The most recent version of Microsoft’s operating system is now available for download.
Microsoft’s Windows 11 is finally here, after all of the news, hype, and previews. You’re probably eager to update your Windows 10 machine in order to take advantage of all of the new features and changes that Microsoft has included in its most recent update. Great! However, because updating isn’t always straightforward, we’ll walk you through installing Windows 11 on your computer, even if you haven’t yet received the update.
Microsoft doesn’t want Windows 11 running on all machines
Microsoft’s hardware requirements for Windows 11 are quite strict, as you’ve probably heard. You’ll need the following items to download and install the latest update on your machine in the Microsoft-approved manner:
- Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake or Zen 2 CPUs and up
- A 64-bit 1 GHz processor with at least two cores
- TPM 2.0 support
- 4 GB of RAM
- At least 64 GB of free storage space
Don’t worry if your PC or laptop doesn’t meet those requirements; there are still legal ways to install Windows 11 on your computer. We’ll talk about them later. For the time being, we’ll assume you have a Windows 11-capable machine. What are your options now?
How to check if Windows 11 is available on your machine
Unfortunately, Microsoft will not be releasing this update to all computers at the same time. Instead, it’s doing so gradually, with newer hardware taking precedence at first. It promises that by mid-2022, all eligible machines will be asked to update, which is, uh, a long time away.
The first step is to see if Microsoft has deemed your computer worthy of an update invitation. To do so, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and check if any new updates are available. If your machine is one of the lucky ones, you should be able to download a Windows 11 update just like any other Windows update. Congrats! To download and install the software, simply follow the on-screen instructions. If the update isn’t available, here’s how to install Windows 11.
It’s okay if you don’t see this update—due to Microsoft’s erratic whims, only a small percentage of computers will find a Windows 11 update ready to install in their Settings app. First, use the PC Health Check app to see if your machine qualifies for a Microsoft official update, which you can download here if you don’t already have it.
You can manually install the Windows 11 update if your computer meets Microsoft’s hardware requirements rather than waiting for Microsoft to add it to your updates page. To do so, go to Microsoft’s “Download Windows 11” page. You have three options for installing the Windows 11 update on your computer from there:
- Windows 11 Installation Assistant: Microsoft recommends this option for those who don’t have the update already on their device. The assistant will walk you through the installation process. Just click “Download Now” to get started. You can find additional installation instructions by clicking “Before you begin” on this page.
- Create Windows 11 Installation Media: This option allows you to perform a clean install of Windows 11 on your machine using a Windows 11 ISO. You will need to use a blank DVD or USB drive to perform the install on your PC. This type of installation can be complicated if you’ve never done one before. Follow Microsoft’s directions for installing Windows 11 this way by clicking “Before you begin” on this page.
- Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO): This option lets you download the Windows 11 ISO to do with as you wish. You could install it from a DVD or USB drive as in the option above, or install it directly from the ISO file. Again, this type of installation can be complicated; you can follow Microsoft’s installation direction by click “Before you begin” on this page.
How to install Windows 11 on an unsupported machine
Even if your computer doesn’t meet Microsoft’s minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11, you can still install the software. Because Microsoft won’t let you use the Installation Assistant on unsupported hardware, you’ll need to use either the “Create Windows 11 Installation Media” or “Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO)” options from the previous step. However, the company advises against installing the ISO on an unsupported machine, warning that those who do so may miss out on automatic updates. As a result, you’ll have to install each Windows 11 update as it becomes available from the ISO file.
If that sounds like too much trouble, there are other options for you to consider. When you can’t (or don’t want to) update, we’ve put together a walkthrough for making Windows 10 feel more like Windows 11. That way, you can enjoy the visual appeal of Windows 11 without having to deal with the hassle of installing the operating system from an ISO over and over again.