May 20, 2024


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Windows 11’s release date is today, but not everyone will get it at once

Windows 11 update on a laptop

Microsoft says Windows 11 will start rolling out on Oct. 5. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Windows 11 will begin its wide release today. We’ve already tested and published a full review of Windows 11 (it’s familiar, but fresh). Microsoft’s first major operating system update in six years is available as a free download for existing Windows users starting today, but the OS won’t roll out to every compatible Windows device at once and it won’t have every major new feature promised just yet, Microsoft said in an August blog post

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While the first general release of Windows 11 will include features like a more streamlined, Mac-like design, an updated Start menu, new multitasking tools and integrated Microsoft Teams, it will not include one of the most anticipated updates: support for Android mobile apps in its new app store. Microsoft also didn’t offer a date for when Android apps would be available either, other than saying that they would roll out in a “preview” test “over the coming months,” according to the post.

And just because you have a compatible Windows device doesn’t mean you’ll be able to run Windows 11 starting today. The launch will be “phased and measured,” with new eligible devices getting the upgrade first and the rest getting offered the free upgrade sometime between October and mid-2022, depending on your hardware, age of device and other factors. You’ll get a notification from Windows Update letting you know when Windows 11 is available to you, or you can check manually (here’s more on how to download Windows 11 when the time comes and how to try the preview version). 

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When it unveiled Windows 11 in June, Microsoft had said the OS would begin rolling out around the holiday season and continue into 2022. But several subsequent hints suggested that the release date would actually be in October: During the reveal event, a Microsoft Teams message popped up on the demo screen that said “excited to turn it up to 11… can’t wait for October!” And many press images for Windows 11 include a date of Oct. 20 in the taskbar, The Verge noted. Plus, Walmart’s website lists a “free Upgrade to Windows October 2021 when available” on certain laptops. Microsoft confirmed the Oct. 5 release date on its blog at the end of August.

Until Microsoft’s new operating system arrives, you can check to see if your computer will be able to automatically update to Windows 11 (you’ll need to be running Windows 10 first to do so — here’s how to download Windows 10 for free if you haven’t yet). But even if it isn’t deemed compatible, there will be a way to manually download a version that is not supported by Microsoft. 

You also don’t have to upgrade to Windows 11 right away if you don’t want to — Microsoft will still support Windows 10 through October 2025. 

For more, check out the every big difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11 and what you’ll need to do before you upgrade to Windows 11

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