While Microsoft has expanded its CPU compatibility list for Windows 11 to include some 7th Gen Intel Core processors, it is also quietly letting people install the new operating system on older hardware by installing it with an ISO rather than using Windows Update. These computers may not meet Microsoft's stated requirements in its PC Health Check app, but it may keep many PCs from being shut out of Windows 11.
None of this information was in Microsoft's blog post today, announcing the slight changes to the compatibility list and the reintroduction of PC Health Check. But reports form Thurrot, ZDNet and The Verge suggest Microsoft will let it occur as a bit of an open secret. (Tom's Hardware has reached out to Microsoft for more information, but it did not respond before press time.)
If you're willing to download an ISO via the Media Creation Tool and perform the install manually, you'll be be able to install Windows 11 in spite of the CPU compatibility list. That is, as long as you have a 64 bit, dual-core or higher-end processor at 1GHz, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and TPM 1.2, which were the initial system requirements stated for Windows 11.
This isn't, of course, something Microsoft is advising, and Windows 11 will reportedly notify users that their systems are in an "unsupported state," though it isn't entirely clear what that means for future security updates.
Still, this concession is a way to quietly make enthusiasts happy while ensuring newly purchased and built computers meet the security requirements that it says is raising the bar to prevent complex attacks and raise the security baseline for all PCs.