Have you finally reached the point where you can no longer live without Windows 11? No problem, getting your hands on the latest operating system from Microsoft is simple.
You can get it three ways: wait for Windows 10 to push it to you, trigger the download using an app, or create installation media. We explain each method below.
However, before you start, we advise you to first check that your PC is compatible with Windows 11. This can save you time if you find that you are stuck with Windows 10. Also, if you are starting from zero (or, ahem, ran an older version of Windows that wasn’t activated), you can also get a cheap Windows 10 license. As the upgrades are free, they will allow you full access to Windows 11 features for much less.
Once you’ve confirmed your system is ready to go, here’s how to download Windows 11.
Mark Hachman / IDG
Eventually, everyone will have Windows 11 pushed to them via Windows Update. You should get a notification when it’s ready, but if you haven’t seen one yet, you can check manually. Head toward Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for updates.
Microsoft recommends this method over others, so going the lazy route is perfectly acceptable. Some users may experience hardware and software issues when forcing an upgrade early. Overall, waiting can be beneficial – Windows 11 continually receives new tweaks and additions over time.
Note: This method is the only way to get Windows 11 for PCs with an Arm processor (e.g. Qualcomm Snapdragon chips.)
Windows 11 Setup Wizard
Windows Update still not spitting out Windows 11? For PCs with an Intel or AMD processor, you can follow the process using the Windows 11 Setup Assistant. This program has a user-friendly interface that does the work of downloading Windows 11 and then launching its installation.
To get started, download and run the installation wizard. If you haven’t run the PC Health Check app as part of checking your PC’s Windows 11 compatibility yet, you’ll be prompted to download and install this app. After receiving the green light, you can continue with Windows 11.
Sometimes you need or want to use a bootable USB or DVD to install Windows 11, maybe the installation wizard does not work for Windows 10 to Windows 11 upgrade. Or maybe a clean install is required because you want to completely erase Windows 10 or you have a PC that does not yet have an operating system.
For the files needed to create this installation media, go to Microsoft’s Windows 11 download page. Existing Windows users can use Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool, which handles downloading USB drives and DVDs. Mac and Linux need to grab ISO file for Windows 11.
Thereafter, you may need to take a few additional steps to create your media. The media creation tool only produces bootable USB drives. You need to burn the DVDs yourself after the download is complete. If you grabbed the ISO directly, the process of creating a bootable USB or DVD is also up to you.
do not forget
Once you are done downloading Windows 11, you also need to install it. For smooth navigation, we recommend that you review our Windows 11 upgrade checklist before you begin, as well as our guide on how to upgrade to Windows 11. If nothing else, back up your PC (if applicable) before installing Windows 11. Even if you plan to keep all your files and apps, sometimes a simple upgrade can go wrong.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s Resident Bargain Hunter. When it’s not covering PC construction, computer components, mini PCs, and more, it seeks out the best tech deals. Previously, his work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.