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Report: Ancient PCs simply won't boot Windows 11

Windows 11 logoImage: Microsoft

The early days of Windows 11 and its hardware requirements were simply a mess. According to a new potential discovery, the upcoming Windows 11 24H2 might be a little simpler — older PCs simply won’t boot.

And by old PCs, we mean old PCs. A Twitter user claims that he has discovered a hard stop on PCs dating back to the last decade, based on a CPU instruction that’s now required.

The instruction in question is POPCNT, or population count. Why Microsoft’s Windows requires this instruction isn’t known.

What we do know, however, is that POPCNT debuted 15 years ago in 2008 as part of the Nehalem architecture, though it also appeared in contemporary AMD CPUs of the time. Within Intel’s Core processors, the instruction was commercialized within the second-generation Core chip, known as Sandy Bridge, which launched in 2011. Intel is shipping its 14th-gen Core chips this year. Even if you don’t have the latest hardware, you likely have a PC that’s within range.

If you don’t, however, the implications are simple: It simply won’t boot, according to the findings. (We’ve asked Microsoft for comment, but the company hasn’t responded by press time.) Windows 11 24H2, which apparently won’t be known as Windows 12, is due to launch this fall.

When Windows 11 launched, the industry weathered a series of successive reports on whether or not Windows 11 would run on your hardware. Now, the answer could be much clearer. But chances are your PC almost certainly will work.

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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