Windows 11 was released on October 5, 2021. This latest version of Windows includes a modernized user interface, widened application availability in the Microsoft Store, and improved support for the few ARM-based Windows systems available. Windows 11 is a no-cost upgrade for current licensed users of Windows 10.

At the time of release, Information Systems & Computing (ISC) suggested that all University users considering the Windows 11 upgrade adopt a “wait and see” approach and continue to use supported versions of Windows 10. This wait allowed for initial bugs and compatibility issues with Windows 11 to be identified and either fixed or avoided.

Windows 11 is now cleared for general use by Penn constituents. ISC recommends that those with niche needs of untested apps or features continue to exercise caution in updating their Windows devices. In particular, users of high-end audio, video, and 3D applications should verify compatibility with their application vendors before upgrading.

Microsoft is rolling out Windows 11 using a phased approach, with many “eligible” systems not expected to receive it until 2022. Hardware vendors such as Dell, Lenovo, and Microsoft themselves have some product lines with Windows 11 pre-installed available, though other product lines won’t be available with Windows 11 for at least a few months. For the next few months, whether or not a particular new system can be ordered with Windows 11 will often depend on driver support.

The “eligible systems” phrase hints at one of the significant challenges with upgrading to Windows 11: Microsoft has sharply tightened the hardware requirements to install Windows 11 versus what they deemed acceptable for Windows 10. These requirements leave many relatively modern desktops and notebooks unable to install the upgrade in a supported fashion. Microsoft’s PC Health Check app tests systems to see whether they are considered eligible. One major motivation for the Windows version renumbering from 10 to 11 was likely these new hardware requirements.

Windows 11 functions as expected with many Penn applications and services, including AirPennNet, BigFix, CrowdStrike, GlobalConnect, Penn+Box, PennO365 (including Teams), Symantec Endpoint Protection, and Zoom. For more detailed information regarding Window 11’s compatibility at Penn, please see the University’s supported products page.

With Windows 11, Microsoft is moving from the two major updates per year seen in Windows 10 to one major yearly update, likely in the fall. The new operating system is also the first Microsoft operating system in about 25 years to ship without some version of Internet Explorer. Microsoft currently plans to stop supporting Windows 10 in 2025—Penn has not yet decided on its support windows for either Windows 10 or Windows 11.

Thanks to JM Conway, Matt Frew, Luke Hagendorf, Ian Kelley, Jason Watkins, and Vern Yoneyama for their assistance with this evaluation.