There was a time when a new version of Windows was very important, like the launch of Windows 95 for which the tones of the Rolling Stones start Me Up could be heard in all kinds of media. Over the years that excitement died down, ultimately leaving us with Windows 10 which we were told would be the last version of the popular operating system and therefore only receive continuous updates.
But here we are in 2021, and a new Windows has been announced. Windows 11 will be Redmond’s newest and biggest, but with all the hype, there has been an underlying stream of concern. Each new operating system comes with a list of hardware requirements, but those for Windows 11 seem to go beyond the usual in their quest to eliminate older hardware. As well as requiring a secure boot and a trusted platform module that caused devices to run, they removed a load of surprisingly newer processors, including those on some of their current Surface mobile PCs, from their supported list, and it’s reported that they’re even going to require laptops to have front-facing webcams if they want to run Windows 11.
Out with the old and with the new
It makes perfect sense for a new operating system to lose support for legacy hardware, after all, there is no point in providing owners with crispy old Pentiums or the like. System requirements dropping support for 32-bit cores, for example, reflect Windows 95 dropping 286 and earlier chips that ran the previous version, Windows 3.1. But in this case, it looks like they’ve wielded the ax a bit too liberally, as many owners of not too old and certainly still quite fast gear will be left behind.
In the past, there had been accusations of a Microsoft / Intel duopoly idea that revolved around the chipmaker and OS vendor conspiring to advance each other’s products, and some reviewers have relaunched it for this launch. A comparison between the 1990s and the present is not easy to make, however, as the difference between the capabilities of a 1990 386 desktop computer and a 1999 Pentium 3 through a decade in which the Moore’s Law was at its peak is so much more than for example between the first Intel i7 and the last. Is it just Microsoft’s attempt to break away from the need for such backward compatibility that Windows is mired in and define a new PC for the 2020s? It will be interesting to see when the operating system finally lands whether or not it will run on some of the lesser machines, simply without official support.
New operating system shouldn’t cause e-waste crisis
Moving on from applying a commentator’s magnifying glass to the new Windows, it’s worth taking a closer look at the effect it will have on the PCs it leaves behind. If that many slightly older machines won’t be able to upgrade from Windows 10, it’s likely that a significant number will be rejected even though Windows 10 will continue to be supported until 2025, which does matter. given the scale of the Windows user base, could represent a significant impact on electronic waste. And for many users, buying a new computer with the latest operating system installed is more acceptable than the idea of ââperforming their own system upgrade, even though the hardware is still well supported in 11.
It is likely that a higher than average number of Hackaday readers are already users of alternative operating systems such as GNU / Linux, but expecting an ordinary Windows user to install a Linux distribution on their machine is a chimera. Perhaps the real impact of the launch of Windows 11 will be a large and slowly declining Windows 10 population and a new mountain forming in e-waste destruction centers in developing countries that can least afford to cope. to the consequences. I think a new operating system should have a better legacy than that.