Windows 11 is on the way, and if you’re already a Windows 10 user, it will be free to upgrade to Microsoft’s newly redesigned operating system, the company said in a blog post after its virtual event on Thursday. (Find everything you need to know about Windows 11 here.) So long as your PC meets the minimum requirements, you’ll be able to update to Windows 11 the same way you usually update Windows 10 — once it starts rolling out during the 2021 holiday season and into 2022 (we don’t have an exact date yet).
To see if your current Windows 10 PC is eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11, visit Windows.com to download the PC Health Check app. (Here’s a set of full instructions for how to use the PC Health Check app and what information it will tell you.) And if you buy a new PC between now and the general release, that computer will also be eligible for the free upgrade.
If you haven’t updated to Windows 10 yet, don’t worry — there’s a trick for downloading Windows 10 free that still works. Now would be a good time to make the switch to prepare your machine for the Windows 11 upgrade.
Read more: Android apps coming to Windows 11: Everything we know right now
How to download Windows 11, once it’s available
Once Windows 11 becomes available, you’ll download it the same way you would with any new version of Windows. Most users will go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and clicking Check for Updates. If available, you’ll see Feature update to Windows 11. Click Download and install.
If you want to test out Windows 11 ahead of time, an early beta version will be available next week for those in the Windows Insider Program, and a public beta will be released in July. However, we only recommend installing a beta if you have a second tester device — not on your main device, as there are likely to be bugs.
Windows 11 features a streamlined new design, with pastel-like colors, rounded corners, a new startup sound and overall a more Mac-like look. The Windows Start menu has moved from the bottom left of the screen to the middle, with app icons arranged in the center next to it. You’ll also find lots of new desktop tools, like widgets that can give you at-a-glance information, and easier virtual desktop creation. And Android apps will be integrated into Windows and installable from the Microsoft Store. (Check out all of the best Windows 11 features and how to use them.)
The update marks the first major change to Microsoft’s operating system since Windows 10 launched back in 2015. Rumors about a major Windows redesign have been circulating for the past year. At the Microsoft Build developers conference on May 25, CEO Satya Nadella said Microsoft was planning “one of the most significant updates of Windows of the past decade,” confirming that a major change was on the horizon for the 1.3 billion users of the OS in 2021. And in mid-June, Microsoft quietly announced that it would end support for Windows 10 in 2025 as leaked images of Windows 11 spread.
For more, check out everything we wanted to see in Windows 11 but didn’t, and all of the big differences between Windows 10 and Windows 11.
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