The next iteration of Microsoft’s operating system was recently revealed as Windows 11. The OS sports a new look, Android compatibility, a personalized feed, better support for games and more.
Windows 11 will launch as a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and new PCs in the fall. Tap or click here to find out how to check your Windows 11 eligibility and hardware compatibility.
You can preview Windows 11 right now through the Windows Insider Program. But beware of third-party sites advertising Windows 11 downloads that are much more than you bargained for.
Here’s the backstory
You can test drive Windows 11 by signing up for the Windows Insider Program. You get to see early versions of Windows updates and features and provide feedback for future builds. You can even engage with the engineers who develop Windows.
You can register for the Windows Insider Program here. To get started, you must have a Microsoft account or work account in the Azure Active Directory (AAD). And you need to have Windows 10 already installed.
When running an early version of any major software, especially an OS, it’s a good idea to use a secondary device. You are test driving it at your own risk, and there’s no reason to put your important files and documents at risk. Use a secondary PC if you want to try out the early version of Windows.
Apple’s Beta Software Program is your entry point to test out new Apple programs and features, including future versions of iOS. Tap or click here to for a rundown of iOS 15 changes and instructions on how to take the beta out for a spin.
For some reason, people are going to unofficial sources to try out Windows 11. What they’re often getting is fake installers loaded with malware. This can range from adware to Trojans, password stealers and more.
Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky found hundreds of infection attempts involving Windows 11-related scams. Cybercriminals are either offering downloads with extra software or entirely malicious programs.
One example mimics a Windows installation wizard and comes with an additional program with its own license agreement. Once you accept the agreement, your PC is infected with malware.
Please stick with official sources for your downloads, and remember to have a backup device for your test runs. It’s always a good idea to back up your critical files, even if you’re not beta testing. We recommend using our sponsor, IDrive.
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How to join the Windows Insider Program
If you want to take advantage of early sneak peeks of upcoming Windows 10 builds, sign up for Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program. Just remember that even the final versions of Windows updates are often filled with problems, so if you decide to sign up for the Insider Program, it’s at your own risk.
Note: Before you install a potentially unstable operating system, make sure to have a complete backup of your machine with a service that you can trust. We recommend IDrive. Save 50% when you sign up at IDrive.com and use promo code Kim at checkout.
To join the Windows Insider Program, make sure you already have a Microsoft Account. Here’s the easiest way to join:
- Open the Start menu and click on Settings
- On the left, look for Update & Security, then Windows Insider Program
- Click Get Started and follow the prompts to link your Microsoft account
Again, these are often works in progress, so take a few minutes to weigh the pros and cons. If you’re on your primary computer you use for work or other important tasks, proceed at your own risk.
Windows 11 will launch as a free upgrade (if you qualify)