This post will guide you through detailed and straightforward steps to perform an in-place Windows 11 installation or upgrade — to versions 21H2, 22H2, or the latest 23H2 — on unsupported hardware running Windows 10.
If your computer is running Windows 10 64-bit, like most computers released before 2022, then it can run Windows 11 equally well, regardless of any extra “requirements.”
You’ll find below the tool to get the job done and the downloads for the latest 2023 Windows 11 23H2 ISO file, as well as other related versions of Windows and brief instructions on how to make your own ISOs.
Dong’s note: I first published this piece on October 21, 2021, and updated it on September 26, 2023, to address the Windows 11 23H2. As usual, make sure you read the post carefully. Due to past abuses, starting November 2022, downloads are only available to registered members.
Windows 11 upgrade on unsupported computer: The current state of play
Windows 11 is slated to replace Windows 10 completely in 2025 — we have no choice.
Since its official release in October 2022, Windows 11 has undergone several major feature revisions, with the latest being 23H2, indicating that it is a version released in the second half of 2023 — September 26, 2023, to be specific.
Before that, there were versions 22H2 (September 2022) and 21H2 (October 2021). There will likely be version 24H2 and more until we reach Windows 12.
You can upgrade a computer that meets the hardware requirements to all versions of Windows 11 like you usually do with Windows 10 feature upgrades — via Windows Update or manually. However, if your hardware is deemed unqualified, you’ll get a message saying just that for each incremental release, and the setup process will not continue.
One of the controversies about Windows 11 is its ridiculous hardware requirements. Specifically, among other things, your computer needs to support Secure Boot and feature Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0.
Neither is essential to the day-to-day operation of the computer. The two are so non-essential that hardware vendors often disable them by default. Likely, they are simply excuses for Microsoft to coerce users into getting new hardware unnecessarily.
But you sure can run Windows 11 of any release on any Windows 10 computer. Over the past two years, I’ve personally upgraded dozens of computers, as old as those built for Windows 7, to Windows 11 with great success, saving folks thousands of dollars in unnecessary expense. Frankly, many old machines can run the new OS as smoothly as supported hardware, even better in some cases.
There are two reliable methods to upgrade an unqualified computer running Windows 10 to Windows 11.
Windows 11 can run on computers that still use the Master Boot Record instead of the GPT partition table for the boot drive. Chances are you can’t find any computer with this Legacy BIOS anymore.
The first method is via a no-name upgrade tool by a Czech GitHub developer, @coofcookie. It enables users to do a regular in-place upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 on any computer while bypassing the initial hardware requirement check.
The software is an open-source application with no malicious codes. You can download the source code, check it, and compile it yourself.
It’s important to note that this tool only works with the original installer of the first Windows 11 release, version 21H2. However, you’ll find below my customized ISO images of version 22H2 and 23H2, the latest release, that work with it.
The second method is more organic and suitable for those who want to get the job done without any third-party software or to build a fresh image for multiple-computer deployment.
Let’s start with the in-place upgrade method.
In-place Windows 11 upgrade on unsupported hardware: The A-B-C steps
Here are the detailed A-B-C steps for an in-place upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 or from an earlier release of Windows 11 to a newer one.
A. Prepare the computer
As a rule, back up your system beforehand.
Note that the trick mentioned here only removes Windows 11’s hardware requirements. It doesn’t do anything else and won’t fix any problem.
We’re talking about upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11. If your computer still runs Windows 7 or 8, upgrade to Windows 10 first — there’s no restriction on this front.
For the upgrade to work, your computer must be in a good, error-free state. Even on supported hardware, there can be many issues when upgrading Windows from one release to another. That’s just the nature of the Windows operating system.
If you encounter any issues during an upgrade, the little cabinet below provides some general tips on how to resolve/avoid them.
General tips on Windows upgrade
There are many reasons an upgrade fails, and the best way to find out is via the log files. There are two of them called “setupact.log” and “setuperr.log” generally located in one or both of these locations:
In rare cases, change C:\ to the drive Windows resides.
These log files will help determine what should be done to make your computer upgrade-ready. It’s always case by case.
Generally, here are a few common ways to make upgrading Windows a smooth ride:
- Run Windows Update and update the computers to the latest driver, software, and security patches.
- Remove legacy or unused software and hardware.
- Make sure the drive that holds Windows — C: in most cases — has enough unused storage space. 30GB or more is recommended.
- Disable/remove antivirus software. Close all running programs and restart the computer before initializing the upgrade progress.
- Consider the “Clean install” option — you’ll lose all existing data and applications.
B. Download Windows 11 installer ISO and upgrade tool files
For this post, I created a folder called Win11 on the computer’s desktop. You can create any folder you want. Just make sure you know where it is. But let’s assume that you make the same folder. Now, we need to put the Windows ISO installer file and the upgrade tool’s files into it.
Important note on downloads
Downloadable files mentioned in this post might be freely available elsewhere on the Internet or can be created based on publicly available knowledge and materials.
To prevent abuses and exploits — which have happened and caused this website to crash — files hosted by this website have download restrictions and are available only to the site’s Ko-fi member-only section or this subscriber-exclusive download page.
If you are not a supporter but feel entitled to special treatment, please send us a message with your reasoning; we will consider sending you the files directly.
Getting the right Windows 11 ISO
For the Windows 11 installer file, you have these options:
These are large files that include all editions (Pro, Home, etc.) of Windows. They can take a long time to download and might become corrupted via an unstable connection. All files below are in English. But once the upgrade is finished, you can install a language pack to turn it into a localized version by following these steps: Start > Settings > Time & language > Language & region.
- Windows 11 21H2: Public original ISO file, once available directly from Microsoft. This file will upgrade your Windows 10 computer to Windows 11 21H2. Download links:
- Windows 11 22H2: Customized ISO file. This file has been modified and will upgrade your computer, running Windows 10 or Windows 11 21H2, to Windows 11 22H2. Download links:
- Windows 11 23H2: Customized ISO file. This file has been modified and will upgrade your computer, running Windows 10 or Windows 11 (21H2 or 22H2) to the latest Windows 11 23H2. Download links:
General direction on making customized Windows 11 ISOs
The updating tool mentioned here only works with the installer of Windows 11 version 21H2. Specifically, if you use it with the original ISO file of Windows 22H2 (or newer), you’ll get the same message that your computer is not qualified.
To overcome that, we need to turn a Windows 11 21H2 ISO file into one that will install a newer version of Windows 11 (22H2 or 23H2).
The trick is to replace the former’s main data file or files with those of the latter. The process doesn’t alter the content of any particular file and will not affect how Windows works once installed.
To create the special installer file, you need to have ISO files of both versions, extract the data needed from the newer one, place it in the same location in the 21H2 version, and rebuild the ISO image.
For the below screenshots as a demo, I saved the ISO file in the Win11 folder and used the “Win11_English_x64.iso” name — the .iso portion might not be visible. You can use whichever name you want, including the file’s default, as long as you know what it is.
Download the requirement-bypass upgrade tool
Different versions of the open-source upgrade tool are available on the Internet, including via GitHub. They might or might not work with the steps below — I have no control over them. Here are the download links for the version I’ve used for myself with consistent results:
The tool is a .zip folder. Open it, and you will find four files inside. Drag and drop them all in our Win11 folder.
The Win11 folder now has five files if you have followed the above steps closely, as shown in the screenshot below.
C. Perform the in-place upgrade via the upgrade tool
There are a few steps in this part.
1. Run the upgrade tool
Right-click on the Windows11Upgrade file and choose “Run as Administrator.”
The other three files of the tool need to remain in the same folder, but you won’t need to do anything about them.
Double-clicking on the file to execute it the usual way might not work out in some cases — the upgrade process might stall at some point.
2. Confirm the launch
A confirmation window will pop up. Answer it affirmatively.
Windows might even have more suggestions to ensure you want to make the changes — you might need to click on “More info” first. In any case, make sure you interact with all prompts affirmatively. The objective here is that you want to run the upgrade tool! And it’s safe to do so.
3. Pick the ISO file
Click on the Select Windows 11 ISO file option and navigate to the file you have downloaded the ISO file in step #1. Select it, then click on Open.
Starting September 20, 2022, the tool’s ISO download option no longer works since version 21H2 is no longer available for download from Microsoft.
4. Pick the upgrade option and install Windows 11
Pick the upgrade option of your liking or keep the default Upgrade option and click on Install system.
The “Clean install” option will remove all existing data and software, but it might fix some issues.
And that’s it. You can walk away or mind other business. The upgrade process will progress like a typical Windows feature upgrade, which will restart the computer a few times. After about 30 minutes or so, depending on how fast your computer is, you’ll find yourself a “new” computer running Windows 11 of the version you picked.
How to upgrade to the latest Windows 11 (23H2) without any tools
It’s possible to upgrade an unsupported computer to any version of Windows 11 without using any special tool as long as you have temporary supported hardware, namely a computer that meets all requirements of Windows 11.
In this case, it’s best to use a standard desktop computer. The only requirement is that the unsupported computer uses the same boot method and partition type as the supported one. This is likely already the case.
If you don’t do anything, most Windows computers released in the past decade use GPT partition type, UEFI boot mode (as opposed to the ancient Legacy BIOS mode), and AHCI storage interface. But if there are differences between the two computers on these fronts, adjust those of the unsupported computer accordingly to match the supported one.
You will need to obtain the standard ISO installer file of Windows 11, whichever version you prefer to use.
After that, here are the general directions:
- If you want to upgrade an a computer running Windows 10 or an older version of Windows 11:
- Move the internal boot drive of the unsupported computer to the supported one. When you boot up, the machine will go through a short process of “getting devices ready,” and you’ll be able to log in. (Since this is temporary, there’s no need to reactivate Windows if you’re prompted to do so.)
- Upgrade the supported computer (running the internal drive of the unsupported one) to the Windows 11 version of your choosing. The process will go through with no issues since the hardware meets the requirements.
- Once the upgrade is finished, move the internal drive back to the unsupported computer. Mission accomplished.
- If you don’t need to keep existing data, you can do a fresh installation. In this case:
- Install the Windows 11 version of your choice on the supported computer.
- Make an image using drive cloning software — I’d recommend Macrium Reflect.
- Restore that image on an internal drive, then use that drive on the unsupported hardware (or any computer that you’d like to have a fresh copy of Windows 11 on) — make sure the hardware itself has a digital Windows 10 or 11 license tied to it, or you’ll have to activate it anew. Mission accomplished.
After the upgrade, you’ll also find that Windows 11 is already activated (assuming you’re using a legit version of Windows 10), and all existing software remains the same. Windows 11 is very much an incremental version of Windows 10.
In case it’s not obvious, running Windows 11 on a computer that doesn’t have Secure Boot or Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 means any feature or function of the OS relating to those two will not be available.
Unless you have a specific need, there’s nothing to be concerned about, and in my opinion, the lack of these two features doesn’t affect the computer’s day-to-day operation. I’ve never used them, and virtually all Mac computers don’t even have TPM.
Windows 11 will work on the old hardware just like you use it on newer and qualified hardware, and you can update it to regular security and improvement patches. However, the tricks mentioned here are the only ways to advance to future feature releases.
Again, if your current computer runs Windows 10 (64-bit), it can run Windows 11. If you can install it the “official” way, great! If not, there’s this way.
Of course, you can get a new computer and install Windows 11 on it — chances are it already comes with Windows 11 — the way Microsoft (and its hardware partners) would love you to do, and I have nothing against it.
But if you have hardware that’s still good, it’s always better for the environment and our wallets not to consume more than necessary.