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Upgrading directly from Windows 7 to Windows 11 will take some extra steps

Windows 11 Install
Windows 11 Install (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Upgrading directly from Windows 7 to Windows 11 will require a clean install or for you to reimage your PC.
  • In contrast, PCs moving from Windows 10 will also have the option to upgrade through Windows Settings.
  • Only PCs that meet the minimum requirements for Windows 11 will be able to upgrade to the new operating system.

If you plan to upgrade your PC directly from Windows 7 to Windows 11, you'll have to go through a bit of a longer process. PCs that meet the Windows 11 minimum requirements will have to perform a clean install or reimage a PC to go directly to Windows 11. The details for the upgrade process are answered in an FAQ page from Lenovo (opens in new tab) about Windows 11.

When asked about the upgrade path from Windows 7 to Windows 11, Lenovo explains:

Most devices available for purchase now will be upgradeable to Windows 11. You will have the option to upgrade, clean install, or reimage Windows 10 devices to move to Windows 11. For Windows 7 devices that meet hardware requirements, you will need to clean install or reimage to go directly to Windows 11.

It's unclear how many PCs currently running Windows 7 meet the minimum requirements of Windows 11. Windows 7 has been out of support since January 2020 and is now quite dated for an operating system.

The upgrade path from Windows 7 to Windows 11 may affect business and enterprise customers more than individual people. Some organizations still run Windows 7 across networks of PCs.

If people don't want to perform a clean install, they could upgrade a PC to Windows 10 first and then upgrade to Windows 11.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

5 Comments
  • Well this is pretty obvious. For the few Windows 7 people who aren't against ANY OS update, it will serve as a lesson, I guess.
    We're talking about Windows SEVEN. People are insane.
  • I saw Windows XP in some Indian banks. Isn't that insane ?
  • Going from Win7 to 8.x or 10 would have been a downgrade. At this point those still running Win7 are probably also running on systems that are near a decade old or older. If they want Win11 at all, then they probably want a new computer, too. And there are about 100 million of us still using Win7. It works fine for how it's used, which is probably not for casual browsing of the Internet (I know I don't). If Microsoft (or someone else) offers an Aero skin for Windows 11 to give the look and feel of Win7, then a lot of users might be inclined to get that new PC.
  • I never understood the love affair of Windows 7 I actually switched to Mac OS. And then something called Surface Pro and Windows 8 happen and then I switched to PC again.
  • Considering that official Kaby Lake (7th Gen) Intel and all Ryzen CPUs aren't officially supported on Windows 7, I'm not surprised that a clean install is required. Especially since 1st gen Ryzen and 7th Gen Intel aren't currently on the Win 11 support list, the only reason you'd make the jump is if you've moved the drive with your Windows install between PCs - and most the majority of that minority of people will have probably clean installed anyway. Essentially, unless Microsoft decide to support CPUs prior to Ryzen and 7th gen Intel on Windows 11, providing an in-place upgrade doesn't make any sense.