media for Windows 11 which skips some of the hardware checks normally performed prior to installing – but we strongly recommend against this. It is entirely possible that loading Windows 11 onto hardware that is not fully compatible, or is missing key security features, will prevent proper updates in the future – which could leave the system at greater risk for malware and decrease stability. Here at Puget, we will not be able to provide OS or software support for computers running Windows 11 which are not fully compatible.
Features & Performance
What new features are in Windows 11?
Windows 11 features an updated user interface (UI) and supposedly improved security features. We have a separate article covering some – but by no means all! – of the exciting new stuff you can expect to find. Microsoft's landing page for Windows 11 also touts several features related to connecting with folks, multitasking, and gaming.
Are the programs I use going to be compatible with Windows 11?
Most software that worked on Windows 10 should work on Windows 11 as well, but because it is so new there are many professional applications that are not yet officially compatible. That could mean anything from a program not working at all to simply having some strange, buggy behaviors. For example, we ran into a situation when testing Unreal Engine where an error would come up when opening a project – even though it opened just fine, and the program continued to run despite the error indicating it had crashed. That isn't something that would prevent use of it, but it is certainly an annoyance.
Because of the potential for such issues, we would advise waiting on upgrading to Windows 11 until all of your important applications have official support for the new version from their developers. Hopefully software makers will highlight that, as Adobe is doing with status updates about Windows 11 support for their various programs here.
Will my applications perform better on Windows 11?
Our early testing shows that application performance on the initial release of Windows 11 varies quite a bit. In some situations it is comparable to Windows 10, while some things are faster – but some are also slower. It is a very mixed bag overall, so unless you are using a very specific combination of CPU and software that sees a performance gain then it may be best to hold off and see if updates improve the situation in the future. If you want to dig into more detail, here is a list of articles with our test results and more in-depth discussion about various workflows:
- Windows 11 Performance for Video Editing
- Windows 11 Performance for Rendering
- Windows 11 Performance in Unreal Engine
Upgrading from Windows 10
Is it safe to upgrade from Windows 10 to 11, or should I do a clean install?
Upgrading your version of Windows in-place allows you to keep applications and files you have intact, but historically we have sometimes seen that cause problems for users. A clean installation is safer and our recommendation, but also involves a lot more work – both to get Windows 11 installed, and then also to reload all your programs and put documents back where they belong.
In the end, most folks will probably want to go with an upgrade – or at least give it a try – but while that should retain your files, it is important to backup your stuff beforehand just to be safe. In fact, it is a good idea to always maintain up-to-date backups… but it is especially critical to make (or refresh) backups before performing a major change like an OS upgrade. We have a support guide for Puget customers to help with getting ready for a Windows 11 upgrade which also links to recommendations for backing up.
Those who would prefer to do a clean installation will also want to make sure their data is backed up, of course, as well as a few additional considerations:
- Create installation media beforehand and make sure that you can boot to it properly
- Make sure you have installation programs or discs for all of your applications, or that they are readily available for download
- Locate your Windows installation key (either a new one, provided with a purchased license for Windows 11, or your Windows 10 key if using your legal license of that OS instead – this appears to work as an alternative to an in-place upgrade of Windows 10)
- Double-check that you have backed up all the files you care about, because once you start the clean installation it will wipe the drive and everything you had before will be gone!
Should I upgrade to Windows 11 right away, or wait for a while?
If you are a Puget Systems customer, we recommend contacting our Support Department prior to upgrading so that we can provide advice specifically tailored to your hardware configuration. We are currently testing the systems we actively sell to make sure they behave properly with Windows 11, so if you purchased your workstation recently we should be able to tell you if it will behave well in the near future. For older computers, we may still be able offer some insight into whether there are any known issues you are likely to face.
More broadly, unless you like to be right on the cutting edge of technology, we would advise caution about upgrading to a new operating system right away. There are often bugs in the initial releases of new software, and OSes are no different – so unless you want to risk encountering those bugs, it may be good to wait until things have settled down in a few weeks or months.
Another factor to consider is support for older applications. Microsoft has generally been very good about maintaining backward compatibility with software and peripherals when they release new versions of Windows, but if you have any mission-critical programs or accessories then it would be a good idea to check with their developers (or other users, if they are no longer being supported by their manufacturers) to see if there are any known compatibility issues with Windows 11.
Can Puget upgrade my computer to Windows 11 if I send my system in?
Absolutely! While we can easily walk existing Puget Systems customers through the in-place upgrade over the phone, if you would rather have a fresh installation of Windows 11, we would be happy to handle that for you. There are a few important things to note, however:
- Please be patient, as we will need to wait until we have qualified Windows 11 on various hardware configurations before we will be ready to install it.
- We can only upgrade systems which are fully compatible with Windows 11. Please see the tools linked to earlier in this FAQ to check your computer beforehand, and check out our article on preparing for Windows 11.
- Make sure that you backup all user data before sending the system! Not only will the fresh installation of Windows wipe out all data on the C: drive, there is always a risk that your system is lost or damaged in transit – so please make sure you have copies of all your files from all drives in the system (not just the C: drive).
- You will be responsible for the cost of shipping the system to us, and we will cover return shipping to you.
- Please contact our Support Department to reserve a spot on our repair calendar and so we can help advise on the pre-transition steps above (and any other things which may need to happen first).
Staying on Windows 10
How long will Microsoft be supporting Windows 10?
Microsoft has said that they "will continue to support at least one Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel until October 14, 2025."
It is possible that they will end the option of a free upgrade from Windows 10 to 11 at some point before that, but you can still upgrade from Windows 7 to 10 for free as of the first writing of this FAQ – so it is likely to be a long-term program.
Can a new computer still be purchased with Windows 10?
Each manufacturer is likely to have a different answer to this question, but here at Puget Systems we do plan to offer Windows 10 Pro concurrently with Windows 11 – at least for a while, as we see how Windows 11 does with a wide deployment and how our customers like it. Looking back at past releases, we offered both Windows XP and 7 for a long time because of how popular those two versions were (and how unpopular their respective "replacements" were).