A new version of Microsoft’s Windows Operating System is now on the horizon, and when Windows 11 arrives later this year, it will bring with it an acronym that everyone who wants to use the new OS will need to know. TPM (Trusted Platform Module) is an international standard for a secure cryptoprocessor, a dedicated microcontroller designed to secure hardware through integrated cryptographic keys. English translation: Your computer may need to have an up-to-date TPM chip on its motherboard to use the next version of Windows.
This requirement represents a significant change for Microsoft and is not without controversy. For more than four decades, one of the bedrock policies of Microsoft has been a dedication to legacy support. Every few years when a new version of a Windows was released, consumers could be confident that Microsoft had gone to great lengths to not render older hardware and software unusable. This policy sometimes constrained innovation, but also meant that if you were still using an old computer, you could most likely upgrade and not be left behind. Your antique computer might not perform very well with the newest version of Windows, but it would still run until you finally decided to buy something faster.
TPM technology is designed to provide hardware-based security. A TPM chip on the motherboard makes it slightly more tamper resistant because virus or malware programs are largely unable to circumvent protections in the hardware. This technology has been under development for more than a decade, while the current standard v2.0 was published in 2019. As far back as 2006, some high-end (read US$1,000 and up) computers included TPM chips, but larger numbers of lower-priced consumer PCs do not.
That 2019 date is important because as things stand now, it appears the new Windows 11 is not going to be able to run on any computer older than that. PLEASE NOTE: This is still subject to change as Windows 11 has not yet been released, and when the final product is released, it may continue to support older hardware.
Microsoft’s web page “Introducing Windows 11” provides some details on what to expect in the way of new features. The page at “microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-11” also includes a link to a free utility you may download to check the compatibility of your computer for the new Windows. I must warn you though that the webpage concludes with an ominous section “Shop for a Windows 11-compatible PC at these retailers” including links to Amazon, BestBuy, Walmart, and (of course) the Microsoft Store.
So, my current advice to readers who might be considering the purchase of a new PC is to be aware of upcoming developments. I myself am postponing the purchase of my next laptop PC until after Windows 11 arrives, and that will probably be this fall. I hope that coincides with the Black Friday sales.
Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8@SMAguru.com.