Windows 11 will create heaps of needless trash

The latest announcements for Windows 11 have revealed that the next version of the Windows operating system will have very stringent hardware requirements. Some of them are, in my opinion, quite reasonable. For example, they’re finally dropping support for 32 bit X86 and legacy BIOS boot. These make sense, because almost every PC manufactured since 2011 has supported X64 and UEFI. It also sheds a substantial amount of technical debt and cruft, and simplifies the system slightly. Those are good things, and make sense from a technical perspective.

Even the very controversial TPM requirement could maybe make sense. If Microsoft truly believes that encrypting your drive is going to stop Moldovan teenagers from hitting your PC with ransomware, maybe a TPM is the solution. After all, security is all about feelings rather than safety. If “encryption at rest” makes consumers feel at ease, so be it.

Alas, the truly problematic requirement for Windows 11 is that it will create an unbelievable amount of electronic waste because of its arbitrary CPU specs.

A modest Intel Skylake laptop from 2016 meets all the core requirements. It is 64 bit, supports UEFI, and even contains a hardware TPM 2.0 module on board. Practically nothing has changed in five years when it comes to PCs and laptops, aside from power consumption and battery life. And if Microsoft gets their way, that machine is going straight in the trash.

Even a Haswell system from late 2013 meets most of the requirements. A high end system from that era is comparable to most mid-range systems sold today.

The situation is even worse when you consider the severe global supply chain problems involving microprocessors. We should be extending the lives of existing machines as much as possible right now, encouraging people to purchase new computers right now is irresponsible. There will absolutely be a “boom” in semiconductor manufacturing in a year or two, but now is not the time for this.

Microsoft’s decision to deprecate the majority of consumer hardware is irresponsible and unconscionable. By going forward with the spec for Windows 11, they are directly responsible for an influx of hazardous waste and the environmental damage it will cause.