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Windows 11 Upgrade on Unsupported Hardware: The Cool Trick

This post will guide you through detailed and straightforward steps to perform an in-place Windows 11 installation or upgrade — including the latest version, 22H2 — on unsupported hardware running Windows 10 or an earlier release of Windows 11.

That’s right. If your computer is running Windows 10 64-bit — the case of most computers released before 2022 — then it can run Windows 11 equally well, regardless of any extra “requirements.”

Before continuing, please note that you need to be the site’s supporter to get the downloads mentioned here — they are also available elsewhere on the Internet — or, with enough intention, you can create your own.

Dong’s note: I first published this piece on October 21, 2021, and updated it on September 24, 2023, to address the Windows 11 22H2. As usual, make sure you read the post carefully. Due to past abuses, starting November 2022, downloads are only available to registered members.

Windows 11 upgrade: That dreadful message you might get when upgrading to Windows 11 from many existing Windows 10 computers.

Windows 11 is slated to replace Windows 10 completely in 2025 — we have no choice.

You can upgrade a computer that meets the hardware requirements to Windows 11 like you usually do with Windows 10 feature upgrades — via Windows Update or manually. However, if your hardware is deemed unqualified, you’ll run into a message saying just that, and the setup process will not continue.

And that’s where the no-name upgrade tool, by a Czech GitHub developer @coofcookie, comes into play. It enables users to do a regular in-place upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 on any computer while bypassing the initial hardware requirement check.

It’s important to note that this software tool only works with the installer of Windows 11 21H2 (or older releases). But you’ll find here a customized ISO of the latest 22H2 release that works with it. (I’ll update this post when Windows 11 23H2 comes along.)

For this post, I used a decade-old Inspiron 3847 running on an Intel Core i5-4460, though I’ve also successfully tried the same method on an even much older Dell Precision T1500, first built for Windows 7.

File systems and disk partitioning: How to take control of your storage

Windows Getting Ready for Windows Upgrade
Windows 11 upgrade: Here’s my Windows 10 computer before the Windows 11 upgrade. Note the dreadful you-don’t-belong message each time I run Windows Update and, most importantly, our little Win11 folder on its desktop.

Windows 11 upgrade on unsupported hardware: The steps

Here are the detailed A-B-C steps for an in-place upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 or from an earlier release of Windows 11 to a newer one.

A. Prepare the computer

As a rule, back up your system beforehand.

Note that the trick mentioned here only removes the hardware requirements from the process of installing Windows 11 on your computer. It doesn’t do anything else and won’t fix any problems.

For the upgrade to work, your Windows 10 computer must be in a good, error-free state. Even on supported hardware, there can be many issues when upgrading Windows from one release to another, and they remain when you use the tool.

If the upgrade process fails, you can check the log files for specific reasons. There are two of them called “setupact.log” and “setuperr.log” generally located in one or both of these locations:

C:\Windows\Panther\
C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\

These log files will help determine what should be done to make your computer upgrade-ready.

Generally, here are a few common ways to make upgrading Windows a smooth ride:

  • Run Windows Update and update the computers to the latest driver, software, and security patches.
  • Remove legacy or unused software and hardware.
  • Make sure the drive that holds Windows — C: in most cases — has enough unused storage space. 30GB or more is recommended.
  • Disable antivirus software, close all running programs and restart the computer before initializing the upgrade progress.
  • Consider the “Clean install” option — you’ll lose all existing data and applications.

B. Download Windows 11 installer ISO and upgrade tool files

For this post, I created a folder called Win11 on the computer’s desktop area. You can create any folder you want. Just make sure you know where it is. But let’s assume that you make the same folder. Now we need to put the Windows ISO installer file and the upgrade tool’s files into it.

Important note on downloads

All software and files mentioned in this post are freely available elsewhere on the Internet — you can find them that way or, in some cases, create your own.

To prevent abuses and exploits — which have happened and caused this website to crash — download links mentioned here might have restrictions and be available only to the site’s Ko-fi member-only section or this subscriber-exclusive download page.

Don’t want to support the site’s honest hard work but feel like you somehow deserve special treatment? Send us a message explaining that, and we’ll consider sending you the files directly.

Getting the right Windows 11 ISO file

For the Windows 11 installer file — in the form of an ISO disk image — you have these options:

  1. Windows 11 21H2‘s public original ISO file, once available directly from Microsoft. This file will upgrade your computer to Windows 11 21H2 (released on October 4, 2021). Download links:
  2. Windows 11 22H2 customized ISO file. This file has been modified and will upgrade your computer, running Windows 10 or earlier versions of Windows 11, to Windows 11 22H2 (September 9, 2022). Download links:

Extra: The general direction for creating the customized Windows 11 ISO file

The updating tool mentioned here only works with the installer of Windows 11 version 21H2. Specifically, if you use it with the Microsoft-provided ISO file of Windows 22H2 (or newer), you’ll get the same message that your computer is not supported.

But there’s a way to turn a Windows 11 21H2 ISO into one that will install version Windows 11 22H2. The trick is to replace the former’s main data file with that of the latter. The process doesn’t alter the content of any particular file and will not affect how Windows works once installed.

To create the special installer, you need to have both ISO files and some tools to rebuild a customized ISO file.

For the below screenshots as a demo, I saved the ISO file in the Win11 folder and used the “Win11_English_x64.iso” name — the .iso portion might not be visible. You can use whichever name you want, including the file’s default, as long as you know what it is.

Download the requirement-bypass upgrade tool

Different versions of the upgrade tool are available on the Internet.

Here are the download links for the version I’ve used for myself with consistent results, as shown in this post:

The tool is a .zip folder. Open it, and you will find four files inside. Drag and drop them all in our Win11 folder.

The Win11 folder now has five files if you have followed the above steps closely, as shown in the screenshot below.

Windows Getting Ready for Windows Upgrade Folder Content
Windows 11 upgrade: Note the Win11 folder’s content that includes the Windows 11 ISO file (Win11_English_64) and four files of the upgrade tool.

C. Perform the in-place upgrade via the upgrade tool

There are a few steps in this part.

1. Run the upgrade tool

Right-click on the Windows11Upgrade file and choose “Run as Administrator.”

By the way, double-clicking on the file to execute it the usual way might not work out in some cases — the upgrade process might stall at some point.

Windows Getting Ready for Windows Upgrade Folder Run the Tool
Windows 11 upgrade: You want to run the upgrade tool as an administrator.
2. Confirm the launch

A confirmation window will pop up. Answer it affirmatively.

Confirmation
Windows 11 upgrade: The User Account Control will need your confirmation on running the file. Answer it affirmatively.
3. Pick the ISO file

Click on the Select Windows 11 ISO file option and navigate to the file you have downloaded the ISO file in step #1. Select it, then click on Open.

Load the ISO
Windows 11 upgrade: Use the upgrade tool to select the Windows 11 ISO file. The name of the file might vary depending on which one you downloaded or how you named it.
4. Pick the upgrade option and install Windows 11

Pick the upgrade option of your liking or keep the default Upgrade option and click on Install system.

Pick the Opption
Windows 11 upgrade: Pick the upgrade option to proceed. The Clean install is a good choice for a computer that currently has software issues — all existing user data and software will be removed.

And that’s it. You can walk away or mind other business. The upgrade process will progress like a typical Windows feature upgrade, which will restart the computer a few times. After about 30 minutes or so, depending on how fast your computer is, you’ll find yourself a “new” computer running Windows 11 of the version you picked.

Windows Upgrade has Started
Windows 11 upgrade: The Windows 11 in-place upgrade process is doing its things.

How to upgrade to Windows 11 22H2 (and newer) without tools

It’s possible to upgrade an unsupported computer to Windows 11 without using any special tool as long as you have temporary supported hardware, namely a computer that meets all requirements of Windows 11.

In this case, it’s best to use a standard desktop computer. The only requirement is that the unsupported computer uses the same boot method and partition type as the supported one. This is likely already the case.

After that, here are the general directions:

  • If you want to upgrade an existing Windows 11 (21H2 and earlier) or Windows 10 computer:
    1. Move the internal boot drive of the unsupported computer to the supported one. When you boot up, the machine will go through a short process of “getting devices ready,” and you’ll be able to log in. (Since this is temporary, there’s no need to reactivate Windows if you’re prompted to do so.)
    2. Upgrade the supported computer (running the internal drive of the unsupported one) to the latest version of Windows 11. The process will go through with no issues since the hardware meets the requirements.
    3. Once the upgrade is finished, move the internal drive back to the unsupported computer. Mission accomplished.
  • If you don’t need to keep existing data, you can do a fresh installation. In this case:
    1. Install Windows 11 22H2 fresh on the supported computer.
    2. Make an image using drive cloning software — I’d recommend Macrium Reflect.
    3. Restore that image on an internal drive, then install that drive on the unsupported hardware (or any computer that you’d like to have a fresh copy of Windows 11 on) — make sure the hardware itself has a digital Windows 10 or 11 license tied to it, or you’ll have to activate it anew. Mission accomplished.

The result

After the upgrade, you’ll also find that Windows 11 is already activated (assuming you’re using a legit version of Windows 10), and all existing software remains the same.

Again, Windows 11 is very much an incremental version of Windows 10.

Windows 11 22H2 Running Unsupported Hardware
Windows 11 upgrade: Mission accomplished. Here’s my old machine running the latest Windows OS. Everything is in working order.

In case it’s not obvious, running Windows 11 on a computer that doesn’t have Secure Boot or Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 means any feature or function of the OS relating to those two will not be available.

Unless you have a specific need, there’s nothing to be concerned about, and in my opinion, the lack of these two features doesn’t affect the computer’s day-to-day operation. I’ve never used them.

Windows 11 will work on the old hardware just like you use it on newer and qualified hardware, and you can update it to regular security and improvement patches. However, the tricks mentioned here are the only ways to advance to future feature releases.

The takeaway

Again, if your current computer runs Windows 10 (64-bit), it can run Windows 11. If you can install it the “official” way, great! If not, there’s this way.

Of course, you can get a new computer and install Windows 11 on it — chances are it already comes with Windows 11 — the way Microsoft (and its hardware partners) would love you to do, and I have nothing against it.

But if you have hardware that’s still good, it’s always better for the environment and our wallets not to consume more than necessary.