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Issue #833: July 9-15, 2023

Q: Why is it so hard to upgrade my Gigabyte based system to Win11? I like to think I’m fairly competent with computers. I started using Windows when it was 3.1 and I’ve seen some things along the way but this is ridiculous. I’ve run through the “process” many times. I cannot get the change from CSM to Secure Boot to stick to save my life. Bios is up to date but the instructions from Gigabyte are minimal at best.

– David Q.
Elk Grove, California

A: Ah, Windows 11.  Microsoft’s great panacea that was supposed to bring an end to all compatibility problems and run problem-free for everybody.  Yeah, right!  Thanks, Bill! 

Before Windows 11 was ever released, from the time when Microsoft first began to issue press releases telling the world what was coming, there was mass confusion over the precise minimum specifications for a computer to be able to run Windows 11.  The first list of requirements that came out was shocking to most people, because it looked like almost no system more than a year or so old or so would work.  So, it appeared that, for most people, if they wanted to run Windows 11, they were going to have to purchase a brand-new computer.  Eventually, Microsoft clarified the supposed “requirements” to indicate which of them were actual necessities, and which were things that were “strongly recommended.”  Frankly, that served only to thicken the fog, rather than clear it up.

Before I proceed, and in the interest of clearing things up, let’s make sure everybody understands the terminology in David’s inquiry.  First of all, in case you were confused, “Gigabyte” is the name of the manufacturer of David’s computer, not the size of his hard drive, or an amount of memory. Next, a computer’s BIOS, or Basic Input/Output System is the chipset that contains, among other things, the tiny program that tells the computer how to boot itself up after being powered on.  David’s Gigabyte PC is currently equipped with a CSM, or Compatibility Support Module type of BIOS, which is the typical kind that’s been around for many years.  Despite the name, CSM BIOS can run into compatibility problems with newer hardware and even software.  That’s one reason that the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, or UEFI was created.  By the way, there is no consensus on the pronunciation of that acronym, but a couple of the most popular choices include “weffy” and “yoo-eff-eye” (like the word unify, without the n).  UEFI is especially designed to work with newer hardware and software. It is the recommended setting for most users although it’s important to know that not all computers support UEFI, and some that do don’t have it enabled by default.  To fully extend this definition to the terms David used in his submission, Secure Boot is a security feature found only in UEFI BIOS.  It takes advantage of digital signatures to validate the authenticity and integrity of the code that it loads.  In other words, it makes sure the Windows that it’s booting is genuine, and not some sort of malware.

So, David, can I presume that the reason you want to implement Secure Boot on your PC is because you believe it is necessary in order to install Windows 11?  I’m happy to say that’s not the case.  Take a moment to read the article at for example.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  UEFI is a far superior BIOS strain, and features like Secure Boot are well worth the time and effort to get it running.  But that wasn’t your question.  In the strictest sense of the word, Secure Boot is not “required” to update your PC to Windows 11.  So, if that’s your goal, maybe get the upgrade done, and revisit getting Secure Boot running later.  Sounds like that might just save you a little sanity in the short term.

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