Windows 11 News (Sept. 2021)

Windows[German]It’s not even a month until Microsoft will release its Windows 11 to users on October 5, 2021 (Windows 11: Rollout is the starting October 5, 2021). The days have accumulated some news that I would like to briefly summarize in a blog post. For example, Microsoft is trying to make Windows 11 palatable to people with “this thing runs faster”, despite the hefty hardware requirements. And it has become clear why older CPUs are not supported. Here’s an overview of what I’ve come across.


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Windows 11 feature updates always in autumn

Microsoftas announced that it wants to switch to annual feature updates for Windows 11 (see Yes, Microsoft introduced Windows 11). After initial release in October 2021, the next version will be released in September or October 2022. Sticking with the previous nomenclature, this would be 22H2, 23H2 and so on. The colleagues from German site deskmodder.de have some thoughts about this cycle in this article.

No support for Apple M1

Testers at The Register had noticed that a Windows 11 virtual machine running a build from the Dev Channel on an M1 Mac with Parallels Desktop 17 was throwing a hardware compatibility error. When The Register checked with Microsoft, Redmond confirmed that Windows 11 on Apple’s M1 is not a “supported scenario” for the OS.  Parallels, however, has since released version 17.0.1 of its virtualization software. This seems to fix the problem (at least for now) and allows Windows 11 to run on Apple’s M1 systems. The details can be read here.

MBEC support in CPU requirement

In its hardware requirements, Microsoft has made it clear that only newer CPUs are officially supported by Windows 11 (see Windows 11: Hardware requirements and Windows 11: Microsoft specifies hardware requirements, no blocking on incompatible devices). On reddit.com, there is this thread that points out that a CPU-supported Mode Based Execution Control (MBEC) is the reason why Microsoft only supports newer CPUs in Windows 11. One of the statements:

Windows 11 requires virtualization-based security (VBS) and hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI). These features require the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) and Mode Based Execution Control (MBEC), see also this MS documentation.

MBEC can be emulated by the “Restricted User Mode”, but is slower than a native hardware implementation. The first CPUs with a native implementation were the 7th generation CPUs (Kaby Lake) and AMD Zen 2, so Microsoft has focused on supporting only these CPUs and higher.

The colleagues from German deskmodder.de took up the topic in this article and explained that the MBEC counterpart at AMD is called GMET (AMD Guest-Mode Execute Trap for NPT). This explains why Windows 11 also runs on older CPUs, but is only officially supported on newer CPUs.

Benchmarks on Android and Microsoft’s “performance teaser”.

Windows 11 is not yet on the market and in the past people always insisted on not making performance comparisons with beta code of Microsoft products. But the days Microsoft has published a video in its Microsoft Mechanics series, which also deals with optimization and performance.


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(Source: YouTube)

The message is that Windows 11 feels snappier than Windows 10 due to optimizations. I don’t really believe that Windows 11 will be faster – the hardware requirements don’t come by chance.

I also see the second topic from this point of view. In the medium term, users should be able to run Android apps under Windows 11 – this feature is still missing when it is available on October 5, 2021. Microsoft is developing an Android emulator for Windows 11 with Intel, which will then be made available as a Windows subsystem for Android. Now there are first benchmarks (see this MSPU article), which indicate that the whole thing runs reasonably snappy. For me, this is all still too early, when Windows 11 is available, we’ll see.

I’ll add it briefly – because the topic has been bubbling around here for months. The developers’ approach to modernize the user interface with new icons and designs inevitably leads to collateral damage. I had already noticed it in Windows Insiders in the spring that Windows Explorer was pretty messed up with the new design. Martin Brinkmann happened to bring it up recently in the blog post Windows 11’s File Explorer has serious usability issues on ghacks.net.

Windows 11 and sustainability

The new hardware requirements that Microsoft has set up for Windows 11 are an economic stimulus package for hardware manufacturers and are also supposed for Redmond. However, this will render millions of devices worldwide by 2025 as electronic waste, when Windows 10 will be withdrawn from support, because they will no longer support Windows 11. I think this does not fit Microsoft’s claim to be CO2 neutral by 2030 as an eco-label. And the hardware requirements of Windows 11 are the wrong signal from this view.

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3 Responses to Windows 11 News (Sept. 2021)

    • guenni says:

      I noticed that – we have had weekend – and the scope for Win 11 is pretty low here. Microsoft have lost the plot – imho.

  1. EP says:

    also saw this recent article from Neowin – You can still complete Windows 11 Home setup without internet:

    https://www.neowin.net/news/you-can-still-complete-windows-11-home-setup-without-internet/

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