Windows 11 was released today, 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.

Information Systems & Computing (ISC) supports Windows 11 on new systems that ship with it pre-installed. ISC strongly recommends that all other University users considering an upgrade to Windows 11 adopt a “wait and see” approach, continuing to use currently supported versions of Windows 10 for at least two weeks and perhaps longer until the initial bugs and compatibility issues in Windows 11 are identified and fixed. ISC will send an update on Windows 11’s status at the University on October 19th.

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 will have some product lines with Windows 11 pre-installed available shortly, though other product lines will not be available with Windows 11 for at least a few months. For the rest of 2021, 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 (including some within a standard University life cycle) 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 of the major drivers for the renumbering of Windows from 10 to 11 was likely these new hardware requirements.

Windows 11 functions as expected with many Penn applications and services, including AirPennNet, BigFix, 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 Edge is now the integrated web browser). 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.