How to upgrade to Windows 11: Every option explained
PCWorld|November 2021
Microsoft has several tools to upgrade you from Windows 10 to Windows 11 in a matter of minutes.
MARK HACHMAN

Windows 11 (see page 25) has finally been released to the public, and you can download it right away if you’d like! Here’s how to get Windows 11, a free upgrade for your Windows 10 PC.

Downloading the official final version of Windows 11 is very much like downloading the original Windows 11 beta (fave. co/3vxJJ9N), but Microsoft has added a tool to facilitate the process. In fact, there are four ways to download Windows 11, each of which has its own unique advantages. We’ll show you all four, after explaining what you should know before you upgrade.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO DOWNLOAD WINDOWS 11

Before you begin downloading Windows 11, make sure you have the right PC hardware. While we don’t think there’s much risk to downloading and installing Windows 11, there’s always the chance that something could go wrong. Take a moment and back up critical files to an external hard drive (fave. co/3nlNb3Z) or the cloud (fave. co/3FWaMk6) before proceeding. Our Windows 11 upgrade checklist (fave. co/3lYLqdp) can help you ensure that you have all your ducks are in a row.

Also make sure you understand that Windows 11 Home will require a Microsoft account (fave. co/3DUzY8W) to administer. If you own a Windows 10 Pro account and upgrade to Windows 11 Pro, you’ll be able to use a local (or as Microsoft now calls it, “offline”) account. To upgrade to Windows 10 Pro (fave.co/3pllB9l) and then to Windows 11 Pro, the simplest way is to go to the MicrosoftStore and upgrade to Windows 10 Pro before kicking off the upgrade. You’ll pay full price going that route, though; to save some cash, check out our guide on how to get Windows for cheap (or maybe even free [fave. co/3pCQ96X]). You can also upgrade to Windows 11 Pro after first upgrading to from Windows 10 Home to Windows 11 Home, though you’ll need to enter a Microsoft account to do so.

The time that downloading and installation of Windows 11 requires will vary based on your PC’s speed and your available broadband bandwidth. We’d say that allocating 30 minutes to an hour sounds about right, but it may be very different for you. Plan on having at least 9 GB of free space available to download Windows 11, and make sure your PC is up to date, with Windows 10 Version 2004 or above installed. Simply run Windows Update on your computer before installing Windows 11 to make sure it’s properly patched.

You’ll need a PC that meets the minimum hardware specifications of Windows 11. We would also highly encourage you to read our earlier story on the Windows 11 minimum hardware specifications (fave.co/3C7aDbn), download Microsoft’s Health Check app, and check to see if your PC is eligible to upgrade to Windows 11. You’ll need a PC with at least a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 1.2 to qualify. The easiest and safest way to qualify for Windows 11 is simply to have a PC that meets Microsoft’s restrictions.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM PCWORLDView All

3 Things We Love in Windows 11 (and 3 Things We Hate)

Windows 11 has some great features, as well as reasons not to upgrade.

4 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

How to make Windows 11 look like Windows 10

Windows 11 gives Microsoft’s operating system a bold new look, but you can still make it feel (mostly) familiar.

5 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

How to upgrade to Windows 11: Every option explained

Microsoft has several tools to upgrade you from Windows 10 to Windows 11 in a matter of minutes.

8 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

How to watch TV on your PC

There are several ways to watch live TV on your PC, some much easier than others. We walk you through your options.

5 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

SOME OF THE BEST WINDOWS 11 FEATURES ARE HIDDEN

HERE’S WHERE TO FIND THEM.

7 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

Mesh Wi-Fi vs. traditional router: Which one's best for your home?

You can go with the easy answer—or the one that’s actually best for you.

7 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

AMD Radeon RX 6600: Finally, a true 1080p graphics card

It’s good, though pricey.

10+ mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE: A gaming laptop that's safe for work

The 16:10, 1440p, 165 Hz display is great for more than just gaming.

7 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

Microsoft Surface Pro 8: A superior Windows 11 tablet

Microsoft's latest Surface ushers in Windows 11 with an outstanding new Surface tablet.

10+ mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

PNY LX3030 SSD: Incredible durability for twice the price

This PCIe 3 drive sustains long writes with the top performers and is rated for a staggering 27,000TBW per TB of capacity.

5 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021
RELATED STORIES

WHAT WORKS FOR ME: WINDOWS OF OPPORTUNITY

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella functions in a daily pressure cooker of high stakes. Here’s how he finds balance amid the ever-evolving environment of big tech. as told to CHARLES THORP

2 mins read
Men's Journal
November - December 2021

AUGMENTED REALITY PROJECT BRINGS OLYMPICS BIRTHPLACE TO LIFE

What would it be like to walk around the ancient religious sanctuary of Olympia when the Olympic Games were held?

3 mins read
Techlife News
13, November 2021

HOW TO USE SNAP LAYOUTS IN WINDOWS 11

Windows 11 may be better known for its centered taskbar and rounded window borders, but the new Snap Layouts feature (sometimes also called Snap Assist) might be a more useful UI innovation. Windows, as its name implies, has long been excellent at managing and rearranging program windows, but Snap Layouts elevate the operating system (OS) to the next level.

4 mins read
PC Magazine
November 2021

CAN MY PC RUN WINDOWS 11?

With rounded corners for all windows, relocated taskbar icons, and more elegant Settings dialogs, Windows 11 is a significant visual refinement of Windows 10. It’s also a free update, which means you’re probably keen to install it on your existing PC.

5 mins read
PC Magazine
November 2021

HOW TO SET UP AND CUSTOMIZE YOUR WINDOWS 11 INSTALLATION

The Windows 11 setup process is similar to that of Windows 10, but there are a few surprises when it comes to account access, privacy, security, and other features. And installing the new OS is only half the battle. Afterward, you have to go through a host of setup screens to customize and configure Windows 11 the way you want it.

5 mins read
PC Magazine
November 2021

Microsoft Offers TPM 2.0 Bypass to Install Windows 11 on Unsupported PC

For months, Microsoft has been telling customers that Windows 11 requires your PC to have a special security chip called TPM 2.0—but you can actually skirt the restriction. Ironically, the company itself posted official guidance on its website detailing how to circumvent the TPM 2.0 requirement.

1 min read
PC Magazine
November 2021

Microsoft Windows 11: A Radically Modernized Design

Many people thought there would never be a Windows 11—understandably, after Microsoft announced in 2015 that Windows 10 would be the operating system’s last version number.

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
November 2021

MICROSOFT PROFIT UP 24% IN QUARTER, DRIVEN BY CLOUD GROWTH

Growth in Microsoft’s cloud computing business helped push its profit up 24% in the July-September quarter over the same time last year.

1 min read
AppleMagazine
October 29, 2021

VOXELS

Who needs polygons when you have blocks?

3 mins read
PC Gamer US Edition
December 2021

MINECRAFT

A ten-year-old game is still reaching new heights.

3 mins read
PC Gamer US Edition
December 2021