Update (10/13 1 p.m. ET): This post was updated to include the official process for updating Windows 10 to Windows 11.
Windows 11 is available for download right now, and there are lots of reasons to be excited for it. It sports a much more modern design, and, if you’re a gamer, Microsoft is bringing a few of their biggest innovations from the Xbox Series X to Windows 11 to make the operating system ready for next-gen gaming. Microsoft even talked a big game about bringing Android apps to Windows 11, but that functionality hasn’t materialized quite yet.
How to download and install Windows 11
First, like with any big update, you’ll want to make sure your data is backed up in case of a catastrophic failure or if you want to go back to Windows 10. You can use Windows 10’s built-in backup function or use a separate app.
Next, make sure your PC is up to spec. Newer machines will pass without much of a hitch, but older PCs — even powerful ones — may not make the cut for reasons we’ll outline below.
- A 64-bit processor with 2 or more cores, 1 GHz or faster
- 4GB of RAM
- 64GB of storage
- A graphics card compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
- A 720p display that’s at least 9 inches on the diagonal
- Internet connectivity and a Microsoft account
So here’s the thing: Windows 11 requires a TPM 2.0 chip to be enabled. These are included in any Intel 8th-gen chip or newer, or any AMD Ryzen 2000-series chip or newer, and some motherboards may include them as well if you’re using an older CPU like the popular Intel 7700K. However, even if your computer has a TPM 2.0 chip, your BIOS may not have it enabled, so you will need to enable it manually before you update.
Once you’ve confirmed your PC is compatible, now it’s time to install Windows.
Upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 through an update
This is going to be the easiest way to upgrade to Windows 11. From your desktop, click on your Start Menu, select “Settings,” click on “Update & Security.” If your PC meets the prerequisites for installing Windows 11 listed above, the option to upgrade for free should be listed at the top of this menu. Click on “Download and Install” to start the upgrade, which will likely take a few hours.
Install Windows 11 manually
If you know your PC meets the requirements for a Windows 11 install, but you don’t see the upgrade option in your “Update & Security” menu, don’t fret. You can still install Windows 11 — Microsoft just hasn’t rolled out the update option to you just yet. If you don’t want to wait, you can jump the line by downloading Windows 11 through the Microsoft website.The first option available uses an assistant for installation and will be the easiest choice for upgrading.
- Click “Download Now” to download the installation assistant
- Once the download is complete, open the installation assistant file. You’ll be asked if you want the file to make changes to your device — click “Yes”
- After you read and accept the installation agreement, click “Accept and Install” to begin the download process. Your PC will download Windows 11, verify the download and then start the installation process.
- Once the installation reaches 100%, you’ll be asked to restart your computer. Your PC will continue working on configuring the update and will likely restart a few times to complete the process. There are no additional buttons to click or choices to make, so you can walk away and let your PC do its thing.
- When the installation is really complete, a log-in screen will pop up. Enter your password and you’ll be met with a shiny new Windows 11 OS and a few intro screens to work through.
Install with a USB or DVD
If you want to download a copy of Windows 11 to use for reinstalls or clean installs through a USB or DVD, Microsoft has an option for you on that same download page under “Create Windows 11 Installation Media.”
Once you download that tool and open it, you can choose to download Windows 11 directly onto a USB drive or DVD. Once the process is complete, you can use that USB drive or DVD to install Windows 11 on a compatible computer.
Can I Switch Back to Windows 10 if I Don’t Like Windows 11?
If, for whatever reason, you’re not enjoying the Windows 11 experience, you can quickly switch back to Windows 10 without much hassle. This isn’t a must-have upgrade yet, so you can ride out the launch on Windows 10 for a while.If you’ve installed Windows 11 in the past ten days, you can easily rollback to Windows 10. Navigate to your Settings, to System , and then to the Recovery menu, where you’ll see an option called “Previous version of Windows.” Click on “Go back,” and your PC will start undoing the OS update after asking for some feedback.