Windows 11 (version 21H2) is officially available for download as a free upgrade for eligible devices starting October 5, 2021. This launch marks the first release of a new version of the OS that introduces an overhauled interface, and several new features focus on security and productivity.
Although Microsoft is already rolling out the new version through Windows Update, not every device will get it immediately since it will take months until Windows 11 becomes fully available.
However, if you have a computer that meets the minimum system requirements, there are many other ways to download Windows 11 to upgrade or perform an in-place upgrade.
In this guide, you will learn the many different ways to download Windows 11 to perform an in-place or clean installation.
The Installation Assistant is a tool designed to perform an in-place upgrade on computers already running Windows 10. The tool works exactly like Windows Update, with the difference that you don’t have to wait. Once you launch the setup, the Installation Assistant will check the system compatibility. If the computer meets all the requirements, you can click the install button to proceed with the upgrade preserving your files, settings, and apps.
Windows 11 ISO file
In the past, you needed to use workarounds to get the ISO file for Windows, but now, Microsoft is providing a direct link to get the image with the Windows 11 installation files. Once you download the ISO file, you can mount it in File Explorer to begin the upgrade process, or you can use it to install Windows 11 on a virtual machine.
Media Creation Tool
The Media Creation Tool is the official tool to create a USB bootable media to perform a clean install of Windows 11.
The app used to include the option to perform an in-place upgrade, but it has now been updated to be a tool only to create a USB bootable or download the ISO file.
In addition to the official tools, you can use a few other utilities to download the Windows 11 installation files and create a USB bootable media, and the most popular is called Rufus.
Similar to the official Media Creation Tool, Rufus not only allows you to create a USB installation media, but it does it faster, and you can even prepare a USB drive with an older version of Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. Also, starting with version 3.16, there’s an “Extended” option to create a USB flash drive that bypasses the security and memory requirements.
MediaCreationTool.bat is an open-source wrapper script that allows you to download the latest to the oldest version of Windows 11 or 10 to create a USB flash drive, ISO file, or you can use it to auto-start the upgrade process.
The tool even includes a script to modify the Registry to bypass the TPM 2.0, Secure Boot, CPU, and other requirements that may prevent you from upgrading your computer to Windows 11.
Custom Windows 11 USB flash drive
You can create a Windows 11 USB bootable media with many tools, including Media Creation Tool, Rufus, and MediaCreationTool.bat, but you can also create a bootable media using DiskPart from Command Prompt. However, you will still need to download the Windows 11 ISO file manually first.
Whichever tool you choose to download the installation files, you want to prepare your computer to ensure a successful upgrade. For example, you want to make sure that your computer is compatible and enable TPM and Secure Boot. It’s also recommended to create a full backup in case you need to roll back, free up space, uninstall apps, disconnect non-essential peripherals, and more.
If you need to enable Secure Boot, but you first need to switch the firmware mode from BIOS to UEFI, you first need to convert the drive from MBR to GPT. Otherwise, the device won’t boot anymore.