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I have three Intel Macs which have Windows 10 Pro installed. Windows is activated with a digital license linked to my Microsoft account. All three Macs also have macOS High Sierra or newer installed. This means the firmware in each Mac is capable of UEFI booting from ExFAT formatted volumes on GPT or MBR partitioned drives.

Some additional relevant specifications for these Macs is given in the table below.

Specification iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011)1 iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013) Mac mini (Late 2018)
Model Identifier iMac12,1 iMac14,3 Macmini8,1
Memory 16 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 8 GB 2666 MHz DDR4
Windows Boot Method 64 bit BIOS 64 bit UEFI 64 bit UEFI
Type of Partitioning GPT/MBR Hybrid GPT GPT
Internal Drive 500 GB SATA HDD 1 TB SATA HDD 256 GB PCIe SSD
Processor2 "Second Generation" 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 "Sandy Bridge" (I5-2400S) "Fourth Generation" 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5 "Haswell" (I5-4570S) "8th Generation" 3.0 GHz Intel Mobile Core i5 "Coffee Lake" (I5-8500B)
Cores 4 4 6
T2 Security Chip3 No No Yes
Graphics Card DirectX 12 Compatible with WDDM 1.0 Driver DirectX 12 Compatible with WDDM 1.3 Driver DirectX 12 Compatible with WDDM 2.0 Driver
Display4 1920x1280 (1080p) 1920x1280 (1080p) 1920x1280 (1080p)
Keyboard Wired Apple A1048 Wireless Apple A1314 Wired Apple A1048
Mouse Wired Logitech M110 Wireless Apple A1296 Wired Logitech M110

1 Windows 10 Pro was installed using this answer.
2 Only the Mac mini (Late 2018) has a Windows 11 compatible processor.
3 A T2 security chip implies secure boot. No Intel Mac models have a TPM.
4 All displays are assumed to be at least 9” diagonally and have at least 8 bits per color channel.

None of these Macs meet all of the Windows 11 minimum system requirements given below.

Hardware/Software Minimum System Requirement
Processor 1 GHz or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC).
RAM 4 GB.
Storage 64 GB or larger storage device.
System firmware UEFI, Secure Boot capable.
TPM Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0.
Graphics card Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver.
Display High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per color channel.

Microsoft has publish the article Ways to install Windows 11. Under the heading "Other ways to install Windows 11 (not recommended)" there is a method which is repeated below.

Create an image install

Use DISM or 3rd party tools to directly apply an existing Windows 11 image to the disk.

Important: An image install of Windows 11 will not check for the following requirements: TPM 2.0 (at least TPM 1.2 is required) and CPU family and model.

I have the following related questions:

  • Is it possible to do a clean install of the current Windows 11 Pro release (Version 22H2) on any of these Macs by using the method above? In other words, reformat the Windows 10 volume and install Windows 11 Pro.
  • Will Windows 11 be automatically activated for free?
  • Can the install be done with only tools provide by Microsoft and Apple? In other words, without the use of any other 3rd party tools from URLs that are not Microsoft or Apple.
  • Does the WDDM driver for Windows 11 (Version 22H2) have to be at least 2.0?
  • Does the Mac have to have a Windows 11 (Version 22H2) compatible 64-bit processor?
  • Can the latest release of the Windows Support Software (Boot Camp Support Software) provided by Apple for each Mac be used?

1 Answer 1

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Answers to the Questions

  • A clean install of the current Windows 11 Pro release (Version 22H2) is possible for all three Macs.

  • Activation will occur automatically after an administrator account linked to the same Microsoft account used for Windows 10 is added. In other words, Windows 11 can be activated for free.

  • The install can be done with only tools provide by Microsoft and Apple. No software needs to be downloaded from URLs other than those used by Microsoft and Apple.

  • I have a machine with Windows 11 Pro installed. The Direct X Diagnostic Tool (dxdiag.exe) reports WDDM 2.0. However, when I use Microsoft Remote Desktop to access the same machine from another machine, the Direct X Diagnostic Tool reports WDDM 1.3. So, I conclude Windows 11 must to some degree be designed to accept a WDDM driver that is less than 2.0.

  • When dealing with processor compatible issues consider the following. The table below was constructed using Microsoft's Windows Client Edition Processors table and and Apple's websites pertaining to Windows 7, 8.1 and 10.

    iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011) iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013) Mac mini (Late 2018)
    Procesor I5-2400S I5-4570S I5-8500B
    Compatible Windows Editions according to Microsoft none Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 1607 Windows 10 1709 through Windows 11 version 22H2
    Compatible Windows Editions according to Apple 32 bit Windows 7 and
    64 bit Windows 7/8.1
    64 bit Windows 7/8.1/10 64 bit Windows 10
    Compatible Windows Home or Pro Editions according to both Microsoft and Apple none none All since model's introduction date

    For both iMacs, there are many Windows editions which Apple states are compatible. Yet, Microsoft states the Mac's processor would not be compatible. From this, I conclude that just because Microsoft states a Mac's processor is not compatible does not absolutely mean Windows 11 Home or Pro editions can not be installed on the Mac.

  • The latest release of the Windows Support Software provided by Apple for each Mac should used to install Windows 11. In this case, the software is probably different for each of the three Macs. To be sure of using the latest version of the Window Support Software for a given Mac, the software should be downloaded by using the Boot Camp Assistant on the given Mac.

    Actually, the Windows Support Software for any Intel Mac can be downloaded from Apple by using virtually any machine with OS X, macOS, Windows or Linux installed. However, the procedures for do so are beyond the scope of this answer.
     
    Note: Do to a faulty assumption made by the author Tim Sutton, Brigadier does not always provide the most current version of the Windows Support Software for a given Mac.

Installation Procedure

This procedure makes the following assumptions. If any of these assumptions are not true for your Mac, then post a comment or ask a new question referencing this post.

  • If Windows uses the UEFI method, then on the drive where Windows is installed, the first partition must be the EFI partition where the Windows boot files are stored. (See below for how to determine the boot method.)
  • There is not a separate partition for the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE, WinRE or WRE).

The steps for installing Windows 11 are given below.

  1. Determine the Windows 10 boot method:

    Note: Windows 11 should be installed to use the same boot method as Windows 10.

    If the boot method is already know, then proceed to the next step. Windows 10 will be using either a BIOS or UEFI boot method. The method can be confirmed by the location of the BCD file. For a BIOS booting Windows 10, the hidden BCD file can be found in the hidden Boot folder on the NTFS formatted volume labeled BOOTCAMP. This location can be checked from macOS or Windows by using the commands below.

    • From macOS:
      ls /Volumes/BOOTCAMP/Boot/BCD
      
    • From Windows:
      dir /a:h c:\Boot\BCD
      

    If the BCD file is not found, then the UEFI boot method can be assumed. Or, UEFI booting can be confirmed by verifying the existence of the file EFI/Microsoft/Boot/BCD on the unmounted FAT32 formatted volume in the EFI system partition.

  2. Create an USB flash drive installer: Start by downloading the latest Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO) file. For the example given in this answer, the "English (United States)" language was chosen, which resulted in the file Win11_22H2_English_x64v1.iso being downloaded.

    Note: Using the Media Creation Tool can result in the download of a different ISO file. This answer was only tested using the ISO file downloaded without using the Media Creation Tool.

    Also, use the Boot Camp Assistant to download the Windows Support Software for your Mac. This should be done from the same Mac where Windows 11 is to be installed. Copy the contents of both downloads to a MBR partitioned, ExFAT formatted USB flash drive labeled W11Install. If there is a file named AutoUnattend.xml, then renamed this file NoAutoUnattend.xml. Below is a macOS High Sierra Finder view of the files and folders in the root folder of this flash drive for the 2011 and 2013 iMacs. (Note: The Windows Support Software for the 2018 Mac mini does not have a file named AutoUnattend.xml.)

    Finder

  3. Open a Command Prompt window:

    If the Mac has a T2 chip, then make sure the Mac is allowed to external boot.

    UEFI boot from the USB flash drive, by restarting the Mac and immediately holding down the option key until the Mac Startup Manager icons appear.

    Note: To proceed at least the keyboard or mouse needs to work. If both are wireless and fail, then you will need to find at least one working wired keyboard or mouse. If the keyboard only fails, then use an on-screen keyboard. If the mouse only fails, then navigate using the keyboard. Once in Audit Mode you can pair the failed wireless keyboard and/or mouse.

    Select the external drive icon labeled EFI Boot. Proceed with the installation until the window shown below appears.

    Note: Reaching this window causes drivers in the $WinPEDriver$ folder to be automatically loaded.

    Next, select the red button with the white X or press the key combination option+F4. In the popup, select the Yes button. Next, select "Repair your computer", "Troubleshoot" and "Command Prompt", in the order given. This opens a Command Prompt window titled "Administrator: X:\windows\SYSTEM32\cmd.exe".

  4. Install a clean Windows 11 Pro from the flash drive:

    The table below shows the drive letters assume by this answer to be assigned to the following volumes.

    Ltr Label Fs Description
    C BOOTCAMP NTFS Volume where Windows 10 is installed. Label shown is the default assigned when the Windows Support Software is installed. There also could be a different label or no label.
    D W11Install exFAT Volume on USB flash drive containing the Windows 11 installation files and folders.

    Note: If either these volumes on your Mac are assigned different drive letters, then make the appropriate drive letter substitutions when entering the following commands.

    Enter the following commands to format drive C: and (if necessary) assign the drive letter S: to the volume in the EFI partition.

    diskpart
    list volume
    select volume c
    format fs=ntfs label=BOOTCAMP quick
    
    • If using the UEFI boot method, then enter the following commands.
      select partition 1
      assign letter=s
      

    Enter the command below to exit the diskpart command.

    exit
    

    Enter the following commands to copy files to drive D:, where Windows 11 is to be installed. Here, /index:6 was used to select the installation of Windows 11 Pro. Use the output from the first command below to determine which index you should enter, then (if necessary) make the appropriate substitution when entering the second command.

    dism /get-imageinfo /imagefile:d:\sources\install.wim
    dism /apply-image /imagefile:d:\sources\install.wim /index:6 /applydir:c:\
    dism /image:c:\ /add-driver /driver:d:\$WinPEDriver$ /recurse /forceunsigned
    

    Choose to enter the following commands to install any necessary boot data, files and folders.

    • For BIOS booting:
      bcdboot c:\windows /s c: /f bios
      bootsect /nt60 c: /mbr
      
    • For UEFI booting:
      cd /d s:\efi
      rd /s boot
      rd /s microsoft
      bcdboot c:\windows /s s: /f uefi
      

    Choose either method given below to shut down the Mac.

    • Enter the command below to close the Command Prompt window.
      exit
      
      Next, select "Turn off your PC" to shut down the Mac.
    • Enter the command below to shut down the Mac.
      c:\windows\system32\shutdown /s /t 0
      
  5. Boot to Audit Mode: First, leave the Mac disconnected from internet. From the Mac Startup Manager, select to boot Windows from the internal drive as the default. (In other words, hold down the control key when selecting Windows.) After booting to Windows 11 on the internal drive, enter Audit Mode (by pressing the key combination control+shift+F3).

  6. Install the Windows Support Software and updates from the internet:

    If there are any unpaired wireless devices (such as a keyboard or mouse), then pair these devices before or after installing the Windows Support Software and rebooting.

    Open D:\BootCamp\setup.exe to install the Windows Support Software. When asked, do not restart the Mac. Instead, connect the Mac to the internet and open the Apple Software Update application. Update Apple Software Update before updating any other items. Apple Software Update may need to be updated more than once. When the are no more updates to Apple Software Update, install the other updates, which will probably include one or more updates to Boot Camp. Do not restart the Mac until all updates have been made. Afterwards, restart the Mac. Finally, install all updates (including optional updates) offered by Windows Update, which may require restarting the Mac one or more times.

    Note: If the file D:\NoAutoUnattend.xml exists, then you may elect to examine the file to see if Apple intended to have other files execute before D:\BootCamp\setup.exe. When testing this answer, I did not elect to do this.

  7. Leave Audit Mode and setup the Mac for the Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE): From the the System Preparation Tool, select the options as shown below, then select the OK button.

    System Preparation Tool

  8. Finish the installation: Turn on the Mac and followed the instructions. Among other tasks, this step will create your user account.

Activation

Windows 10 was activated before installing Windows 11. The result was an automatically activated Windows 11, as shown below. In other words, I upgraded for free.

Activation

References

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