Windows 11 is on the way, and if you’re already a Windows 10 user, it will be free to upgrade to Microsoft’s newly redesigned operating system, the company said in a blog post after its virtual event Thursday (see everything announced at the Windows 11 event here). So long as your PC meets the minimum requirements, you’ll be able to update to Windows 11 the same way you usually update to new versions of Windows 10, once it starts rolling out during the 2021 holiday season.
To see if your current Windows 10 PC is eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11, visit Windows.com to download the PC Health Check app, the post said. And if you buy a new PC between now and the general release, that computer will also be eligible for the free upgrade.
If you haven’t updated to Windows 10 yet, don’t worry — there’s a trick for downloading Windows 10 free that still works. Now would be a good time to make the switch to prepare your machine for the Windows 11 upgrade.
Minimum system requirements to install Windows 11
Minimum system requirements
||1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
||4 GB RAM
||64 GB or larger storage device
||UEFI, Secure Boot capable
||Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
||DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x
||>9” with HD Resolution (720p)
||Microsoft account and internet connectivity required for setup for Windows 11 Home
Certain features require specific hardware, see detailed system requirements.
How to download Windows 11, once it’s available
Once Windows 11 becomes available, you’ll download it the same way you would with any new version of Windows. Most users will go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and clicking Check for Updates. If available, you’ll see Feature update to Windows 11. Click Download and install.
If you want to test out Windows 11 ahead of time, an early beta version will be available next week for those in the Windows Insider Program, and a public beta will be released in July. However, we only recommend installing a beta if you have a second tester device — not on your main device, as there are likely to be bugs.
Windows 11 features a streamlined new design, with pastel-like colors, rounded corners, a new startup sound and overall a more Mac-like look. The Windows Start menu has moved from the bottom left of the screen to the middle, with app icons arranged in the center next to it. You’ll also find widgets that give you information on the weather, stocks, news and more. And Android apps will be integrated into Windows and installable from the Microsoft Store.
The update marks the first major change to Microsoft’s operating system since Windows 10 launched back in 2015. Rumors about a major Windows redesign have been circulating for the past year. At the Microsoft Build developers conference on May 25, CEO Satya Nadella said Microsoft was planning “one of the most significant updates of Windows of the past decade,” confirming that a major change was on the horizon for the 1.3 billion users of the OS in 2021. And in mid-June, Microsoft quietly announced that it would end support for Windows 10 in 2025 as leaked images of Windows 11 spread.
Windows 11 will include a new UI, with a Start menu overhaul, performance improvements, and updates to improve multitasking. It even includes access to Android apps through Amazon’s Appstore.
We weren’t expecting Microsoft to charge people to update to Windows 11, particularly as the company makes most of its Windows revenue through commercial and OEM licenses. Still, it’s good news for consumers with Windows 10 devices that the next version of Windows 11 will be available free of charge.
While Microsoft hasn’t shared an exact release date, the company says “Windows 11 will be available through a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs beginning this holiday.”
Frequently asked questions about Windows 11
What’s the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11?
Windows 11 has all the power and security of Windows 10 with a redesigned and refreshed look. It also comes with new tools, sounds, and apps. Every detail has been considered. All of it comes together to bring you a refreshing experience on your PC.
When can I buy a PC that comes with Windows 11 pre-installed?
PCs with Windows 11 pre-installed will be available later this year.
How much does a PC with Windows 11 cost?
It depends! Many different manufacturers will offer a variety of devices that will run Windows 11, all at different price points.
Where can I buy a PC with Windows 11?
PCs that come with Windows 11 pre-installed will be available from a broad selection of retailers later this year. Details to come.
Will my accessories work with Windows 11?
If your accessories worked with Windows 10 and meet the Windows 11 requirements, they should work with Windows 11. If you want to be sure, please check with your accessory manufacturer.
I want to buy a PC now, will I be able to install Windows 11 later?
How do I know if a new Windows 10 PC meets the minimum requirements?
There are a few ways to find out. If you’re currently shopping for a new PC look for “Free upgrade to Windows 11” on the fact tag. You can also ask your retail sales professional to confirm.
When will I be able to upgrade to Windows 11 on my Windows 10 device?
If your existing Windows 10 PC is running the most current version of Windows 10 and meets the minimum hardware specifications it will be able to upgrade to Windows 11. The upgrade rollout plan is still being finalized, but for most devices already in use today, we expect it to be ready sometime in early 2022. Not all Windows 10 PCs that are eligible to upgrade to Windows 11 will be offered to upgrade at the same time. To see if your PC is eligible to upgrade, download and run the PC Health Check app. Once the upgrade rollout has started, you can check if it is ready for your device by going to Settings/Windows Updates. Windows 11 is a free upgrade
What are the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11?
How do I know if my current Windows 10 PC meets the hardware requirements for Windows 11?
What if my PC doesn’t meet the minimum hardware specifications? Can I stay on Windows 10?
Yes! Windows 10 continues to be a great version of Windows. We have committed to supporting Windows 10 through October 14, 2025.
How will I know when the upgrade is available for my Windows 10 PC?
Upgrades to Windows 11 will begin to roll out late in 2021 and continue into 2022. During this time, we will be doing some behind-the-scenes testing and validating for your specific PC. Windows Update will provide an indication if and when your PC is eligible. You can check by going to Settings/Windows Update.
How much does it cost to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11?
It’s free. But only Windows 10 PCs that are running the most current version of Windows 10 and meet the minimum hardware specifications will be able to upgrade. You can check to see if you have the latest updates for Windows 10 in Settings/Windows Update.
What is the difference between upgrade and update?
An update can consist of bug and security fixes and new features in a version of Windows. They tend to roll out throughout the year. An upgrade is when you change versions—for example, moving from Windows 10 to Windows 11, or moving editions from Windows Home to Windows Pro.
How long will the free upgrade offer last?
The free upgrade offer does not have a specific end date for eligible systems. However, Microsoft reserves the right to eventually end support for the free offer. This end date will be no sooner than one year from general availability.
Can I continue to use Windows 10?
Yes. You do not have to upgrade to Windows 11. We will continue to support Windows 10 until October 14, 2025.
Does Windows 11 take up more space on my PC than Windows 10?
No. Windows 11 and Windows 10 require approximately the same amount of disk space. During the upgrade process, however, extra space is required. Windows will clean up this extra disk space about 10 days after the upgrade is complete.
Is Windows 11 a Windows 10 replacement?
Windows 11 is the newest version of Windows. However, we will continue to support Windows 10 until October 2025.
If I upgrade to Windows 11, what will happen to my files?
Can I go back to Windows 10 after I upgrade if I don’t like Windows 11?
Yes. After you have installed the Windows 11 upgrade, there is a 10-day period where you can move back to Windows 10 while keeping files and data that you brought along with you. After the 10 days, you will need to back up your data and do a “clean install” to move back to Windows 10.
How long does it take to install Windows 11?
Downloading and installing Windows 11 will most likely take longer than a typical Windows 10 feature update. You can use your PC while you’re downloading Windows 11 and then you have the option to schedule the install to happen at a specific time when you aren’t planning on using your PC.
Can I upgrade my Windows 10 PC to Windows 11 if I’m running S mode?
If your PC meets the minimum hardware specifications, the Windows 10 Home edition in S mode can upgrade to the Windows 11 Home edition in S mode. If your Windows 10 PC is running the Pro edition in S mode, you will need to switch out of S mode to upgrade to Windows 11 Pro. Windows 11 Pro edition is not available in S mode.
Can a really old PC run Windows 11?
You can use the PC Health Check app to determine if your device is eligible to upgrade to Windows 11. Many PCs that are less than four years old will be able to upgrade to Windows 11. They must be running the most current version of Windows 10 and meet the minimum hardware requirements.
Where can I find more information about Windows 11 for my business?