Microsoft has announced that Windows 11 will start rolling out to eligible PCs from October 5 2021. Here's how to make sure your PC will get the new OS – and how to join the Windows Insider preview programme
It's official: Windows 11 will start to be rolled out to computers from October 5, and it will be a free upgrade for PCs that meet the hardware requirements.
All you need to do is make sure that you've got Windows Update properly set up on your eligible PC, and wait for it to land.
However, if you want to try out the early preview builds for yourself, it's straightforward to get started with that, too.
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One warning: we don't recommend installing a preview build of Windows 11 on a computer you rely on. While the preview builds are fairly stable, there's always the chance of your PC becoming unstable and that could cost you all your work.
Check your PC
First, though, we recommend that you download and run Microsoft's tool to check that your PC meets the minimum hardware requirements.
Those hardware requirements are:
- A compatible 64-bit processor
- 4GB of RAM
- 64GB or more of storage space
- UEFI and Secure Boot capable
- TPM 2.0
- Graphics that's compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
- a high-definition display (720p) that's bigger than 9" diagonally
- An internet connection and a Microsoft account
The download tool is available on this website: you'll need to be logged in to your Microsoft account to be offered the download.
Want some more help with your PC? Our friendly tech team can help you with one-to-one support on a range of tech issues. Find out more here.
Once you're signed in, choose the right tool for your PC - for most recent computers you'll need the 64-bit download. If you're using Windows 10 in S Mode choose the S Mode Download.
Having downloaded the tool, run it, and click on Check now. The tool will tell you quickly if your PC meets the hardware standards. If you want to see more detail, click the See all results.
If your PC meets the hardware standards, then it's time to join the Insider Programme so that you get the Windows 11 Insider builds.
What if my PC doesn't meet the hardware requirements – can I install Windows 11?
A note, and a warning: you can install the Insider version if your PC doesn't meet the hardware requirements, but we absolutely do not recommend doing that at this point.
You would need to be prepared to wipe your hard drive and reinstall Windows 10 from scratch on October 5 (and PCs that don't meet the hardware requirements running the Insider version of Windows 11 are already seeing warnings that they should do this soon).
Once Windows 11 launches on October 5 you will be able to install it on a PC that doesn't meet the hardware requirements using the Microsoft Media Creation Tool, but again we absolutely do not recommend doing this.
The experience is likely be poor and it's not clear whether you will be able to get updates from Microsoft once you've installed Windows 11 in this way. This is for experts only.
Join the Insider Programme
To get started, tap the Windows button and type Windows update into the search box, and then click Windows Update settings.
This will bring up the Windows Update section of the Settings app. In the left-hand panel, click on Windows Insider Programme.
In the next box, choose which channel you want to join: we recommend joining the Beta Channel which gives you a balance of early sight of the new features without risking too much instability from rough edges.
Once you've joined the appropriate channel, check for updates: the Windows 11 version you've signed up for will be offered to you like an ordinary Windows update.
Note that the current builds don't include some features that will come later on, most notably the ability to run Android apps via the Amazon app store on Windows 11.
Thinking of buying a new laptop that's ready for Windows 11? Head over to our latest lab tests