If you’re hoping to upgrade to the latest version of Windows, you’ll need to ensure your computer has a Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Originally released on Oct. 5, 2011, Windows 11 is the latest version of Microsoft’s signature operating system (OS). Statistics show that it now accounts for over 13% of all desktop OSs. Windows 11, however, has hardware requirements, one of which is a TPM.

What Is a TPM?

A TPM is a computer chip or microcontroller that provides cryptographic security for computer hardware. It uses cryptographic keys to authenticate computer hardware.

When most people think of cybersecurity solutions, they envision software. Antivirus software and firewalls, for instance, typically consist of software. You can install antivirus software and a firewall to protect your computer from cyber threats. But there are hardware-based cybersecurity solutions as well. TPMs fall under this category. All TPMs are computer chips or microcontrollers that provide cryptographic security for computer hardware.

Why Windows 11 Requires a TPM

Windows 11 requires a TPM for security purposes. When announcing this requirement, Microsoft explained that it helps to protect against ransomware and firmware attacks.

Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common. Nearly one in three global businesses say they were the victim of a ransomware attack in 2021. Ransomware involves the deployment of malware that locks and restricts file access while demanding a ransom payment. If your computer is infected with ransomware, you won’t be able to access the stored files until you pay the ransom. Even then, the ransomware may remain, meaning you still won’t be able to access the stored files.

Firmware attacks are cyber attacks that target the firmware of a computer. They leverage backdoor code so that hackers can bypass the computer’s conventional cybersecurity solutions. By making TPM a requirement, Windows 11 offers a higher level of security than other OSs. It offers protection against ransomware, firmware attacks and other cyber threats.

What About Older Versions of Windows?

Older versions of Windows don’t require a TPM. Some of them support the use of a TPM, but it’s not a prerequisite for installation. You can install an older version of Windows on your computer, regardless of whether your computer has a TPM.

Some of the older versions of Windows support a TPM. You can use a TPM with Windows 7 and WIndows 10, for example. Nonetheless, a TPM isn’t a requirement for older versions of Windows. You only need a TPM if you intend to use Windows 11, which is the latest version of Microsoft’s signature OS.