Bypassing the Gatekeeper: Windows 11 Recall Feature Unlocked on Unsupported Hardware

Microsoft’s grand unveiling of Copilot Plus PCs, boasting exclusive AI features like Recall, seemed like a strategic move to push new hardware. However, within a fortnight, the tide has turned. Tech-savvy individuals have successfully bypassed the limitations, enabling Windows 11 Recall to function on unsupported hardware.

Windows 11 Recall Runs on Older Windows on Arm Devices

Recall, the centerpiece of the Copilot Plus PC experience, leverages on-device artificial intelligence models to continuously capture screenshots of your PC activity in the background. Imagine a digital filing cabinet that sorts through everything you’ve done on your computer, meticulously keeping track of photos you’ve edited, documents you’ve created, conversations you’ve had, and any other past interactions. This treasure trove of information is then transformed into a searchable timeline. Using natural language queries, you can effortlessly locate any specific detail you need, eliminating the frustration of sifting through folders and files.

While Microsoft positioned Windows 11 Recall as reliant on the latest Neural Processing Units (NPUs), a clever workaround has emerged, allowing it to function on older Arm-powered devices. This is where Amperage, a tool created by the well-known Windows community figure Albacore, comes into play. Amperage acts as a key that unlocks and activates Recall on devices equipped with older Qualcomm Snapdragon chips, Microsoft’s SQ processors, or Ampere chipsets. It’s important to note that currently, this functionality is restricted to Windows on Arm machines that have the latest Windows 11 24H2 update installed.

windows 11 recall

Will Windows 11 Recall Come to Standard PCs?

The success with Windows on Arm devices paves the way for a potential domino effect. With AMD and Intel expected to join the Copilot Plus party soon, we can anticipate Windows 11 Recall functionality being unlocked more extensively in the coming months. The current limitation lies in the absence of Microsoft’s AI components for the x86 architecture (the dominant architecture for most PCs).

While technically, you can unlock Windows 11 Recall on x86 devices, it remains dormant without the x64 AI components necessary for operation. Rumors suggest announcements from AMD and Intel regarding Copilot Plus PCs are imminent, and these announcements might be accompanied by Microsoft releasing the corresponding AI components. To test the initial experience, this author successfully ran Windows 11 Recall on an x64 Windows 11 virtual machine, highlighting its potential.

The unlocking of Windows 11 Recall on x86 devices, even in a limited capacity, throws a wrench into Microsoft’s strategy. If Microsoft intends for Windows 11 Recall to be a marquee feature of Copilot Plus PCs, it needs to act fast. With AMD and Intel poised to enter the fray, Microsoft faces a decision: release the x64 AI components and potentially dilute the appeal of Copilot Plus PCs, or find another way to differentiate these new machines. The coming months will likely reveal Microsoft’s next move, but one thing is certain: the days of Windows 11 Recall being exclusive to new hardware seem numbered.

Beyond Windows 11 Recall: Backporting AI Features and the NPU Debate

The ability to run Windows 11 Recall on older Arm hardware sparks a crucial question: Why is Microsoft restricting this and other AI-powered Windows features to new devices with NPUs exceeding 40 trillion operations per second (TOPS)?

Microsoft’s stance likely revolves around establishing a performance baseline for future AI experiences beyond the current offerings like Windows 11 Recall, Image Cocreator, and others showcased last week. Additionally, it ensures these features leverage a dedicated NPU, preventing them from hogging CPU and GPU resources and draining battery life.

However, a more pragmatic perspective emerges when considering the true purpose of Copilot Plus PCs. This initiative appears to be a strategic move by Microsoft and its hardware partners to drive sales of new devices, capitalizing on IDC’s prediction of PC market growth fueled by AI capabilities.

In conclusion, the successful unlocking of Windows 11 Recall on unsupported hardware throws a wrench into Microsoft’s exclusivity plans. As the dust settles, we wait to see how Microsoft responds to this development and its implications for the future of AI-powered features in Windows.