We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Windows 11 will give your PC a mark of shame if it can’t run AI apps

A new Windows 11 update looks set to add watermarks to PCs that can't support the latest AI-enabled apps, such as AI Explorer and CoPilot.

windows 11 update ai explorer watermark

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the world at large is intent on shovelling more and more AI down our throats, now Microsoft looks set to outright shame gaming PCs running Windows 11 that don’t support the latest AI apps. New code analysis for the upcoming Windows 11 24H2 update shows that PCs will be marked with a warning that certain new AI features aren’t supported.

Precisely how this gaming PC warning will be shown isn’t clear, as the analysis is only of the code, without any hints of the design Microsoft is adding to these Windows 11 elements. Nonetheless, it is evident that users will be left in no doubt that they’re missing out.

The news comes via X/Twitter user Albacore, who dug through the code for the upcoming build 26200 (reported to be the big 24H2 update arriving this summer) and found lines of code that refer to the big new all-encompassing AI app, AI explorer, that’s arriving with this update. In this code it shows that the app will check system requirements and show a warning if hardware compatibility isn’t there.

As to what the hardware is that’s required for compatibility, the crucial addition will be neural processing units (NPUs). These arrived in Intel’s recent Meteor Lake CPUs and AMD’s 8000G desktop parts but they’re still largely quite a rare feature.

It’s not clear if generalized GPU cores or specialized cores such as Nvidia’s Tensor cores will also allow for support of AI functions. This is despite these chips widely being used to power many high-level AI systems.

The features of AI Explorer sound impressively powerful. Specifically, it’s expected to largely run as a background app, capturing data on everything you do with your PC. It will then allow you to recall and interact with all this data in a natural language manner.

For instance, it might read your emails, your browsing history and your WhatsApp messages then you can use the app to ask for a summation of the emails you received today or what the name of the website you were browsing earlier was.

There’s no doubting how useful this could be but it will also require a lot of data storage,  will take up system resources, and raise data protection concerns. As such, we’re quite sure many users will opt out of it.

In terms of data protection, this actually ties in with the need for hardware support as the whole idea will be that the processing is done locally – none of you data is shared to the cloud. That’s in contrast to most existing AI services that have been trained on public online data and are accessed through online portals. If you system doesn’t have the required processer to accelerate these processes efficiently, though, the AI Explorer experience will be slow and less than intelligent-feeling.

Precisely what we can expect from Windows 11 24H2 remains to be seen but it will certainly be an interesting inflection point in the uptake of AI in our lives. Will you be steering clear or embracing your new AI-enhanced future? Whatever the answer, access to fast storage via a new SSD is always a great upgrade so check out our best SSD guide for a latest recommendations.