Windows setup evolution

Windows 11 Setup new design experience hands-on

Microsoft finally updated the Windows 11 Setup interface with a white background, new visual elements, and steps.

  • The Windows 11 Setup UI gets its first design update since the Vista release.
  • The setup interface retains the familiar design in the Media Creation Tool but keeps the Windows 8 frame.
  • Microsoft says all existing features are still supported, but some workflows will be affected.

Microsoft is testing a new interface design for the “Windows Setup,” the wizard you typically use to perform a clean installation of Windows 11 from USB. The company released the first preview of the new visual changes with the announcement of Windows 11 build 26040.

The new experience, which hasn’t changed in over a decade, now resembles the Media Creation Tool with a streamlined design and white background. However, the interface retains the familiar style from the Windows Vista era but elements of the Windows 8 design style.

Microsoft’s new Windows 11 Setup UI

When the company first introduced the graphical wizard with a window border with the release of Vista, the experience included a green background image for the entire screen and window, which was titled “Install Windows.”

Windows Vista install wizard
Windows Vista install wizard / Image: Mauro Huculak

On Windows 7, Microsoft kept the same design, but it included a new blue background.

Windows 7 install wizard
Windows 7 install wizard / Image: Mauro Huculak

On Windows 8, with the introduction of the new visual elements, the company updated the wizard to the classic purple for the screen and wizard window backgrounds. However, the wizard was now named “Windows Setup.”

Windows 8 Setup wizard
Windows 8 Setup wizard / Image: Mauro Huculak

Windows 10 has the same visual design without significant changes other than only saying “Windows” without the version number next to the logo.

Windows 10 Setup UI
Windows 10 Setup UI / Image: Mauro Huculak

Windows 11 inherited the same “Windows Setup” experience.

Windows 11 Setup legacy
Windows 11 Setup legacy / Image: Mauro Huculak

However, Microsoft is now updating the experience with a new design that still retains the familiar style but with a white background and changes to the installation process.

Windows 11 Setup new UI
Windows 11 Setup new UI / Image: Mauro Huculak

For example, on the first screen, you can only choose the language, time, and currency, as the keyboard and input method are now part of the second screen.

Windows Setup keyboard settings
Windows Setup keyboard settings / Image: Mauro Huculak

Also, the “Install now” page is no longer present. Instead, you now have the “Select setup option” page with three options, including “Install Windows 11,” “Repair my PC,” and “Launch the legacy experience.”

Select setup option
Select setup option / Image: Mauro Huculak

You also now have to agree to the terms from this page to continue with the setup.

The “Install Windows 11” option allows you to perform a clean installation or upgrade the current setup. On the “Product key” page, you can confirm the activation key or skip the step.

Product key page
Product key page / Image: Mauro Huculak

The “Select Image” page allows you to choose the edition of Windows 11.

Select image page
Select image page / Image: Mauro Huculak

Then, you have to accept the notices and license terms.

Windows 11 install terms
Windows 11 install terms / Image: Mauro Huculak

In the “Select location to install Windows 11” page, you will find the tools to partition the drive and load drivers as necessary.

Select location to install Windows 11
Select location to install Windows 11 / Image: Mauro Huculak

In the past, the options were located at the bottom of the page, but now, they appear at the top.

Here’s my video highlighting the changes available on build 26040 in the Canary Channel, plus a first look at the new setup experience.

Also, when you click the “Next” button, the installation won’t start automatically. Instead, the new setup will give you a summary of the process, and after clicking the “Install” button, Windows 11 will install on the system.

Ready to install page
Ready to install page / Image: Mauro Huculak

When the installation starts, the setup will now show a blue screen with the progress of the process, similar to the upgrade process when upgrading from the Windows desktop.

After the installation, the Out-of-the-Box Experience (OOBE) you already know will allow you to finish the setup.

The “Repair this PC” option will take you to the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE). Once you select the keyboard layout, you have access to the tools to recover the system, including the “Troubleshoot” section that has the options to repair the startup, access the UEFI firmware settings, System Restore, System Image Recovery, and Command Prompt.

Windows 11 new setup WinRE
Windows 11 new setup WinRE / Image: Mauro Huculak

Although this experience remains virtually the same, the icons have been updated to match the design style of Windows 11.

Repair this PC troubleshoot options
Repair this PC troubleshoot options / Image: Mauro Huculak

Finally, the “Launch the legacy experience” option, as the name implies, will give you access to the classic purple wizard.

Microsoft notes all the features will continue to be supported, including unattended installations. Also, the new experience will not affect the DISM operating system deployment but may affect some workflows.

It’s important to note that it has been discovered that this is actually not a recently thought-out design since it can be enabled in early builds of Windows 11 from 2021 and even on Windows 10 preview builds from 2014. This would explain why the new update still retains the design style from Windows 8 and doesn’t align with the Windows 11 design language.

Update January 31, 2024: This content has been updated to add details about the new Setup UI being available in the operating system for more than 10 years and Microsoft finally making the switch now.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows expert and the Editor-in-Chief who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He is also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 12 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows, software, and related technologies, 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 About.me.