Windows 11 is now available for eligible PCs – download it now

Microsoft begins slow rollout of Windows 11, and you can download it now from Windows Update, or using Media Creation Tool or Update Assistant Tool.

Windows 11 dark desktop
Windows 11 dark desktop
  • Microsoft officially releases Windows 11.
  • Windows 11 is now available for download on compatible PCs.
  • You can get it from Windows Update or using the Media Creation Tool or Installation Assistant.
  • It’s a free upgrade for Windows 10 PCs as long as they meet the minimum system requirements.

Windows 11 (version 21H2) is officially available as a free upgrade for computers that meet the minimum system requirements starting October 5, 2021. This rollout marks the first release of a new version of the OS for laptops, desktop computers, and tablets with a new set of features, changes, and improvements to enhance productivity, security, and user experience.

The new version of Windows represents the most significant update of the past decade, but it’s not entirely new. Windows 11 is based on Windows 10 but with a new interface, tools, sounds, and applications.

In this new release, Microsoft introduces a modern design language using rounded corners and new semi-transparent materials. You will find a new simplified Start menu that ditches the Live Tiles design in favor of traditional icons. The redesigned Taskbar now aligns to the center of the screen. And there are new multitasking tools like Snap Layouts, Snap Groups, and Desktops.

Furthermore, Windows 11 is updating many experiences like the new out-of-box experience (OOBE), Settings, Notification Center, and Quick Settings. And there are updates for many inbox apps, such as File Explorer, Calculator, Photos, Snipping Tool, Microsoft Store, Tips, and many others.

Rollout and system requirements

Windows 11 is a free upgrade available as an optional update for devices that meet the minimum requirements. This means that your computer will need at least an Intel 8th Gen or newer or Ryzen 2000 or more recent processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and more importantly, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0 and Secure Boot.

If you are not sure your computer meets the minimum requirements, you can use the Microsoft PC Health Check app to determine if your device has the required hardware to upgrade to Windows 11. For more requirements information, you can check this guide.

PC Health Check app
PC Health Check app

However, even if the machine meets the new requirements, it’s not likely to get it on day one. On October 5, Microsoft will begin the gradual rollout that will take months. Initially, Windows 11 will be available for computers with newer hardware known to have a smooth upgrade experience. Over time, it will expand to more devices based on hardware eligibility, reliability metrics, age of the hardware, and other factors. Then sometime during the second half of 2022, Microsoft will make Windows 11 fully available for compatible devices.

Upgrade to Windows 11

If you want to upgrade to Windows 11, the best way is to use the Windows Update settings. However, you can still perform an in-place upgrade with the Installation Assistant.

Windows 11 upgrade via Windows Update
Windows 11 upgrade via Windows Update

Also, you can use the Media Creation Tool to a bootable USB flash drive to do a clean install. (The tool can no longer be used to do an in-place upgrade. It’s only available to create a bootable media or download the ISO file.)

Furthermore, you can download the Windows 11 ISO file to install the new OS in a virtual machine or create a bootable media manually with Command Prompt or third-party tools like Rufus.

The upgrade process will require a complete reinstallation, but when using the Windows Update settings or in-place upgrade option with one of the available tools coming from Windows 10, settings, apps, and files will be preserved. However, it’s always recommended to create a full backup before proceeding.

On the other hand, if you choose to perform a clean installation of Windows 11, then your files, apps, and settings won’t be preserved.

Whether you choose to install the new version using the upgrade or clean install process, the download size of Windows 11 will be around 4 to 5GB.

Windows 11 activation

If the device was previously activated version of Windows 7, 8.1, or Windows 10, then the Windows 11 will activate automatically without needing a new product key. However, if this is a brand new installation, you will need to purchase a new license.

Unsupported devices

Although this new version of Windows 11 has new hardware requirements, you will still be able to upgrade an incompatible computer. However, this won’t be possible through the Windows Update setting. Instead, you will need to use the Media Creation Tool or ISO file to perform a clean installation. The only caveat is that you will need to acknowledge that your computer will be in an unsupported state during the process, which means that Microsoft won’t support the installation, nor will it offer updates or drivers. And you may come across crashes, errors, and other problems.

As a result, it’s not recommended to force the Windows 11 installation on a device that doesn’t meet the official system requirements.

If you still want to upgrade at your own risk, the computer will still need to meet other minimum requirements, including a 64-bit processor with at least two cores, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and an enabled TPM 1.2 chip.

In the case that your computer doesn’t meet one or more of the requirements, you can use this workaround to bypass all the requirements.

Insider information

If you are a participant of the Windows Insider Program with a computer enrolled in the Beta or Release Preview channel, the final version of Windows 11 (build 22000.194) is already installed on your computer.

The only thing you need to do to stay on the stable version and stop preview builds is to turn on the “Unenroll this device when the next version of Windows releases” option in the Windows Insider Program settings page from Windows Update.

Unenroll Insider Program
Unenroll Insider Program

Once you do this, the computer will be gracefully opt-out of the program, and it will continue to get updates for as long as this release is supported. However, you need to enable this option before the computer downloads and installs another preview for the next feature update of Windows 11.

If you currently have a computer in the Dev Channel, you will need to reinstall the OS to stay in the stable version.

Get started with Windows 11

Although if you have been using Windows 10, you won’t find it difficult to get around Windows 11, you will still find a lot of new stuff in this new version. You can check the ultimate field guide, highlighting all the new features and changes on Windows 11. Or you can check out this guide, which explains the biggest changes with the new OS.

You can also check these guides to get started with Windows 11:

For more tutorials, you can always check the Windows 11 help page.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].