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How to upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1

Yes, you can upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1 while keeping your files and apps during the process, and here's how to do it.

Upgrade to Windows 11 from 8.1
  • To upgrade to Windows 11 from 8.1 mount ISO > launch Setup.exe > click Next > Accept terms > click Install.
  • Or download Media Creation Tool > launch the Setup > click Accept > select Upgrade this PC now > click Next > click Accept > select Keep personal files and apps > click Install.

Computers still running a copy of Windows 8.1 (of Windows 8) can upgrade to Windows 11 without losing data or applications using the ISO file or Media Creation Tool since it’s a supported installation path.

However, before you upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1, you have to make sure that your laptop or desktop meets the minimum system requirements. For example, the computer must have a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 and Secure Boot present and enabled, it must also have a UEFI firmware, and the processor has to be an Intel’s 8th Gen or newer or an AMD Zen 2 or newer.

Windows 11 will be offered as a free upgrade for Windows 10 computers, but you may still be able to activate with a Windows 8.1 product key. Also, you will need to create a full backup in case you need to roll back for any reason or if you need to recover your files for any reason.

Furthermore, before the installation, it’s recommended to uninstall any applications that may conflict with the upgrade to Windows 11, such as antivirus, security tools, and old third-party programs. You should also disconnect any hardware connected to the computer, including printers, phones, cameras, external hard drives, and other USB peripherals, to reduce the chances of running into problems.

In this guide, you will learn how to upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1.

Important: Windows 11 is expected to launch sometime in October 2021. These steps are meant to help you upgrade once the new OS is officially available, but you can use the ISO file process to upgrade a device to the latest preview of Windows.

Upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1 via ISO file

Windows 11 is still not officially available, but Microsoft is currently providing a preview of the ISO file, which you can use to perform an in-place upgrade (for testing purposes).

The upgrade is a non-destructive process, but there are always chances of problems. As a result, it’s a good idea to create a full backup, which you can use to roll back if anything unexpected happens. In addition to the system backup, you should also create a backup of your files to OneDrive or another cloud service or external drive in case you need to restore them manually.

To upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1 with an ISO file, use these steps:

  1. Download Windows 11 ISO file.

  2. Right-click the ISO file, select the Mount option.

    Windows 11 ISO mount on Windows 8.1

  3. Click on the mounted drive from the left navigation pane.

  4. Double-click the Setup file to begin the Windows 11 upgrade process.

    Launch Windows 11 setup

  5. (Optional) Click the Change how Windows Setup downloads updates option.

    Windows 11 setup update option

  6. Select the Not right now option.

    Disable updates during install

  7. Click the Next button.

  8. Click the Accept button to agree to the terms.

  9. Click the Install button to upgrade while keeping your files and apps.

    Windows 8.1 to 11 install

If you want to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows 11, click the Change what to keep option, select the Nothing option, click the Next button, and then click the Install button.

Once you complete the steps, the upgrade process will begin preserving your files and applications. After the installation, you may need to complete the out-of-box experience (OOBE) to choose your privacy settings.

Upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1 via Media Creation Tool

To upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Download the Media Creation Tool from Microsoft (not yet available).

  2. Click the Download tool now button and save the installer on the device.

  3. Double-click the MediaCreationTooxxxx.exe to launch the Windows 11 setup wizard.

  4. Click the Accept button for the licensing agreement.

  5. Select the Upgrade this PC now option to download the files and begin the upgrade.

    Windows 11 Media Creation Tool upgrade

  6. Click the Next button.

  7. Click the Accept button to agree to the licensing agreement again.

  8. Select the Keep personal files and apps option.

  9. Click the Install button.

    Windows 11 setup from 8.1

Once you complete the steps, the process will begin and the device will upgrade to Windows 11.