If you’ve got Windows 10 (version 2004 or higher) on your PC, you’re able to upgrade to Windows 11 for free. The latest 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 it for the last year in pre-release and full release versions and it works really well.
Windows 11 will appear in Windows Update providing you’ve installed the relevant Windows 10 updates, but you can force the download if you want – see below for how to do that. And, of course, it comes as standard on new PCs, too. Microsoft’s latest Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Pro 8 were among the first to ship out of the box with the operating system.
How to check if you can upgrade
There are some complex system requirements 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 own 2017 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. Make sure your PC meets the system requirements though!
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 (you probably already have been). Windows 10 will be supported through to October 2025 at least, largely because of the strong system requirements for Windows 11 you’d suspect.
There will be a full update for Windows 11 too this year that will continue one of Windows 11’s main aims of cleaning up and simplifying the Windows interface. Android app support is also part of Windows 11 via the Amazon Appstore.