Windows 11 has been released as a free upgrade for compatible laptops and desktop computers running Windows 10 with a slew of new features and changes. On October 5, 2021, Microsoft has begun the slow rollout starting with newer devices first. Then, it will expand to more compatible computers over time, and it will become fully available by mid-2022.
As part of the new experience, Windows 11 introduces a new interface that uses a modern design language with rounded corners and new materials like Mica, an element that lets the background shine through without impacting performance or battery life and falls back to a solid color when the app is not in focus.
In this version, you will also find a redesigned Start menu and Taskbar that are now aligned to the center of the screen, and there are some new features, such as Snap layouts, Chat from Microsoft Teams, Widgets, and new multiple displays improvements. Furthermore, Windows 11 ships with many overhauled experiences like the new out-of-box experience (OOBE), Settings, Desktops, Notification Center and Quick Settings that replace the Action Center experience. And there are updates for many built-in apps, such as File Explorer, Calculator, Microsoft Paint, Clock, and many more.
Since Windows 11 will coexist with Windows 10 for at least a few more years, the new version has been offered as a completely optional upgrade that you must trigger manually using at least one of the supported methods, including Windows Update, and Installation Assistant, or ISO file. (Starting with this release, the Media Creation Tool no longer offers the option to perform an in-place upgrade.)
In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the steps to download and install Windows 11 on your desktop, laptop, or tablet.
- Windows 11 upgrade requirements
- How to upgrade to Windows 11 using Windows Update
- How to upgrade to Windows 11 using Installation Assistant
- How to upgrade to Windows 11 using official ISO file
Important: This is a non-destructive process, but there is always a chance of something going wrong during and after the upgrade, which means that you should consider creating a temporary backup before proceeding. You've been warned.
Windows 11 upgrade requirements
Although Windows 11 is a free upgrade for existing Windows 10 devices, it doesn't mean that everyone's computer will support the new version.
Here are the minimum hardware requirements to perform the free upgrade:
- CPU: 1GHz or faster or System on a Chip (SoC) with two cores minimum.
- RAM: 4GB.
- Storage: 64GB or larger.
- Firmware: UEFI with Secure Boot capable.
- TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0.
- Graphics: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver.
- Display resolution: High definition (720p) display greater than 9-inch diagonally, 8 bits per color channel.
In addition to the requirements, if you will be upgrading to Windows 11 Home, you will also need an internet connection to complete the initial setup.
Whether tool you use you use Windows Update, Media Creation Tool or Installation Assistant, any of these tools should be able to determine and inform you whether or not the device meets the minimum requirements, but you can always check manually.
To check the basic hardware specs, use these steps:
- Open Settings.
- Click on System.
- Click on About.
Confirm the processor, memory, and system type.
Quick note: The memory should be greater than 4GB, and the processor must be an Intel's 7th Get 7820HQ, Core X, Xeon W, or 8th Gen or newer or an AMD Zen 2 or newer. You can find more information on the processor compatibility in this guide. Also, the system type must be 64-bit. Windows 11 does not come in 32-bit.
- Click on Storage.
Confirm the main drive is greater than 64GB.
You can also check your laptop or desktop hardware specification on the manufacturer's support website.
In addition, you will also need to make sure that the computer has enabled the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0. You can complete this task with these instructions.
Secure Boot is also a requirement, and it must be enabled to run Windows 11. You can use this guide to check the feature state and the steps to turn it on as necessary.
PC Health Check app
Alternatively, you can also use the PC Health Check app to quickly determine if your computer will support Windows 11:
Quick note: The download option is at the bottome of the page.
Under the "Check for compatibility" section, click the Download PC Health Check App button.
- Double-click the WindowsPCHealthCheckSetup.msi file.
- Click the I accept the terms in the License Agreement option.
Click the Install button.
Check the Open Windows PC Health Check option (if applicable).
- Click the Finish button.
- Under the "Introducing Windows 11" section, click the Check now button.
Click the See all results button to display the final report.
After you complete the steps, you will know if your PC can handle the new verison of Windows. If there's check that the device didn't pass, click the available link in the app to find out what you can do to remedy the situation.
How to upgrade to Windows 11 using Windows Update
To upgrade a PC running Windows 10 to Windows 11 through Windows Update, use these steps:
- Open Settings.
- Click on Update & Security.
- Click on Windows Update.
- Click the Check for updates button.
Click the Download and install now button.
- Click the Restart now button.
Once you complete the steps, the computer will restart, and then the upgrade to Windows 11 will begin. Also, since this is an in-place upgrade, you won't need to go through the entire out-of-box experience.
If the option to upgrade is missing in the Windows Update settings after clicking the button to check for updates, then Microsoft may be blocking the upgrade because of a compatibility problem or because the device does not meet the minimum requirements. In this case, it's recommended to wait as you may run into issues during or after the installation.
How to upgrade to Windows 11 using Installation Assistant
If there's a problem with Windows Update, and you know the hardware is compatible, then you can use the Installation Assistant to upgrade to Windows 11.
To use the Installation Assistant tool to upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 10, use these steps:
- Open this Microsoft support website.
- Under the "Windows 11 Installation Assistant" section, click the Download Now button.
- Save the file on the computer.
- Double-click the Windows11InstallationAssistant.exe file to launch the setup.
Click the Accept and install button.
After you complete these steps, the tool will download the installation files and will proceed to upgrade the computer to Windows 11, similar to the Windows Update process preserving your files, apps, and most of the settings. The time of completion will depend on your internet connection and device hardware.
How to upgrade to Windows 11 using official ISO file
Alternatively, you can also mount the ISO file to File Explorer to proceed with the upgrade process.
To upgrade a device to Windows 11 from the ISO file, use these steps:
- Open Windows 11 download page.
Under the "Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO)" section, select the Windows 11 option.
- Click the Download button.
Select the ISO language.
- Click the Confirm button.
Click the 64-bit Download button.
Right-click the image file and select the Mount option.
- Select the virtual drive from the left navigation pane (if applicable).
Double-click the setup.exe file to launch the setup manually.
- Click the Next button.
- Click the Accept button to agree to the terms.
Click the Install button.
Once you complete the steps, the upgrade will begin preserving your files, and most of your settings and applications.
More Windows resources
For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:
- Windows 10 on Windows Central — All you need to know
- Windows 10 help, tips, and tricks
- Windows 11 on Windows Central — All you need to know
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