Microsoft lets you run Windows 11 on unsupported hardware, but if you do, be prepared to be reminded about it. A recent Windows Insider preview marked as a release candidate adds a watermark to the desktop, warning you that you’re using unsupported hardware along with a matching note in the main window of the Settings app, as spotted by Windows Latest.
Microsoft drastically altered the hardware requirements for Windows 11—requiring users to have an ultra-modern CPU, a Trusted Protection Module, and more—and announced the changes in a disastrous fashion. Things got so confusing that we eventually penned an article titled “The Windows 11 hardware fiasco keeps getting worse” in exasperation. Fortunately, Microsoft relented and eventually let users install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware (though some limitations remained in place).
It’s clear that’s not what Microsoft wants, though. Shortly after introducing the workaround, the company warned that Windows 11 PCs on unsupported hardware might not receive updates, including security patches—a mighty big gotcha, though things have been going hunky-dory so far. The company also booted users running unsupported hardware out of the Windows Insider preview program (which makes sense, to be fair).
This latest move continues to apply pressure to upgrade to newer PCs with more modern security features, which is clearly a goal for Microsoft. If your Windows 11 PC isn’t up to official snuff, you’ll see a watermark in the lower-right corner of your screen stating “System requirements not met. Go to settings to learn more.” It’s similar (though less in-your-face) to the watermark you’ll see when you’re running Windows without properly activating it first.
In the past, running unactivated versions of Windows resulted in feature restrictions such as being unable to personalize your system or wallpaper. Microsoft doesn’t appear to be introducing similarly heavy-handed measures alongside this Windows 11 watermark—a good thing, as users who took advantage of Microsoft’s workaround to get the new OS on old hardware still paid for their copy of Windows.
Bottom line? The new watermark might annoy you, but it’s nothing to fear…yet. That said, if you’re running Windows 11 on unsupported hardware, you’re doing so at your own risk and everything may break eventually. Rather than rolling the dice, consider sticking with Windows 10 for now instead. It still works great with support planned through 2025 and you shouldn’t upgrade to Windows 11 yet anyway.