Windows 11 is now available for commercial customers to validate their apps and get hands-on with the new features ahead of the official October 5 release. Although the new OS is still not generally available, this is a big step as it signals that Windows 11 is almost ready for business deployment.
The OS is available through Windows Update for devices enrolled in the Windows Insider Program for Business or Windows Insider Program Release Preview Channel for devices that meet the minimum system requirements and have installed the September 1, 2021, update. When you check for updates, you will now see a notification that reads, “Upgrade to Windows 11 is ready – and it’s free.” Furthermore, Windows 11 is also ready for download through the Azure Marketplace and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), and Microsoft says that organizations have free support during the testing period.
If you are still running Windows 10, you can click the “Download and install” button in the Windows Update settings, but since this installation is optional, you can also click the “Stay on Windows 10 for now” option. However, this is only to dismiss the message. Technically, you don’t need to do anything to skip Windows 11 because it won’t install automatically, at least not until October 14, 2025, which is when the end of support for Windows 10 will happen.
In the case that you select the “Stay on Windows 10 for now” option, then the Windows 10 21H2 will be offered instead. If the computer doesn’t meet the hardware requirements in the Release Preview Channel will also receive the option to get version 21H2.
Although the release of Windows 11 to commercial customers is significant, it doesn’t mean that it’s ready. Microsoft has announced that it will be available on October 5, and the rollout will happen slowly in stages, beginning with new devices, followed by computers known to have a good upgrade experience, and then, the OS is expected to be fully available by mid-2022.
In addition to Windows 11, Microsoft is also making available Windows 10 21H2 for commercial customers. This version is a minor update for the current version of Windows 10, but it includes a number of new improvements and a small set of features.