Microsoft promised Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows; it begs the question – so what changed again that made Microsoft a liar. The idea of a continuous update of Windows 10 has been abandoned which then again asks; why does Microsoft need Windows 11?
The answer is most probably lockdown. One of the trends in computing is that as time ticks on we lose more and more control over the hardware. Back in the days of the home computer revolution you bought a computer and did what you like with it. The idea that you couldn’t run some software due to artificial restrictions was silly. The machine was yours to do what you like with and if you created a program you could give it away or sell it without hindrance from the company that made the hardware.
Today, of course, things are very different. Cryptography has provided methods that allow hardware to be locked down in such a way that you don’t really own your computers any more. This is almost always presented to the user as “protection”. The idea being that the user can only run software that has been checked and validated by a “higher power”.
Many users, and not just those ignorant of tech, regard this as a good swap – freedom they rarely exercise in return for security. Many others, mostly tech savvy, regard it all as an unnecessary security ploy that is in fact all about keeping the customer penned inside a walled garden of profit.
Windows was too early to catch the crypto boat that allows this sort of lockdown. It was only later that Apple introduced us to the idea that software was exclusive to its hardware. Ever since, however, we have had the impression that Microsoft would like to follow Apple down that particular road. Repeated attempts to lock down Windows, via activation numbers and hardware finger printing, secure booting and using crypto hardware, have been watered down at the last minute due to user objections. Window 11 is another attempt to lock the OS down so that only Microsoft truly controls it.
The tech world was a little shocked to discover that Windows 11 would only run on the latest processors. This in itself will probably create mountains of tech waste as large PC users simply opt to upgrade to new hardware. Until Windows 11 Microsoft issued guidelines on what processor was required and it was up to you to decide if a system was too slow to use. The reasons for restricting Windows 11 to 8th generation devices isn’t clear, but what is clear is that a range of security hardware is needed including TPM 2.