As many as 400,000,000 Windows 10 PCs can’t be upgraded to Windows 11


Last Updated on June 16, 2024 by David Both

Will you ditch your old Windows 10 PCs for new Windows 11 ones, or is there another way?

According to a study by Lansweeper, and reported on ZDNet in 2022, less than 43% of PCs can be upgraded from Windows 10 to Windows 11. Worst case, that probably works out to about 400 Million PCs according to the ZDNet article, 5 ways to save your Windows 10 PC in 2025 – and most are free, by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor, as of June of 2024.

When considering all PCs that run older versions of Windows — all the way back to Windows 2000, XP, and Vista, it is likely that more than one-half of all still-working Windows PCs will be left in Windows limbo when support for Windows 10 expires. Of course all Windows versions older than 10 are already in that limbo but that is by choice — sort of. Many people and organizations just never updated old PCs and used any of a hundred or so excuses to justify that decision. Or they just forgot or neglected to do it.

The problems

One current problem, according to both ZDNet articles, is that Windows 11 is simply incompatible with many PCs because it doesn’t play well with some hardware, specifically, those motherboards that contain the so-called Trusted Platform Module (TPM). In addition Liam Tung, Contributing Writer for ZDNet, specifically attributes Windows’ ever-increasing appetite for more/better/faster hardware as the culprit for over 40% of Windows 10 PCs that are incapable of being upgraded enough to meet the minimum requirements. And, of course, none of the older Windows PCs will be able to meet those requirements, either.

Microsoft, most hardware companies, software companies, and computer retailers, all urge us to purchase new computers to enable us to use Windows 11. Of course the all-important revenue stream drives the urgency behind that. Meanwhile most of those older computers just get dumped somewhere. And it’s not pretty.

Look at the picture at the top of the article. Yes, now. I’ll wait.

That e-waste contains a lot of stuff including many computers, displays, and other computer hardware. But, even though the picture was taken at a recycling site, it represents only a few hundred computers out of the millions that are discarded every year. Unfortunately only 17.5% of e-waste is recycled as I point out in my article “E-Waste – Where does it go?“. That’s not very much and huge amounts of e-waste simply get buried in landfills or worse – dumped along the side of the road. One of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen was close by. My wife and I walk the pedestrian greenways here in Raleigh, which are created and maintained by our Wake County government. Someone had dumped a trailer-load of waste, including computers and other electronics a couple hundred yards into the path we were walking.

If your computer does make it into a recycling stream, the probability is that it’s headed to some African or Asian location where it will be smelted down into recoverable precious metals and environmentally disastrous leftovers that will poison the people and the land where this all takes place.

If you discard your old computers, don’t expect them to be properly recycled as that’s highly unlikely. Some locations have options for responsible recycling, which I also cover in my article “E-Waste – Where does it go?

But even responsible recycling of older computers is not the best answer.

Why not stay with older Windows?

Most of you already know my stance on Windows. Windows sucks and I’ve never used it as the primary operating system on any of my own personal computers. However, I have used a few releases of Windows in virtual machines for testing and for research for all of my books and for many of my articles.

It’s possible to keep running computers that have older versions of Windows that are no longer supported. Lots of people do it. However, all of those systems still have many of the security vulnerabilities that Windows is known for. This means that they are certainly infected with numerous types of malware. That means that your personal and business data is available for sale on the dark web. It also means that your computer is open to all types of attacks including ransomware, stealing your passwords, reading your email and so much more.

Worse, your computer may be part of a network of infected zombie computers that are being used as part of a botnet to attack and infect other computers. There is no way for you to know whether this is the case or not, but your computer can be used to infect thousands of other computers and devices on the Internet.

And all of those pop-up messages telling you your computer is infected and to call Windows support to install the latest anti-whatever software. Another phishing expedition to get you to disclose your personal and banking information, or to scare you into paying extortion money because you think your system is really being held hostage.

You may wonder why your Windows computer runs so slowly. It’s definitely not because your computer is getting old. It’s because of all the junkware (as I call it) that’s installed on your system by the crackers (that’s bad, malicious hackers). That junkware sucks up all your computer’s resources and leaves little left for doing the real work you need to do.

The bottom line is that you really must upgrade — if not to Windows 11, then to something else. However, the initial problem resurfaces here because The Windows 11 installer won’t upgrade more than half of the computers that actually need it.

But how can I upgrade if Windows 11 won’t let me? That’s a bit of a problem isn’t it?


In his ZDNet article, 5 ways to save your Windows 10 PC in 2025 – and most are free, Vaughan-Nichols, lists those titular five options while he discounts all but two of them.

One of the options he dislikes somehow involves forcing Windows 11 into performing the upgrade. The issue with that is that Microsoft won’t support computers that have been upgraded that way. Two other options involve paying either Microsoft or a third party to provide “extended support.”

Vaughan-Nichols does offer an unnumbered sixth solution: just keep running Windows 10, which is what I expect many people to do. His comment on this:

Do you have a death wish!? No, just no! Unless your Windows 10 PC is never, ever connected to the Internet, this is just asking for trouble.

Vaughan-Nichols, Steven, ZDNet

The Linux solution

The first of the viable options that Vaughan-Nichols lists, is to install Linux. In the short space he gives it, he says,

Yes, I know you’ve been told that Linux is hard to use and hard to install. It’s not. Sure, back in the 2000s, you needed to be a Linux shell command wizard to install it and run its software. That was a long time ago.

Today, anyone can run Linux. Heck, more than a decade ago, I taught a 79-year-old how to run Ubuntu Linux, and we didn’t even share a common language! Another advantage of running Linux is that your PC will never be left behind. I have computers more than a decade old that came with Windows XP, and they’re running up-to-date Linux to this day.

Vaughan-Nichols, Steven, ZDNet

While she was still able, My eighty-something year old mother used a Linux computer I built for her. My yoga teacher and co-author for our book, Linux for Small Business Owners, has been using Linux to run her business for many years. It’s really no harder than Windows. According to my yoga teacher, Cyndi:

Technology has always intimidated me and in the early years when I used Microsoft as an OS, I was continually challenged with regular malware, viruses and system snafus that held up my business, leaving me frustrated and hamstringing my ability to earn a living. Finding reliable and affordable help to remedy the ongoing challenges was a continuous problem.

David, aka LinuxGeek46, was a regular student of the Yoga studio and we became very friendly over the years. I knew he was a techie, so when I got in a real pickle with a crashing system, he came to my rescue, restored my OS and recovered important lost data. I thought I was staring down the barrel of replacing my computer, but that wasn’t the case. David was able to rebuild and restore my existing computer like new, only faster and much safer. He was instantly my hero!

Prior to knowing David, I’d never really heard of Linux. David was kind and patient enough to support my failing OS for a good stretch, until we’d both had enough of the headaches that came with all those recurring problems. When he first suggested switching to Linux, I admit I was intimidated. Although Microsoft had it’s headaches, it was familiar and I knew how to use it. I didn’t have a lot of confidence when it came to learning new technology, so I was a bit reluctant. David assured me it was easy enough even for tech phobes like me, so I bought in. He was a patient angel getting me built and up to speed. Turns out he was right….learning Linux was easy. Plus, it eliminated the virus and malware problem completely. I quickly saw how much money and time it saved me since I rarely had to give any time or attention to fixing problems. I was able to use that freed time and energy to do what I was best at….building my business on the human side. Other than system updates and the occasional upgrade, my experience as a Linux user has been pretty seamless.

I’ve not looked back even once. Not to say I haven’t had questions for David from time to time, but the answers were most often simple and straightforward and I can’t recall a time when I was out of pocket because of a system shutdown. Since developing online learning programs most recently, David has also introduced me to invaluable Open Source Software to help me create signature podcasts and videos that sound great. I wish I could own being proficient and confident when it comes to technology these days, but I won’t. I’m still a tech phobe — although it has become infinitely easier and I feel really good about the products I’m putting out in the world.

People like me need for technology to be reliable and simple so we can do the other kind of creative stuff we are best suited to do. I thrive when I am able to dedicate my energy to building programming and community. OS problems stress me out and suck my energy. The peace of mind, the time and money savings and the freedom from frustration I’ve garnered as a Linux user is why I’m a dedicated user to this day.

Cyndi Bulka, Yoga teacher, Linux for Small Business Owners, Apress, 2022

Vaughan-Nichols lists the other viable option as to install ChromeOS which is Linux that uses cloud-based service for data storage and applications.

I’ve used Linux since 1996 so, as of this writing, nearly 30 years. I’ve never used Windows as a primary operating system on any of my personal systems, though I have used it in virtual machines for testing and research for my books and articles.

One old Dell computer that was gifted to me was built in 2005 so it’s nearly 19 years old. Linux keeps it running flat out 24×7. I have other computers — all of which I built myself — that are over a decade old and that are also running full-tilt 24×7.

Try Linux; it’s easier than you think.

Additional Resources

My articles

I have published some articles on this site about using Linux and reclaimed parts to restore older computers. Rather than reproduce all of that here, you can use the following links.

External articles