Microsoft is right to brand Windows 11 hackers with a scarlet watermark

When Microsoft released Windows 11, there was pretty much universal acclaim for the operating system. Even yours truly (primarily a Linux user) found the new version to be quite good. Despite all the positivity, however, many consumers were dismayed to learn their computers were not compatible with Windows 11. Microsoft had programmed the installer to check for certain hardware, including TPM chips, and stop the installation if requirements were not met.

Of course, some skeptics claimed that these strict system requirements were merely a scheme to increase PC sales. You know what? Maybe sales did factor into Microsoft’s motivations. So what? The thing is, Microsoft controls Windows 11, and the company can rightfully make the system requirements to be whatever it wants (and for any reason). Sorry, folks, but that is a fact. Don’t like it? Switch to Linux.

Sadly, some users chose not to switch to Linux (or stay on Windows 10), instead choosing to use hacks to get Windows 11 running on unsupported hardware. Not surprisingly, many of these “unsupported” computers appear to run Windows 11 perfectly fine. Microsoft has even been pushing out OS updates to these hacked machines — even though it isn’t required to. Kudos to Microsoft for going above and beyond.

But now, Microsoft has decided to to brand Windows 11 hackers with a “scarlet letter” by way of a watermark on the desktop. Without fail, people have been complaining on the internet about this watermark, saying it is annoying. Hackers have already discovered a way to hide the watermark, but Microsoft will surely close that workaround in future updates.

I am probably in the minority here, but I think this much-maligned watermark is actually a good thing, and I am glad Microsoft is branding hackers with it. No, I don’t think it’s good to annoy people, but I do think the watermark is good for technical support representatives — especially with BYOD (bring your own device) and WFH (work from home) being so popular these days.

Let’s say a user is experiencing bugs while running Windows 11, so a tech support person decides to remote into the user’s workstation to investigate. By immediately seeing this watermark (and knowing to check for it), the rep can avoid wasting time by troubleshooting an unsupported machine. Instead, they can advise the user to obtain a computer that is compatible with Windows 11 or roll back to Windows 10. The watermark should be very obvious (right on the desktop as it is) — as a benefit to IT departments, repair shops, and warranty companies.

Look, folks, even though an unsupported PC seems to run Windows 11 fine at first, when bugs or issues arise, the user should not expect other people to troubleshoot that computer for them. “Unsupported” means exactly that! And those that hack Windows 11 to run on unsupported hardware should be left to feel lonely and alone. They deserve the scarlet letter Microsoft has branded them with.

Image credit: alphaspirit/

Author: Martha Meyer