Microsoft unveiled its upcoming Windows 11 update to the world yesterday, and there are a lot of things we’re excited about (full Android apps! Xbox influences! No more tiles!), but that doesn’t entirely make up for some of the really — and we mean really — sucky details announced, too.
It seems like, for every great, new feature, there’s at least one additional caveat that makes us a bit wary of the OS rollout later this year. So just what are all the ways in which Microsoft’s hype can be tempered? Well, allow us to be your Friday afternoon buzzkill...
Better have a solid internet connection — First up on our “Aw, C’mon” list: Windows 11 Home Edition will only be available to customers via an online update. That means no physical disk options, and no Windows 11 installed on a USB. Not only that, but every Windows 11 Home Edition installation will either require a pre-existing Microsoft account, or force users to finally get around to creating one. Until now, a Microsoft account wasn’t necessary (although, of course, it was strongly encouraged and/or difficult to avoid), but it looks like those days are finally over once Windows 11 makes it onto your PC.
... And a webcam, while you’re at it — Despite Microsoft advertising increased security (more on that in a moment) with Windows 11, the company’s fine print for the overhaul reveals another particularly annoying requirement: beginning January 1, 2023, all Windows laptops (desktops are safe) will require at least a forward-facing camera. Yep, that means every laptop, smartphone, and tablet. And not just any webcam will do, either; it’s gotta be high-def. “HD here refers to 720p with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 and 1:1 aspect ratio. Furthermore, it also needs to have support for auto white-balance and auto exposure,” explains Neowin in a recent post.
Potential headaches in store for DIYers — Next up on the “must have” checklist: an enabled TPM 2.0 device. Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs) are dedicated processors for hardware encryption purposes like BitLocker and Windows Hello. Microsoft has required PC manufacturers to include TPM 2.0 chips within all their Windows 10 pre-installed products since 2016, but that stipulation of course never extended to individual motherboards popular with DIYers. “Many consumer motherboards don’t come with a TPM chip installed,” notes Digital Trends, adding that “it’s not immediately clear that TPM is the cause of the problem, and there’s not a clear-cut solution for enabling it.”
Digital Trends also notes that, while most consumer motherboards don’t include a dedicated TPM chip, they usually do with its firmware through Intel Platform Trust Technology (PTT). DIY users can fiddle with the settings for some possible workarounds, but suffice to say, it’s yet another headache in store for many out there. Which leads us to...
TPM 2.0 chip prices are ridiculous right now — Because of this little change from Microsoft, scalpers are having a good ol’ time jacking up the prices of normally very sensibly priced TPM 2.0 chips. As some have pointed out, a chip that might have set you back $24.90 a day or two ago is now going for around $100. So that’s nice.
That generous “zero-percent” cut for apps has a big asterisk — One of the biggest back-end announcements for Windows 11 is the generous decision to allow app developers the option of using their own or third-party commerce platforms of their choosing, with Microsoft taking a “zero-percent” cut of those profits. That’s definitely a nice change, but it explicitly applies to apps, and apps only. This is the House of Xbox, after all, so game developers will still need to cough up tribute to their Microsoft overlords. That said, Microsoft announced it would be dropping its cut from 30 percent to 12 percent beginning on August 1 (take that, Apple!) for any game sold through the Microsoft Store, but it’s a good reminder that Windows 11, like all Big Tech updates, always requires a closer look.