Windows 11 may slap a watermark on PCs that can’t handle AI features

AI requires a lot of horsepower.

Windows 11 logo with a red background.

Microsoft is just months away from going all-in on AI. Windows 11 24H2 introduces a range of artificial intelligence-driven features that will drive the operating system’s hardware requirements even higher. If you don’t meet the correct specs, reports suggest you might need to live with a watermark on your screen.

Alongside PopCnt (popular count) support, it looks like Microsoft is making SSE4.2 instructions mandatory to install the new update. Processors that lack these crucial elements won’t be able to boot into Windows 11’s upcoming update. That includes those sneaky enough to try bypassing the checks. This isn’t much of an issue. Most CPUs that meet Windows 11’s initial Trusted Platform Module (TPM) gate can handle both.

It might not be enough just to pass the bar, however. Even if your system can run the new update, it might not be able to use all its features. Digging into the code, Albacore on X (via Neowin) uncovered that AI File Explorer will check for 16GB of RAM at minimum. If your PC or laptop doesn’t have the muscle, Windows 11 will serve up a warning in its overlay. You can disable ID 48486440 to prevent the warning from appearing, but we don’t know whether this bypass will make it into a live build.

Albacore discusses Microsoft Windows 11 24H2 code findings on X.
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AI File Explorer, also known as Advanced Copilot, is a replacement for Cortana, which Microsoft axed last year. It should, hopefully, redefine how we use File Explorer, but I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen it for myself.

I’m more excited for DirectX AI Super Resolution, which is an upscaler that goes beyond gaming and should hopefully benefit all apps. I don’t expect DLSS 3.5 levels of refinement from a fledgling OS-baked approach but it’s promising nonetheless.

The first stages of Windows 11 24H2 should be available soon, as they’ll be available on Snapdragon X Elite devices before a wider rollout. This might not be the full update, mind you, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to see the true AI capabilities. Just keep in mind that current customisation apps won’t work with the new version.