Windows 11 launch: When to expect the next version of Windows?

Windows 11 Icon Taskbar2 Razerbook
Windows 11 Icon Taskbar2 Razerbook (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Microsoft has just announced Windows 11 as the next successor to Windows 10. But, when can you get it and do you have to upgrade?

There are likely a few answers. Here is why.

Public testing

Windows 11 (beta): Late June, 2021

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft has announced that starting the week of June 28 it begin to share an early build of Windows 11 to the Windows Insider Program.

As expected, the release goes first to the Windows Insider Dev Channel. Later, it will migrate to Beta and then finally Release Preview towards the fall.

There will be exceptions to which PCs can join the Windows 11 Insider Dev Channel, as Microsoft notes:

All Windows Insiders who have already been installing builds from the Dev Channel on their PCs up through June 24, 2021 will be allowed to continue installing Windows 11 Insider Preview builds even if their PC does not meet the minimum hardware requirements. Insiders with PCs already in the Dev Channel have been installing and giving feedback on builds with Windows 11 features since last year.

Microsoft also comments about the Beta channel:

In preparation for releasing Windows 11 Insider Preview builds to the Beta Channel later this summer, we are moving PCs that do not meet the hardware requirements for Windows 11 in the Beta Channel to the Release Preview Channel. Some of these PCs may be able to move back to the Beta Channel, but at their own risk. See the above chart for details.

In other words, there are a lot of cavets, so make sure to read Microsoft's full post detailing the how the Insider program will work.

For everyone else

Windows 11 (General Release): October 6, 2021?

The Windows 11 update is a free upgrade for all Windows 10 users and is optional.

No final date has been given for the release of Windows 11, but October is a good rule of thumb (and it was even spotted in the Windows 11 presentation). Indeed, October 6th (Wednesday) could be the actual official day, but we'll have to wait and see.

Windows 11 will be available through a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs beginning this holiday. To check if your current Windows 10 PC is eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11, visit to download the PC Health Check app.

More on Windows 11

Windows 11 Screenshot

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Windows 11 is going to be one of the biggest releases for Windows in over a decade. While the recent leak gives us a good look at what to expect, there are still many questions and unknown details. These will be revealed in the coming weeks and months as Microsoft officially discloses the OS, which we'll be covering in great detail.

For now, stick to our main Windows 11: Release date, price, and everything you need to know page to keep up with the latest news and updates.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.