Microsoft won't allow many older Surface devices to upgrade to Windows 11

Any Surface device that's older than three years may be in danger of not being able to upgrade to Windows 11. Blame Microsoft's new hardware requirements.

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung / IDG

About half of Microsoft’s Surface lineup will be ineligible to upgrade to Windows 11, the company confirmed Thursday after announcing the new operating system.

When PCWorld asked which Surface devices would be eligible for Windows 11, a Microsoft representative responded via email with the names of just five legacy devices, as well as the most modern revisions of each of Microsoft’s Surface lineup. To date, Microsoft has shipped twenty-five different Surface models, excluding the Surface Duo.

Microsoft didn’t comment on why it was excluding many of its Surface devices from Windows 11, but the reason most likely corresponds with the minimum Windows 11 hardware requirements listed earlier today, and possibly the need for a TPM 2.0 coprocessor. 

Of the 25 Surface device families that Microsoft has shipped to date, only 13 will be eligible for Windows 11. Most of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablets won’t be eligible for an upgrade. Microsoft didn’t list the Surface Hub or Surface Studio among those eligible for an upgrade, either. Simply put, if you own a Surface device that was shipped before 2017, chances are that your device won’t be eligible for the Windows 11 upgrade.

“The following devices meet the minimum hardware requirements to test Windows 11 by joining the Windows Insider Program,” the Microsoft representative said in a statement. Customers can use the PC Health Check app to see if their device meets the minimum system requirements, she added.

The Surfaces that can upgrade to Windows 11

According to Microsoft, the Surface devices that are eligible to upgrade to Windows 11 include the following list. We’ve added each device's release date in parentheses.

  • Surface Book 3 (May 2020)
  • Surface Book 2: only the models with 8th-gen Intel CPUs (Core i5-8350U or Core i7-8650U, not the Core i5-7300U) (Nov. 2017)
  • Surface Go 2 (May 2020)
  • Surface Laptop 4 13.5” (Apr. 2021)
  • Surface Laptop 4 15” (Apr. 2021)
  • Surface Laptop 3 13.5” (Oct. 2019)
  • Surface Laptop 3 15” (Oct. 2019)
  • Surface Laptop 2 (Oct. 2018)
  • Surface Laptop Go (Oct. 2020)
  • Surface Pro 7+ (Feb. 2021)
  • Surface Pro 7 (Oct. 2019)
  • Surface Pro 6 (Oct. 2018)
  • Surface Pro X (Nov. 2019)

Separately, PCWorld has begun testing our Surface devices on hand to see whether they conform to the Windows 11 requirements. Gordon Mah Ung tested the Surface Pro 3, the device that put the Surface Pro lineup on the map, and found that it did not pass Microsoft’s compatibility checker.

While Microsoft has implied that you’ll want to upgrade to Windows 11 with these cool, unexpected Windows 11 features, it’s also implied that you’ll have plenty of time to keep working on Windows 10 if you’d like. Windows 10 will go out of support and into “retirement” in 2025. Still, for a PC industry that thrives on supporting legacy devices, it’s disappointing—especially if you’ve invested in a premium Surface device and hoped to get some more mileage out of it.

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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