The next iteration of Microsoft’s Windows operating system is finally here. Tap or click here for the best Windows 11 features. The download is made available for free and packs a host of new features.
The beta version has been available to Windows Insiders for some time, and reviews seem positive (so far). At first glance, it looks like Microsoft took all the best elements from macOS and Linux, swirled them around a bit and slapped a Windows logo on it.
That isn’t a bad thing, as Windows 10 could have done with a new coat of paint. After all, the operating system is six years old. In terms of technology lifecycles, that is an eternity. Read on to find out what’s new and how to get the major upgrade for free.
Here’s the backstory
Other than a complete overhaul of the user interface, some elements under the hood are different. The main features of Windows 11 include:
- The Start menu is now in the center of the screen.
- Windows 11 will let PC users run Android apps.
- You can access more widgets directly from the taskbar.
- The taskbar is centered, and will integrate the search function and chat from Microsoft Teams.
- Virtual desktops are easier to use.
- Snap Groups and Snap Layouts will group the same windows and apps together.
- It will also get features previously only found on Xbox, like AutoHDR and DirectStorage.
Can you run Windows 11?
The new operating system won’t be of much use if you are greeted with a notice that your system is incompatible. Microsoft recently revamped its PC Health Check app, which will tell you if minimum system requirements are met.
But fear not if the result is negative. You can still download it when it becomes available, but there are some risks that you need to know. Microsoft won’t stop anyone from installing the free upgrade, but you might have to sign a waiver. Tap or click here for details.
Essentially you agree that you can’t hold Microsoft liable if Windows 11 damages your machine and “your PC will no longer be supported and won’t be entitled to receive upgrades.” Since your PC doesn’t meet requirements, you agree to take the risk.
In case you need to double-check, you’ll need:
- 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
- 4GB of RAM
- 64 GB or larger storage device
- UEFI, Secure Boot capable system firmware
- Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
- Graphics card compatible with DirectX 12
- High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per color channel
Can you download Windows 11 on day one?
Windows 11 officially launches on Oct. 5, 2021, and many will undoubtedly try to get their hands on the upgrade as soon as possible. But some eager users might be disappointed to discover that not everyone will have access to it on day one.
If that’s the case, it buys you a bit more time to prepare your PC for the new software and to do some maintenance. Here are some suggestions:
- Create a backup of your computer by going through personal files and folders. Copy anything that is important to you onto an external hard drive.
- Make sure that you have all the product keys for software that you need to reinstall afterwards.
- Before installing Windows 11, go online and look for important drivers that you’ll need when the process is complete.
- Make sure that you have or know the passwords to your browser manager or any encrypted files.