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How to Install Windows 11 on an Unsupported Computer

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How to install Windows 11 on a computer that does not support Windows 11.

How to install Windows 11 on a computer that does not support Windows 11.

Installing Windows 11 onto an Unsupported Computer

This article helps anyone that wants to try out Windows 11 on a computer that does not support Windows 11.

That said, I have installed Windows 11 on a 12-year-old desktop computer, which does not have any of the requirements imposed by Microsoft, and it has been working fine for over a year. It has been getting updates and it has been reliable. That said, Microsoft might decide to turn off my updates tomorrow, and that might be the end of it. It will not be a great problem for me as I can buy a new computer if that happens, or go back to Windows 10.

Do I Need to Buy a Licence?

You will need a licence to use Windows 11. There is a 30-day grace period during which Microsoft allows you to use Windows 11 without restrictions. After this 30-day grace period, you will either have to buy a licence or go back to your previous operating system.

That said, Windows 11 is offered to all Windows 10 users as a free upgrade. So if you already have Windows 10, then you can do this upgrade at no extra cost, even if your computer does not meet Windows 11 minimum requirements.

How Long Will the Free Upgrade Last?

According to Microsoft, the free upgrade offer does not have a specific end date for eligible systems. But bear in mind that Microsoft reserves the right to end the free upgrade offer. So if you don't upgrade and they withdraw the offer, then you will have to pay. However, if you upgrade first and then Microsoft withdraw the free offer, you can keep your upgraded Windows.

If that does not incentivise you to upgrade, then nothing will.

Windows 11 Minimum Requirements

The minimum requirements to install Windows 11 are as follows:

  • Processor 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
  • RAM 4 gigabyte (GB)
  • Storage 64 GB or larger storage device
  • System firmware UEFI, Secure Boot
  • TPM Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
  • Graphics card compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
  • HD (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per colour channel

Which Edition of Windows 11?

Windows 11 comes in two main editions:

  • Windows 11 Home
  • Windows 11 Professional

If you currently have Windows 10 Home, then you can upgrade for free to Windows 11 Home. If you have Windows 10 Professional, then you can upgrade for free to Windows 11 Professional.

If you want Windows 11 Professional and you are on Windows 10 Home, or another operating system, then you will need to buy a licence for Windows 11 Professional. Once again, Microsoft give you a 30-day grace period to activate your operating system, so you can try before you buy.

Let's Do It—I Want to Upgrade

Before we begin, let me say that this method is not guaranteed to work for everyone. Let me also remind you that even if it does work, it might not stay working, as Microsoft may stop providing updates or withdraw support completely.

Finally, my last warning, attempting this upgrade may cause you to lose data, so only proceed if you understand that.

I have used this method to upgrade my old computers to Windows 11. This includes this 12-year-old desktop computer and an a slightly younger Windows 7 laptop, both of which are working happily with Windows 11.

Method

The way that this upgrade works is to create a Windows 10—yes, that is right, a Windows 10 bootable USB drive—and to edit it to install Windows 11 instead. The way this works is that the Windows 10 installer actually checks your hardware first and determines that it is suitable for Windows 10, but it then proceeds to install Windows 11. This method will upgrade your current Windows version, but you will not be able to create a dual-boot system.

Please follow all the steps as shown below:

1. Download Windows 10 from Microsoft

You will first need to go to the Microsoft site and download the "Media Creation Tool".

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

Save the download and run it.

You will need to read and accept Microsoft's terms to continue, after which you will see a message saying, "What do you want to do?". At this menu, click on "Create installation media" and then click on "Next".

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

At the next screen, leave all the settings as they are and then click "Next".

Then at the following screen, click on "ISO file" and then "Next".

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

You will now be asked where you want to save the ISO file. Choose a location and then click "Save".

Now go and have a break while Windows 10 is downloaded. It could be a while depending on the time of day and the speed of your Internet connection.

Now that Windows 10 has been downloaded, click on "Finish" and then move onto step 2.

2. Create Windows 10 Bootable USB

Now Windows has been downloaded, we need to create the Windows 10 bootable USB drive. You will need to download the free Rufus Utility. I used "Rufus 3.21 Portable" for this.

Rufus Utility

Rufus Utility

Once Rufus is running, insert a USB drive that is 8GB or greater. The data on the USB drive will get wiped as part of the process, so make sure that you do not need it.

Under "Device" in the Rufus utility, select the USB drive that you just inserted.

Select your USB Drive

Select your USB Drive

Now click on "Select" and navigate to the downloaded Windows 10 ISO file, then press "Open".

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

Choose "NTFS" from the "File System" drop-down menu.

Now you are ready to start creating the Windows USB. Check all the settings on your Rufus match up with those shown below and then click on "Start":

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

Another windows screen pops up and asks if you want to customise the installation. Leave the boxes unchecked, then click "OK".

You will get a warning telling you the data on the USB stick will be wiped. Click on "OK" when you are sure there is no data that you need to retain on the USB.

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer
how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

Time for another break, as the next stage will take a while.

3. Download Windows 11

You will first need to go to the Microsoft site and download the "Media Creation Tool".

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

Save the download and run it.

You will need to read and accept Microsoft's terms to continue.

Then leave the default settings and then press "Next".

Select "ISO file" and then click "Next".

Select a location to save the ISO and click "Save".

Now you will have to wait again for the download. Nearly there now.

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

When the download is complete, click on "Finish" and the setup program will clean up and close.

4. Mount the ISO

In order to move the Windows 11 payload onto the USB drive, we need to first mount the recently downloaded ISO. If you are running a later version of Windows, such as Windows 8 or 10, then you can do this by right clicking on the ISO file as below:

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

If you are running an older version of Windows then you will need to either burn the ISO to a DVD or use third-party software to mount it. An example of such third-party software is WinCDEmu. Once you have done this, move onto step 5.

5. Navigate to the Windows 11 Payload on the ISO

Open up File Explorer and navigate to the ISO drive that you have just mounted. In it you will see the following folders and files:

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

Go into the "Sources" folder and find the file "install.esd":

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

The file you have found now needs to be copied and saved onto the Windows 10 Installer on the USB drive.

So highlight "install.esd" and press "CTRL"+"C" together to copy the file.

6. Navigate to the Windows 10 Installer on the USB Drive

Open up File Explorer and go to the USB Drive where you have installed Windows 10. You will see something like this:

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

Navigate to \x64\sources and find the file "install.esd" on your USB drive.

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

Delete the file that you have just navigated to on the USB drive called "install.esd".

Then paste the file that you copied from the mounted ISO, by pressing "Ctrl"+"V" together.

This will take a few moments to copy, as it is such a large file.

7. Time to Install Windows 11

It is now the moment of truth. You can try to install WIndows 11.

First navigate back to the root folder of the USB Drive. Here you will find a file called "Setup". Double click Setup to start the installer.

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

Once the installer starts, you will notice that it says "Install Windows 10". Do not panic—you are not installing Windows 10. You are installing Windows 11 using the Windows 10 installer.

Now click on the option that says "Change how Windows Setup downloads updates":

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

On this page, you are being asked whether you want to download updates or not. It is important that you do not allow updates at this stage. Once Windows has installed, you can download all the updates that you need.

So click on "Not at the moment" and then click "Next".

how-to-install-windows-11-on-an-unsupported-computer

Read and accept the terms if you want to proceed with the installation. Then you can follow the remaining questions about what files you want to keep, etc. Windows will take a couple of hours to install.

And you are done!

Please do let me know how you got on.

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