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Why Windows 11 won't run on your new $5,000 Surface PC, but a Mac from 2013 can run the next-gen MacOS

There's no incentive for Microsoft to support your old PC -- even if it's new! -- while Apple is monetizing a growing ecosystem.

There seems to be a lot of confusion over whether a PC running Windows 10 can run Windows 11.

My esteemed ZDNet colleague, Ed Bott, has done an admirable job of trying to cut through the confusion, but right now, the future is clouded in uncertainty. Even Microsoft's hinting at expanding the range of hardware that can run Windows 11 does little more than create more uncertainty and doubt for existing Windows 10 users.

Vague issues over TPM support and CPU "hard floors" and "soft floors" abound.

Adding further to the mess is that you could go out today and drop almost $5,000 on a brand-new Surface Studio 2 and find that you're stuck on Windows 10 until that ride comes to an end.

That's harsh.

Imagine the outcry if a newly minted -- and newly paid-for -- Mac or iPhone hit the upgrade train buffers after only a few weeks?

Speaking of Apple…

Must read: Apple will finally give iPhone and iPad users an important choice to make

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Let's compare this situation with Microsoft and Windows to Apple and MacOS.

The next-generation MacOS -- MacOS Monterey -- was unveiled at the WWDC 2021 keynote last month, and this new operating system supports a huge and diverse range of Macs, going all the way back to 2013.

Sure, there's bad news for some Mac owners, but if you have a mac bought around 2015 or 2016, your chances of being supported are good.

On top of that, Apple is clear about what hardware is and isn't supported.

Sure, Apple has tight control over that ecosystem, but the same can be said for Microsoft and the Surface platform.

So, what's going on here?

There's a crucial difference between the way Microsoft and Apple work.

For Microsoft, there's no incentive to get your Windows 10 PC running Windows 11.

It's free work.

Microsoft only sees the dollars come in when you buy a new PC.

So, it's worse than free work; it's work that actively harms Microsoft's bottom line.

Sure, Microsoft could try to sell people an upgrade, but those days are pretty much over.

As for Apple, that company has been busy monetizing the ecosystem. Every time you buy an app, a movie or music, or pay for iCloud, Apple is making money.

Shrinking the ecosystem shrinks that ecosystem.

Last quarter alone, Apple pulled in a hefty $16.9 billion from services alone. That's what a large and carefully managed ecosystem can do. 

And that's a good reason to keep the ecosystem as big as possible.

The whole Windows 11 mess might sort itself out over the coming months, but this amount of confusion so early on won't instill confidence in those who have invested in Windows hardware.

It seems like a bad time to buy a PC.

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