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Windows 11 is here – here’s how to download it today

Skip the Windows Update line and upgrade now

If you’ve got Windows 10 on your PC, you’re now able to upgrade to Windows 11 for free. The new version of Windows isn’t a revolution but is a full design refresh for the now-six-year-old Windows 10. There are some decent new features, too. We’ve been using a pre-release for the last few months and it works really well. 

Windows 11 will start to appear in Windows Update for some users from today, but you can force the download if you want – see below for how to do that. And, of course, it’ll come as standard on new PCs, too. Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Pro 8 will be among the first to ship out of the box with the new operating system. 

How to check if you can upgrade

There are some complex system requirements, however, though Microsoft has launched a PC Health Check app to tell you if you can upgrade. Before upgrading, make sure you have backed up all your documents and any other key data.

If your PC is compatible, then go to Settings > Windows Update and see if Windows 11 is available. This is the easiest way to upgrade, but you may not be offered it right away. No bother, you can force the install without worrying about Windows Update by getting the Windows 11 Installation Assistant.

Broadly speaking, your PC will need to have either an 8th generation Intel Core processor/AMD Zen 2 processor or later and will also need 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage. That means that PCs from 2017/8 and on should be fine but earlier PCs may not be able to run Windows 11. Even Microsoft’s own2017 Surface Pro can’t run Windows 11 officially.

This is all because Windows 11 needs a TPM or Trusted Platform Module. This is a complex bit of tech that keeps your PC secure and Microsoft has decided that now is the time to make it a requirement.

You may be able to install Windows 11 if you have an older machine, but you’ll need to do it manually with a Windows 11 disk image which isn’t the easiest – try the above route first.

Will I be forced to upgrade?

If you don’t do anything at present but your PC is suitable to upgrade, you’ll be offered an upgrade at various points over the next few months – Microsoft expects the upgrade period to last well into 2022 and says that users are free to remain on Windows 10 if they wish. It won’t be a forced upgrade.

Indeed, there’s a small update coming to Windows 10 itself soon. Windows 10 will be supported through to October 2025 at least, largely because of the strong system requirements for Windows 11 you’d suspect.

And Microsoft has also announced there will be a full update for Windows 11 too next year that will continue one of Windows 11’s main aims of cleaning up and simplifying the Windows interface. Android app support is also coming via the Amazon Appstore, though isn’t present in the initial release.