Microsoft is testing a Windows 11 desktop watermark for unsupported hardware

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Microsoft is currently experimenting with two new methods to warn Windows 11 users that they have installed the operating system on unsupported hardware. In the latest test builds of Windows 11, a new watermark has appeared on the desktop wallpaper, alongside a similar warning in the landing page of the settings app.

If the test build is running on unsupported hardware, the desktop watermark simply states “system requirements not met,” and appears alongside the build number that is only shown on evaluation or pre-release versions of Windows. It’s similar, but less prominent, to the semi-transparent watermark that appears in Windows if you haven’t activated the OS. Twitter user Albacore first spotted the settings warning earlier this month.

Both the settings and desktop wallpaper include a warning.

It’s not clear if Microsoft intends to enable this desktop wallpaper warning widely, though. The software maker revealed recently that it would test new additions to Windows 11 that might not make the final cut. Still, these new warnings are a sign that Microsoft wants to modify how Windows 11 appears on unsupported hardware.

Microsoft’s minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11 have been controversial, particularly as the OS only officially supports Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake or Zen+ and Zen 2 CPUs and up. This move left millions of PCs behind, but there’s an easy way to bypass that restriction and install Windows 11. Now anyone who has used that workaround may start to see these warnings in future updates to Windows 11.

Microsoft has used similar warnings for unactivated versions of Windows in the past, and restricts features like dark mode, personalization settings, and themes from being modified until a system is activated. Microsoft doesn’t appear to be experimenting with any feature restrictions, and the warnings are so far only subtle ones instead of pop-ups or notifications.

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