Analyst firm Canalys has reported a staggering projection that up to 240 million personal computers risk becoming electronic waste following the expiration of free support for Windows 10 in October 2025. Microsoft has announced that while paid assistance will be available until October 2028, it is probable that customers will find upgrading their systems to be the more economical choice. This revelation casts a shadow over Microsoft's environmental reputation, as many functioning PCs could be discarded prematurely.
Hardware Compatibility Issues with Windows 11
When Microsoft launched Windows 11, the company implemented a new security mandate necessitating computers to incorporate TPM 2.0 support. A significant number of systems predating Windows 11 do not meet this criterion and are therefore ineligible for the upgrade. Given the choice to adapt to newer hardware, analysts predict a substantial increase in electronic waste due to the inability of many current PCs to comply with the new standard, even though they may operate without issue.
Alternatives and Solutions for Outdated PCs
For users with PCs incompatible with TPM 2.0, options exist to reduce the potential impact on landfills. Transitioning to alternative operating systems such as Linux Mint or Ubuntu presents a viable solution. These Linux distributions typically offer seamless operation and can be effortlessly installed via a USB drive, generally within 30 minutes. As modern computing increasingly transitions online, the gap left by the absence of Windows-specific applications on Linux has become negligible.
Before disposing of a computer destined for landfill, it is prudent to salvage components like hard drives and memory—an action that benefits both the environment and the owner. Encasing hard drives in an external chassis transforms them into useful external storage devices. Similarly, extracted memory modules may enhance or upgrade other compatible systems, or these components might be sold to recoup some value.
For prospective buyers, exploring discount outlets for PCs can yield significant savings while supporting venues offering such deals at no cost to readers, as exemplified by Neowin's deals page. As the industry grapples with environmental sustainability and consumer electronics life cycles, Microsoft's Windows 11 transition underscores the broader challenges of balancing technological progress with ecological responsibility.