After six years of Windows 10, Microsoft has decided to turn it up to 11. The company launched a brand-new version of Windows at its 24 June virtual event, and its arriving on compatible devices later this year.
Windows 11 is a significant overhaul of the Windows experience we’ve become so familiar with, offering plenty of visual changes, new functionality and the ability to run Android apps natively for the first time.
There’s an argument for these new features could have been delivered in a Windows 10 update instead, but there’s no doubt Windows 11 is a significant step forward. With the OS set to be free for the foreseeable future, upgrading feels like a no-brainer.
When does Windows 11 come out?
Microsoft is yet to give any specifics when it comes to the Windows 11 release date, simply stating it will arrive in the ‘Holiday’ season of 2021. For those of you not based in the US, this refers to the period between Thanksgiving at the end of November and the New Year.
In tech spheres, this is often expanded to also include the rest of November and October. It open up the possibility of launching Windows 11 in Microsoft’s usual October slot for Windows 10 updates, but that’s pure speculation at this stage.
However, Microsoft did confirm on 24 June that an early build of Windows 11 would be available to members of the Windows Insider Program ‘next week’. It may be missing some of the features we’ll see in the final build, but gives us a good idea of what to expect.
How to get Windows 11 for free: Download it
Upgrading to Windows 11 will be free indefinitely, so there’s no clever workaround needed to get it without paying. However, your device will need to meet the updated hardware requirements – learn more in our separate article on whether your PC will run Windows 11.
If you want to be among the first to try out the new OS, you’ll need to sign up to the Windows Insider Program. This is open to everyone with a Windows 10 device and Microsoft account, and you can sign up within a few clicks in Settings. See our dedicated article on the Insider Program to learn more.
Whether you’re now a Windows Insider or not, the process of downloading Windows 11 remains the same:
- Open Settings
- Head to ‘Update and Security’ and make sure the ‘Windows Update’ section is selected
- If no updates are already available, click ‘Check for updates’
- Once Windows 11 is ready for your device, it will appear here. Click the ‘Download and install now’ button to update your device
What’s more, Microsoft says major updates will now be 40% smaller than before, meaning they’ll download quicker. They will also now be able to take place the background, so your PC will remain usable until a restart is needed.
How to get Windows 11 for free: Buy a new PC
Ok, so this isn’t really a free method – buying a new laptop or desktop will cost you hundreds or even thousands of pounds/dollars.
However, once Windows 11 arrives, almost all newly-released PCs will come with Windows 11 pre-installed. Microsoft’s own Surface range was featured alongside Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung in the official trailer, and there’ll be plenty more to come. Expect almost every manufacturer who currently makes Windows 10 devices to transition to Windows 11.
Windows 11 is now just around the corner, and it’ll be easier than ever to get your hands on it.