How to bypass Windows 11 limits and install on almost any old PC

Kids, don't try this at home!
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

I shouldn't need to tell you this, but just in case you were the kid who used to run with scissors, I will: this could hurt. What I'm about to tell you could cause crashes. Drivers and various system functions might hang. Your computer might melt into a pile of slag that gets tangled in your carpet and is almost impossible to clean. You might even knock the moon out of orbit. Baaaaad things could happen.

We are entering unsanctioned territory here.

Also: Microsoft delivers PrintNightmare patch for more Windows versions

Okay, for the benefit of the two of you who haven't been reading all of Ed Bott's reporting on Windows 11, as it's intended to ship from the factory, Windows 11 will only support certain PCs. It will only support 64-bit machines with TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot.

As we've been discussing, even some of Microsoft's own Surface machines won't run Windows 11. Or, at least, they can't run it unless you do a little tinkering.

Did I mention baaaaad things could happen? Okay, good. Keep that in mind as we move into the process.

First, there is one limitation we can't bypass: if you don't have a 64-bit processor, give it up. You'll need a machine with a 64-bit processor. But if you've got that, you're ready to alter the space/time continuum.

As it turns out, Microsoft isn't as tied to the idea of requiring a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) as they've led us all to believe. Deep inside their June 2021 Windows 11 Minimum Hardware Requirements PDF is the sentence, "Upon approval from Microsoft, OEM systems for special purpose commercial systems, custom order, and customer systems with a custom image are not required to ship with a TPM support enabled."

The hacks

Lawrence Abrams at Bleeping Computer has taken advantage of this detail. In his article, he shows how creating a new LabConfig key and setting DWORD values BypassTPMCheck, BypassRAMCheck, and BypassSecureBootCheck to 1 can enable you to bypass the compatibility check.

If that doesn't work for you, Zachary Wander at Android site XDA has four more approaches he describes in depth. His first approach is to manually (and by manually, he's hacking registry keys, 'natch) enroll in the Dev Channel. That, in theory, should allow you to install Windows 11 on unsupported machines.

If that doesn't work, he has more tricks up his sleeve. The next approach is also about enrolling in the Dev Channel, but instead of a registry hack, you need to run a Github script (because that's not at all scary).

His third approach is to build a hybrid USB installer. You'll be downloading ISOs, burning images to thumb drives, hacking registry entries, and more. If Windows 11 installs this way, you've earned it.

And, finally, he has a hack where you go inside the Windows 11 ISO file and remove a compatibility check file.

Final thoughts

So. Yeah. That. Another thing that goes without saying is that if you can get this to work with the current test build of Windows 11, it might not work when the actual release of Windows 11 is shipped. It might not even work when the next test build of Windows 11 is pushed out. But if you're impatient, and want to get Windows 11 running on an unsanctioned device, go for it.

Just don't come crying to us when you're blamed for destroying the moon because you had to try Windows 11 on your very own unsanctioned computer.

So, what do you think about this? Are you going to try it? Did you recently buy a Windows machine that now can't run Windows 11? Do you feel abandoned? Do you think the next best thing is Linux and think we were all sheep to be running Windows in the first place? Are you going to jump to a Mac? Or is it time to pull out the screwdriver, open up your tower, and replace components? Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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