Last month brought hints that Microsoft was planning to implement a watermark on Windows 11 desktops that didn't meet the minimum hardware requirements. This 'feature' appeared for some but not all insider testers. Today Windows Latest reports that the watermark is probably heading for production devices (RTM) because it is in the latest optional update for all users in the Release Preview Channel.
Above, you can see a sample of the Windows 11 "System requirements not met" watermark. It is situated just above the system tray area and may consist of up to three lines of text, so it is hard to miss and would be more noticeable on some darker wallpapers.
We also highlighted another little reminder secreted by Microsoft in the latest Windows 11 Insider build. Circled towards the top of the image you can see in the System area of the control panel the "System requirements not met" message is repeated. Next to this reminder is a link that you can follow through to learn more.
Revisiting the Windows 11 Hardware Requirements
Many a column inch was devoted to Microsoft's decision to sideline many capable and sprightly PC systems with regard to friction-free upgrades to Windows 11. But, of course, it didn't help matters that Microsoft announced the strict requirements, then said it would reconsider things, and revised them, while delivering various warnings about support and updates for systems that got Windows 11 shoehorned onto them but didn't quite meet the spec.
Hiding the Message
If the "System requirements not met" watermark particularly annoys you, there is a way to banish it from the desktop. It only needs a few steps in Regedit, followed by a restart. Please take these steps at your own risk and be careful - make sure you have a good system backup or at least a registry backup before proceeding, for example.
To remove the watermark from the desktop, first fire up Regedit, expand the HKEY_CURRENT_USER branch, find the UnsupportedHardwareNotificationCache entry and then right-click this lengthy word and change the SV2 DWORD value from 1 to 0. Next, close Regedit, restart the PC, and your lovely wallpaper will return unsullied. However, it wouldn't be totally unexpected for the watermark to return in later Windows updates.
If you are interested in Windows 11 but have yet to take the plunge and update, it is worth looking through our install guide. First of all, you might want to acquire a TPM 2.0 if that is the only roadblock to meeting minimum system requirements. If there are several obstacles in your way, please check this guide.
It is possible that Windows 11 might be too many new things for you to handle in one go, and if you miss the old days, you can quite easily make Windows 11 look and feel quite a lot like Windows 10. Lastly, if you are suffering from buyer's remorse, you can always roll back to Windows 10, which will continue to be supported by Microsoft until October 2025.