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Issue #795: October 16-22, 2022

Q: First, many thanks for all of your great support to us over the many years. 

I have a relatively new computer (Dell Optiplex 3050 bought in 2018) that is not compatible with the new Windows 11. It seems that Microsoft is getting very particular with what can run Windows 11.

I am not interested in purchasing a new computer so soon after the last one to just keep up with software. (I guess from what I read that patches will keep this software safe through 2025.)

Can an older machine be made compatible? If so how do I go about learning what is required? My favorite local repair shop has gone out of business or I would be asking them this question.

I very much appreciate your assistance over the years.

– George C.
Shalimar, Florida

A: Well, let me respond in-kind, by first saying many you’re welcomes for being such a loyal reader, and for writing-in so often to provide the fuel that powers the column: reader questions.  You’re certainly in the top-10 all-time contributors to the question queue, George.  Hmmm…  I’m not sure if I’m giving you kudos for all the content or inadvertently insulting your lack of tech knowledge.  I’m sure I meant the one that doesn’t involve insulting you!  So, thanks again!

A computer’s age is one of those nebulous concepts that is truly hard to gauge.  In practice, a computer becomes “too old” when it is no longer able to perform the functions for which it was purchased without being irritatingly slow to its user.  For most home users that includes running software to track personal finances, read and write documents, surf the Internet, and often play games, which have a tremendous variety of speed needs, depending on the game.  Up until now, it has always been the decision of the computer’s owner whether the computer needs to be treated like an old horse, and put out to pasture, or if it has enough pep left to keep up to the daily grind.

Then, along came Microsoft, and for the first time in all of the releases of Windows to-date, they imposed a restrictive list of capabilities that computers must meet in order to run the upcoming new release – Windows 11.  There was an immediate outcry from the rather large base of computer users who, like you, were being told their computer was just not good enough to run Windows 11.  Microsoft acquiesced on some of the requirements, but many remain.  However, there are ways for smart, geeky people to get around them, as I’ll discuss below.

Before I do that, I want to discuss “age” for a moment.  Despite what I said above, your computer, sold in 2018, probably designed in 2017, might seem “relatively new” to you, but is in reality, somewhat geriatric as far as computers are concerned.  A computer purchased today will almost certainly have much faster hardware across the board: CPU, memory, hard drive, etc.  Further, it will likely be equipped with all the newest hardware, such as the TPU module that is the stumbling block for most older computers passing the “Windows 11 Challenge”. 

The question then becomes whether you, as the computer’s user are willing to accept the status quo.  You can, of course, keep using Windows 10.  As you pointed out, Win 10 is not going to be put to bed until 2025.  By then your computer will be over 8 years old, and who knows what kind of performance problems it will be having then?  Perhaps the thought of buying a new PC will look more attractive to you a few years in the future.

Another option is to do a brute force install of Windows 11 onto your supposedly incompatible hardware.  I discussed this in some detail back in August (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. Issue # 785, August 7, 2022). If you missed that issue, hit the archives on my website and check it out.

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