Installing Windows 11 on really old MacBook Pro’s – actually any old computer

Windows 11 is here. And I like it. I use Windows 10 daily so what does Windows 11 give me that I don’t already have. In short, nothing.

But Windows 11 looks more human. Rounded window corners. And properly grouped settings designed with the aim to make them easier to use on a tablet or touch enabled computer. And a little more colorful icons here and there. Especially the Windows Explorer has been given an overhaul to make its look more sensible.

The Start Menu in Windows 11 is nice, including a Pinned section ( app icons listed as on any mobile phone ) and a Recommended section ( listing recently accessed files ), but its section to access all applications installed is still as primitive and flawed as it has been since Windows 8. But fortunately the help is not far away. Just install Open-Shell and you are right back to the good old Windows 7 Start Menu. And now it is even better. In Windows 11 the icons on the Task Bar is centered as macOS also does. Which leaves the space open in the left side where the Open-Shell Start Menu will be located. So you are free to use ( and compare ) a proper Start Menu like Open-Shell and the one included with Windows 11. That is a brilliant move by Microsoft.

So how to install it. Microsoft initially introduced some over-the-edge requirements eliminating all computers older than 4 years. They have since relaxed some requirements, so now allowing most computers made for that last 8 years or so to be officially upgraded.

I will introduce a little fiddling with the installation media that will allow Windows 10 to be upgraded on most any computer. Why is that a good idea. Because I like the old MacBook Pro’s from 2011 and 2012. But they don’t have any TPM module ( required ) and the disk uses a hybrid MBR disk partition management that is not GPT ( required ). And they don’t support Secure Boot ( required ). So they are really incompatible in any way imaginable. Yet it can all be ignored.

The procedures described is for Windows 11 21H2 Pro build 22000.194 released October 2021. The first official version. It can be downloaded here :

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows11

Use the version in section Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO).

The starting point is a computer already updated to Windows 10 21H1.

Upgrading a quite modern computer ( 4 to 8 years old or so )

The steps needed to allow a slightly old computer with a CPU older than 4 years is to insert this information in the registry ( google it for the procedure ) :

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Setup\MoSetup]

“AllowUpgradesWithUnsupportedTPMOrCPU”=dword:00000001

With that information in place then a Windows 11 installation medium will perform an in-place upgrade to Windows 11 21H2. Simple as that. There are a few requirements still in place. TPM 1.2 or newer must be present and the other Microsoft artificial requirements.

Upgrading a very old computer

The steps needed to upgrade a really old MacBook Pro is surprisingly easy.

Mount the ISO file and copy the content of the Window 11 installation medium to a folder on a partition.

Locate a file in the Sources folder called appraiserres.dll. And delete it.

Then run the Setup.exe file to perform the upgrade to Windows 11. The installer will not prevent the installation. Simple as that.

Afterthought

Whether it is a good idea to install Windows 11 on such old computers is a personal judgement. Microsoft says you should not and did its best to prevent you from upgrading.

The reason should be for security reasons. But the old computer runs just fine without the availability of the security options.

Remember a complete system backup every now and then. Just in case Microsoft tricks you in a later update.