Windows 11 reaches important milestone, but hard decisions have yet to be made on hardware support

Now is the best time to get on the Windows 11 test program if you're brave

Windows 11 browsing
(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft has given Windows a beta release, as we inch closer to the new operating system being launched. Moving to the beta channel means that Microsoft is now ready for more people to test the OS, and is an indication that we’re getting close to the operating system being ready for the mass market. That said, it’s likely some big changes will still find their way into Windows 11. 

For one thing, the final set of hardware hasn’t yet been defined. Currently Microsoft is working out if AMD’s first generation Ryzen CPUs and Intel’s 7th generation processors will be able to run the operating system. This is fairly major news, and is another part of the big problem Microsoft is facing with this release. It’s the most restricted and least backwards compatible version of Windows yet, cutting off far newer platforms than Microsoft has done previously.

This, combined with the other problems around customers' confusion about what hardware or configuration changes they might need to make, could blow up for the company. While Microsoft’s aims are laudable, as they will create a more secure environment for users, it’s also going to create a lot of frustration with customers who will be told they can’t install Windows 11 because they don’t have a Trusted Platform Module installed. 

The move from the dev channel to the beta channel will offer users a lot more stability. The company says that for most people in the dev channel, now is probably a good time to transition to the beta channel. You’ll see less frequent updates, but things will also break less. The beta channel is far closer to how the final version of Windows 11 will look. 

For anyone who just can’t wait any longer, now is probably a good time to take a look at the new version of the OS. Make sure you’ve tested compatibility first and that you have a complete backup of your existing system, because it almost certainly will remove or lose data. 

Ian has been involved in technology journalism since 2007, originally writing about AV hardware back when LCDs and plasma TVs were just gaining popularity. Nearly 15 years on, he remains as excited about how tech can make your life better.