Windows 11 has become one of the most divisive and confusing OS releases in recent history, despite Microsoft's efforts to announce and detail the system's capabilities, requirements, and differences relative to Windows 10. While Microsoft has accompanied communications on Windows 11 with stringent system requirements, there are already numerous ways to circumvent hardware limitations floating through the internet. The latest one such experiment, carried out by user @Carlos_SM1995 (via Notebookcheck), actually managed to install and run the OS on supposedly - according to Microsoft - incompatible hardware. What is this mysterious chip that can actually run Microsoft's latest OS? It's an all-powerful, single-core Pentium 4 661 CPU from 2006. It does feature Hyper-Threading, though.
To be fair to Microsoft, the system requirements refer to the hardware configurations that can run Windows 11 out of the box, and which can sustain all of its features - including security-focused ones, which were the basis for the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) requirement, and others. It certainly sounds fair to say that Microsoft would finalize its system requirements based on users taking advantage of all of the OS' features - and it really wouldn't make much sense to take any other course of action. Some of Windows 11 security features require specific hardware implementations to run smoothly when they're actually active - but naturally, should those features be disabled, the performance hit doesn't actually register for the end-user.
As such, we would say that the fault lies not on Microsoft; as it is one thing to run the OS as intended by the company. The other is to find ways to skirt some of those requirements by disabling features that one will not use - such as TPM, Secure Boot or Virtualization-Based Security (VBS) features. This is exactly what was done to run this particular Windows 11 OS build and the system even receives updates via the integrated Windows Update functionality, as you can see in the video below.
What Microsoft could have done, of course, is clarify which features can be disabled by users in order to achieve broader backward compatibility. But again, it doesn't seem like such a great idea for Microsoft to ship Windows 11 with security-facing features and then telling users how to disable them - that's just not a good IT security practice, period. There are naturally risks when disabling OS features - especially security-centric ones, and Microsoft is playing it safe. Yet ultimately, this proves that users can still have control over what hardware they run their Windows 11 build - even if it just so happens that the hardware is a Pentium 4 from 2006.