How to Upgrade From Windows 10 to Windows 11

You should be able to upgrade to Windows 11 for free

What to Know

  • If you're running Windows 10, you can likely upgrade that device to Windows 11 for free through Windows Update.
  • Windows 11 begins rolling out in the fall of 2021, but your personal upgrade time may vary.
  • You will need to meet the minimum system requirements for Windows 11 to download and install it, even if you're entitled to a free copy.

This article explains how you can upgrade your Windows 10 device to Windows 11.

When it launches, Microsoft's PC Health Check app will be the one-stop-shop for checking if your copy of Windows 10 can be upgraded to Windows 11.

Is Windows 11 Free?

In short, if you're a consumer with a legally obtained copy of Windows 10, you can upgrade to Windows 11 for free if you meet the minimum system requirements.

When Windows 11 as an upgrade goes live, Microsoft will roll it out through Windows Update on Windows 10.

If you don't already own a copy of Windows 10, for example, Windows 11 licenses will be available for purchase much like Windows 10.

When Does Windows 11 Launch?

Microsoft intends to start shipping PCs with Windows 11 in the fall of 2021 and also intends to begin the Windows 11 update rollout through Windows Update on Windows 10 around the same time. These aren't hard dates, however, and you may personally fall into a later tier of rollout slated for 2022, for example.

When Windows 11 does go live, you will need to meet the operating system's minimum system requirements, while even if you meet the requirements and can upgrade, you won't be forced to upgrade, with Microsoft continuing to support Windows 10 until at least 2025.

You can download and install the Windows 11 Insider Preview right now if you meet the minimum system requirements.

How to Upgrade to Windows 11

When Windows 11 launches, the rollout of Windows 11 upgrades will begin. This doesn't mean there will be a specific day when anyone can simply elect to upgrade to Windows 11 and will instead be like other major updates from Microsoft: There will be a rollout period where more and more users are given the option to upgrade.

When the time comes, upgrading Windows 10 to Windows 11 will happen through Windows Update. When eligible for the upgrade, check for Windows updates. Once it's available follow these instructions.

  1. After the update file has finished download, find it on your drive (it's most likely in the Download folder unless you directed it somewhere else) and double click the file to begin the installation.

  2. You'll be prompted to agree to the License Terms. Be sure to click Agree or you won't be able to install the upgrade.

    Read the license agreement thoroughly before you agree to it so you will know your responsibilities and how Microsoft plans to use any data it collects from your PC.

  3. You'll likely be prompted to click Install again. Do so, and then follow along with the prompts as they appear.

  4. You'll have to choose which data and files you want to keep. Be sure to pay attention here so you don't lose anything important.

    It's a good idea to backup all your files and pictures before you start upgrading your computer, so if something goes wrong, you don't lose anything important. You may also want to write down what applications you have installed along with any access key or password and username information you'll need to get those applications reinstalled if necessary.

  5. Once the installation is complete, you may be prompted to enter your Windows key. If so, enter it and then click OK or whatever other affirmative choice might appear.

That's it. You should have Windows 11 installed on your device and can begin setting it up in a way that works best for you.

It's also likely as with other major updates from Microsoft there will be an opt-in option made available at some point, where if you'd like to upgrade before you're naturally selected for a rollout, you can opt in.

However, this information is subject to change, pending Microsoft's official rollout of the new operating system. Though, as long as you have an activated copy of Windows 10 and meet the minimum system requirements of Windows 11, you'll be able to upgrade your Windows 10 PC to Windows 11 for free eventually.

Windows 11 Minimum System Requirements

To be able to upgrade to Windows 11, you will need to meet the minimum system requirements, of course, but the Windows 11 requirements work a little differently than previous minimum system requirements for operating systems like Windows 10.

Make sure you check out Microsoft's system requirements page and pay careful attention to features like UEFI, Safe Boot, and TPM 2.0. These exist outside of the normal memory, processor, and graphics requirements of a Windows OS which are otherwise very similar to Windows 10.

It's also important to remember even if your device meets the minimum requirements you are not obligated to upgrade. Moving from Windows 10 to Windows 11 doesn't do much for you, at least until Windows 10 support is discontinued, unless you're interested in the features of Windows 11.

FAQ
  • How long does a Windows 11 upgrade take?

    While the initial upgrade might take longer than a Windows 10 feature update, routine Windows 11 updates should be faster. Updates will be 40 percent smaller and happen in the background, which means users can use their PCs and schedule the update for later.

  • How do I upgrade Windows 8 to Windows 11?

    You will most likely need to purchase a Windows 11 license if your PC meets the minimum system requirements to upgrade to Windows 11. If your PC isn't supported, use our guide to upgrade Windows 8 to Windows 10 to continue receiving support after Windows 8 end-of-life in January 2023.

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