Every time a major new version of Windows is released, Microsoft campaigns aggressively to get as many people to upgrade their devices as possible.  

That’s certainly been the case since Windows 11 arrived on 5 October. The new OS is a free upgrade for all compatible devices, with frequent reminders of its benefits via TV ads, social media and within Windows 10 itself. 

However, it doesn’t appear to have had the desired effect – yet. According to a survey of more than 10 million PCs by IT Asset Management company Lansweeper, just 0.21% of all devices were running Windows 11. To put that into context, Windows XP had a 3.62% market share, despite not being supported by Microsoft since 2014. 

There is one caveat to be aware of here. Despite the large sample size, Lansweeper focuses primarily on the corporate sector. The company hasn’t disclosed how it sourced survey participants, but these are more likely be business users. As Lansweeper itself reports, Windows 11’s new requirements mean many existing IT workstations aren’t compatible with the new OS. AdDuplex’s figure of 8.9% may therefore be more reflective of consumer attitudes, although it’s based on only 60,000 respondents. 

Either way, there’s work for Microsoft to do if it wants Windows 11 to become the dominant desktop operating system anytime soon. So, why have more people not updated to the new OS? 

Windows 11’s hardware requirements are strict 

This is undoubtedly the biggest barrier to entry – millions of Windows 10 devices simply aren’t compatible with Windows 11. Microsoft has made the hardware requirements much stricter as it prioritises security, with a recent 1GHz processor, TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot among the most controversial updates. 

There are ways to get around this, of course, but most people won’t be comfortable running Windows 11 on a device that’s not supported by Microsoft.

Most devices aren’t technically eligible yet 

When Microsoft announced Windows 11 back in June, it made it clear that the rollout would be gradual. This made sense – Windows 10 was installed on over 1.3 billion devices at the time.  

But just as Windows 11 was released on 5 October, Microsoft also shared the official Installation Assistant and ISO file for the same version. That meant anyone with a compatible device could update their hardware immediately via an officially supported method. 

However, this must be installed manually, rather than being automatically delivered to your device within Settings. Unless you’re especially keen to use Windows 11, there’s no rush: Windows 10 will continue to be supported until October 2025 anyway. 

Windows 11 is a big visual overhaul 

Even when Windows 11 becomes available to everyone, some reluctance to make the move from Windows 10 is likely. The new OS brings significant visual changes to a user experience that had become so familiar – plenty of elements either look different or function in a different way. 

Windows 11
Image: Microsoft

This stripped-back design language certainly isn’t for everyone, and it does take some getting used to. Aside from the ill-fated Windows 8, Microsoft’s OS has retained the same core look and feel for decades. 

Many Windows devices are inactive 

These surveys are presumably based on PCs that are being regularly used, but there are clearly plenty of inactive devices that make market share figures look worse than they are. It's highly unlikely that 3.5% of people are using Windows XP on their main computer, for example. 

Not only are these devices almost certainly not compatible with Windows 11, they may never see the light of day again. 

Of course, there’s plenty of time for Microsoft to get it right with regards to Windows 11’s popularity. The changes it introduced were always likely to be polarising, but it may take longer than expected for the bulk of eligible Windows 10 devices to make the switch. 

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