Install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware

Windows 11 has been released and comes with some new hardware requirements like the need for TPM 2.0 and secure boot. Also, some older processors are no longer supported even though they should be perfectly capable of running the OS. In case your system does not meet one of these requirements, you will not be able to install Windows 11 in a supported way. As I worked on overcoming these requirements for installation of Windows 11 on Mac, with success. I figured the same method would just work fine on a PC as well. And it did! This post covers how to work around the hardware requirements check and install Windows 11 on a system that does not meet these requirements.

YouTube Video

If you are interested, I also created a YouTube video from this blogpost. If you prefer classic text, you can just follow the rest of this article:

Upgrade instead of a fresh install

In case you are interested in upgrading from Windows 10 rather than performing a fresh install, you can have a look at this video instead:

Introduction

Although I do understand the reason for some of these new hardware requirements, I feel that some of them should’ve been something configurable or optional. Especially if you have a bit of an older but high-end system, it feels bad that you will run behind just because of these requirements. And although Windows 10 is not end of life yet, you will probably run into compatibility issues in the near future anyway.

As mentioned above, I figured out this method by some experience I have with creating bootable Windows 10 USB installation media on macOS. A few days back I found out this can be used to get around the hardware check of the installation. Hence I also gave this a try on a regular PC, with success.

The PC I used for this post is a Lenovo S20 with a Xeon X5650 CPU. The CPU is officially not supported, the machine does not have TPM 2.0 and does not support secure boot:

Using the PC Health Check tool, I could see the following:

The approach will be to use a Windows 10 installer USB, created with the Media Creation Tool and combine that with the Windows 11 installation files. That way the additional hardware checks are not done and Windows 11 can be installed without further issues. Once installed, you don’t notice anything of using this method to install everything.

Creating the bootable Windows 11 USB installer

Downloading the required files

First thing we need is the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. This can be downloaded from the following location: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

Next, we also need the ISO of Windows 11. That one can be downloaded over here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows11

Run the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

Once we have these two files, we can insert the USB drive which we will use. It has to be at least 8 GB in size. Then start the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.

After the initial “Getting a few things ready” wait and accepting the license, choose “Create installation media” and click Next:

In the next screen, select the language of choice and continue with Next again:

Finally, select the USB drive which you inserted and start the process by clicking Next:

After some time and the tool has downloaded all files and copied them to your USB drive, you should see the following:

Copy the Windows 11 files to the USB drive

At this point we have a regular Windows 10 installation USB drive. On the drive, the actual Windows 10 is contained in the file \sources\install.esd:

If we mount the Windows 11 ISO by double-clicking on it in explorer, we can see that here we have \sources\install.wim. This is the file that we will use to replace \sources\install.esd on the USB drive:

First, navigate to your USB drive and delete the \sources\install.esd file:

Then we need to replace it with install.wim from the Windows 11 ISO. One issue here is that the file is over 4 GB in size and the Media Creation Tool formatted the USB drive with FAT32. FAT32 supports only files up to 4 GB so we will need to split that file in two parts.

In order to do so, I will use Wimlib. This is a utility designed exactly with that purpose (work with .wim files). You can download the latest version from https://wimlib.net/:

Extract the contents of the downloaded file and open a command prompt. Take note of the drives letters for both the USB drive (D: in my case) and the mounted ISO (G: in my case):

Then navigate to the downloaded Wimlib folder and execute the following:

Microsoft Windows [Version 10.0.19043.1237]
(c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
C:\Users\jensd>cd Downloads\wimlib-1.13.4-windows-x86_64-bin

C:\Users\jensd\Downloads\wimlib-1.13.4-windows-x86_64-bin>wimlib-imagex.exe split g:\sources\install.wim d:\sources\install.swm 4000
Splitting WIM: 4526 MiB of 4526 MiB (100%) written, part 2 of 2
Finished splitting "g:\sources\install.wim" 

C:\Users\jensd\Downloads\wimlib-1.13.4-windows-x86_64-bin>

The command I executed is wimlib-imagex.exe with the following arguments:

  • “split” as we want to split a larger .wim file in smaller parts
  • “g:\sources\install.wim” the source file on the mounted Windows 11 ISO
  • “d:\sources\install.swm” the output where the splitted files should go on the USB drive
  • “4000” the max. size in MB of each part

As a result of running that command, our USB drive now has two files in the sources folder:

The Windows 10 installer knows what to do with these, even if they are actually for Windows 11.

At this point, our USB drive is ready and we can use it to install Windows 11 on the incompatible PC I have.

Use the USB drive to install Windows 11

Now that we have the Frankenstein-like Windows 11 installation USB drive, we can use it to install the OS on devices that would not pass the hardware check.

Upgrade your existing Windows 10 installation

This post is focused on doing a fresh install (see further). Just as a side note as it looks like many people have this question, it is possible to use the USB drive to perform an upgrade. You can run setup.exe from the USB drive (after going through all the steps above) instead of booting from it.
This will allow you to do an upgrade. Just make sure you are not installing updates in this process (it’s an option).
It will show Windows 10 everywhere but if you did this right, you will end up with Windows 11.

In case you’re experiencing issues with Windows Security/Defender after doing an upgrade, I wrote an article on that as well. You can find it here: https://jensd.be/1507/windows/fix-issue-with-empty-windows-security-app-after-upgrade-to-windows-11

Fresh install

In order to do the install, change your BIOS settings or press the key (F10 or F12 typically) to choose a temporary boot device and boot from the USB drive:

Initially, the look and feel of the installer will be exactly as from Windows 10. This is expected as we are running exactly that version of the installer. First select the language, region and keyboard of choice, click “Next”, then “Install Now”:

In the next screen choose “I do not have a product key” and as soon as you arrive at the screen where you need to select which version to use, we can see the Windows 11 versions instead:

Here, select the version of choice and click “Next”. In the next screen, choose to accept the license and continue. Then choose for a custom install (Windows only (advanced)). In the next screen, you need to select where to install Windows 11:

This is no different from a Windows 10 installation, just pick the drive or partition where you want to install Windows 11 and click Next. After that, the installation will take place and after some time and a few reboots, you should be presented with the following dialog:

Here you need to answer some basic questions like your location, keyboard layout, network, username, password and some more questions regarding location and diagnostic info.

After going through all of these, and also letting the updates to be installed, and waiting a bit more, you should end up with the Windows 11 desktop on your incompatible PC:

As you can see in the above screenshot, this runs just fine on the incompatible hardware like the Xeon X5650 I have here.

Updates seem to work fine as well:

Hope this helps you in getting Windows 11 installed even if it is officially not supported…

Performance on unsupported hardware

In case you’re interested how the performance will be on unsupported hardware, I did a video on that as well. So feel free to have a look if you’re interested:

58 thoughts on “Install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware

    • If you have an activate version and/or a key in the BIOS, it will select the version matching that key.

  1. Hey, great work. Does this work for upgrading an existing Windows 10 system or new install only?

    • You can run setup.exe from the USB drive (after going through all the steps) instead of booting from it.
      This will allow you to do an upgrade. Just make sure you are not installing updates in this process (it’s an option).
      It will show Windows 10 everywhere but if you did this right, you will end up with Windows 11.
      Updated the article to have this info in it as well. Good luck with the upgrade.

      • i need your help i have followed every step and when i go to boot its not getting detecting windows11 it coming up with a list of windows 10 os

      • My USB was created on a 10 Home edition machine. Can I select 11 pro or am I restricted to Home ?

        • Create/edit sources\ei.cfg with:
          ————————————
          [Channel]
          Retail
          ————————————

        • Doesn’t really matter on version you created it but if you want to use the license key on the same machine, the version has to match. If it is for another PC, it has to match that one instead.

          • Thanks. I noted the 11 media installer version has an install.esd that is about 3.5gb and doesn’t require splitting. Perhaps drop that into the 1 USB sources folder instead of splitting the larger one ?

  2. What if I’m replacing the ESD file with win file and it succeeds do I still need to split the files?

    • You can replace install.esd or install.wim with the same from Windows 11. If it fits your USB drive is probably formatted different but as long asbit works, you should be good.

    • In case you want to keep everything, you need to upgrade instead. There is a small section about that and also a video included where I do exactly that, step by step.

  3. I don’t see W11 in the list. When I select W10 I get the error: This upgrade path is not supported. Please close Setup and relaunch from the root of the media or go back and pick a different installation choice.

      • My fault. I used the setup in the source map.
        Note: Setup crashed as soon it was checking for updates. When I switched that of everything was ok.
        Thanks.

  4. Followed your steps until CMD, but it always says:
    [ERROR] Can’t open “g:\sources\install.wim” read-only: No such file or directory
    ERROR: Exiting with error code 47:
    Failed to open a file.

    Any fix?

    • Most likely your drive letter is different from g: check in explorer which one matches with the Windows 11 ISO

      • Well the one made by Media Creation Tool is f: but I already tried to change the g: to f: it still doesnt fix it

        • You need the other drive letter, from the mounted ISO. Make sure you double-click the ISO first, so you get a new drive letter in explorer. That’s the one you need to use as. source.

  5. Hi There

    About to try use this method. Thanks so much. Just a quick question. Will this installation keep all of my files? Or will i need to backup and copy everything back onto my laptop.

    • In case you want to keep your data, you can do an upgrade. Check the video that I mentioned at the bottom of the article. Should show you all you need. Always a good idea to take a backup anyway before doing such actions though.

  6. getting erro :: windows could not set the offline locale information : error code : 0*800000001

  7. I tried this method but didn’t work. First time I tried windows 10 source folder had install.wim, replaced it with windows 11 install.swm(splitting). Threw an error. Scond time the windows 10 source folder install.esd. Replaced it with install.wim(splitting). Not sure why it changed from .wim to .esd, will try again. Should the split “install” file be in “.wim” format “.swm” or “.esd”??

  8. The Windows 11 Media Creation Tool creates install.esd at about 3.5GB and would not require splitting. What are your thoughts about deleting that fril from the Windows 10 USB and replacing it with the Windows 11 equivalent ?

    • Replacing install.esd on a Windows 10 USB drive created with the Media Creation Tool with the same file from a USB drive created with the Windows 11 tool. So in short: it should just work. The installer can use install.esd, install.wim or install.swm files.

    • Hi sir, is it possible if i copy windows 10 home and windows 11 at same drive D (windows on C), and use your method and install direct from D?

      • Not sure, in theory that should work, just let your BIOS boot from that drive then to start the installation.

  9. hi, i have one all the steps but when was installing in my macbook pro, it is shwing me to choose language to select, time format etc but I am nit able to choose as mouse pad/arrow is not visible anywhere and looks like stuck , do you have any solution?

  10. Hi jensd

    I completed the steps exactly as your steps but when I tried a fresh install, every time the result was for windows 10??? Wonder why?? Would appreciate some advice. Thanking you!! John E

  11. Since wimlib doesnt work I decided to use FFSJ will this still work and do I just do the same steps as you do when you transfered the splitted file to the USB?

    • Don’t think that will work. As Wimlib does more than just splitting the data in the file. I don’t think a regular split of the files will be recognised by the installer.

      See my reply on your previous post regarding Wimlib. You’re missing a step somewhere I believe.

  12. Hi. Can I use an NTFS USB Drive on Media Creation Tool? You said “the Media Creation Tool formatted the USB drive with FAT32”, but I only have an USB Drive with NTFS only. Thanks for your reply.

    • I believe it will get re-formattes by the tool to FAT32. So no manual action you need to do before.

  13. Pingback: Fix issue with empty Windows Security app after upgrade to Windows 11 | Jensd's I/O buffer

  14. Hi Jens,

    you have a lot of interesting videos on YouTube. I felt like installing Windows 11 using the two ISO files. Everything went according to plan until the very end until it was working on updates. I have followed all the instructions in https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/get-help-with-windows-upgrade-and-installation-errors-ea144c24-513d-a60e-40df-31ff78b3158a and also the links the refer to.

    I have some photos of the installation process you can have. Get them here https://www.dropbox.com/s/ewcongi7az27987/Downloads.zip?dl=0

    Let me know if there’s an easy solution but don’t spend more than 5 minutes.

    Regards

    Jorgen

    • Not much I can say to be honest IRQL not LESS not EQUAL usually has something to do with drivers.
      You could try to run the update while being disconnected from the network/internet and prevent it from downloading (driver) updates.
      Other than that, maybe check event log to see if it gives you a pointer to which device (and driver) caused the BSOD. Not sure if you can see that in your regular event log for a BSOD that happened during upgrade.

      You could also try to do a fresh install if you’re up for it as there won’t be any conflicts with existing drivers in that case.

  15. Hey Mate, ‘sup. I have the ‘Frankenstein’ USB but I have not installed yet. My HDD is partitioned into C: and D: I have Windows 10 on C: Can I install Windows 11 on D:?? In other words can I have both OS(s) on my HDD. I have 3 terabytes to play with.

  16. I converted my flash drive from FAT32 to NTFS and then copied the file. Do you think this will work or must I split the file?

  17. Thanks for your favor, I appreciate that, but I need your help here.
    after writing your code in command prompt, it shows me this message (This app can’t run on your PC)
    To find a version for your PC, check with the software publisher.

    how can I fix this.
    do you have an idea?

    • Most likely you’re running a 32 bit version of Windows currently. Can you try with the 32 bit version of Wimlib instead, that should work.

  18. MSI GV62 i7-7700HQ/8GB/1TB GTX1050 niewspierany procesor i7 7700hq 7th
    tpm 2.0 ok , gpu ok

    MSI GV62 i7-7700HQ/8GB/1TB GTX1050 unsupported cpu i7 7700hq 7th

    How to install Windows 11 Polish version on my msi laptop using windows 10 install

    help me

      • Ok, he will try, but I have a question whether you can install update in Polish language pl

        I’m all compatible besides CPU not

        Will everything work on my laptop for MSI games

        • If you upgrade, the language needs to be the same as the current installed system. If you do a fresh install, it doesn’t matter, you can create the USB drive on whatever language the system had. Only both ISO’s have to be the same language obviously :)

          Good luck with the process!

    • That probably means you have something wrong with the paths and you have the mounted ISO as destination.
      Double-check the command and compare with the article.

  19. Upgrading win10 to win 11 on Mac Pro
    Maybe this has been ask already but after the cmd prompt splits the install.wim file the created swm files now reside in ESD-USB > sources folder but in the accompanied video the swm files are located in ESD-USB > sources > migration > install.swm & install2.swm
    Why am I seeing differently and further the migration folder only has wtr folder and assorted files within it but your example the migration folder has other many folders and files.
    And to clarify I’m using setup.exe within the altered win 10 created usb to perform an upgrade which I’m preferable to an not a fresh install.
    Thank you in advance for your advice.

    • The files are really in ESD-USB\sources. It might look confusing on the video but there is no need to work with any other directory than \sources.
      If you’re upgrading using setup.exe there isn’t really a need to create a USB drive as you can leave the files on your HD. This also means that you don’t need to use Wimlib. (see the video about that for more details).

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