Windows 11 is just around the corner. Microsoft announced ‘the next generation of Windows’ at a virtual event on 24 June, and confirmed that the new OS would launch later this year.
An early build is now available to members of the Windows Insider Program, and anyone is free to download it. However, not all the new features advertised are available, and it’s likely to be unstable.
Understandably, many people are waiting for the final version to arrive before updating their PCs. But how long might you have to wait? Here’s what we know so far.
When is Windows 11 coming to my PC?
At the Windows 11 event, Microsoft confirmed that Windows 11 will be available “this holiday season”. If you’re not based in the US, this usually refers to the time between Thanksgiving at the end of November and the New Year.
We’ve never seen big updates to Windows this late in a calendar year, and there are signs it’ll be brought forward to October. In one official Windows 11 screenshot, Microsoft’s Stevie Bathiche references October and the number 11 in a Teams message.
The local device date here is 6 October, while other images show it being 20 October. This is highly unlikely to be a coincidence.
Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for compatible Windows 10 devices, but that doesn’t mean your PC will be updated come October.
The official Windows Twitter account suggests we’ll be waiting quite a while longer:
Windows 11 is due out later in 2021 and will be delivered over several months. The rollout of the upgrade to Windows 10 devices already in use today will begin in 2022 through the first half of that year.— Windows (@Windows) June 25, 2021
This indicates Microsoft will throttle up availability in order to manage demand, as it does with Windows 10 feature updates. Depending on the age of your hardware, you could be waiting until June 2022 before you can download it.
Which devices will get Windows 11?
Over the course of the next few years, Windows 11 is expected to run on hundreds of millions of PCs. Microsoft will hope to get close to the 1.3bn Windows 10 devices, but the updated hardware requirements make that unlikely anytime soon.
Learn more in our separate article: Will my PC run Windows 11?
Aside from downloading an early build, your quickest route to Windows 11 will therefore be to buy a device with the software pre-installed.
Microsoft’s Surface range will likely be first in line – the company usually launches new hardware each October. The Surface Pro 8 is the most likely candidate, but don’t rule out a third-gen models of the Surface Pro X and Surface Go.
We haven’t heard many rumours about a new Surface Studio, but surely Microsoft will update its all-in-one PC soon. 2018’s Surface Studio 2, still available to buy via the Microsoft website (from £3,549/US$3,499.99), uses 7th-gen Intel CPUs. Only 8th-gen and above are supported on Windows 11, meaning the Studio 2 isn’t compatible.
Once the new OS is officially released, expect plenty more OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to launch Windows 11-powered PCs. Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung all featured in the Windows 11 trailer, so look out for at least some third-party hardware before 2021 is out. Eventually, all Windows 10 PC makers will likely transition to Windows 11.
Will Windows 10 continue to be updated?
Yes. On the official Lifecycle page, Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 Home and Pro will continue to be supported until 14 October 2025 – that's over a decade after both first launched.
This is expected to include a 21H2 feature update, and there will still be a few new features of note. However, this could be the last major update Windows 10 will get.