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Windows 11: The FAQ
What we know about Microsoft's next computer operating system... and what we still do not
So! Windows 11 is coming whether people like it, need it or not - and there's still much we do not know about the operating system that will be taking the mantle from Windows 10, the world's most popular computer OS right now. After taking a few questions about it from friends and colleagues I thought it would be useful to put together an FAQ with the things that we do know right now and make a story out of it. Here it is!
What is Windows 11?
It is the successor to Windows 10. It is based largely on the same code but offers a redesigned look along with new tools, sounds and apps. Microsoft claims that all changes and additions, big and small "come together to bring you a refreshing experience on your PC".
When will it be released?
In 2021, but it will happen in two stages. At first, it will only be pre-installed on new PCs that many computer manufacturers are already preparing and certifying. The first PCs carrying Windows 11 are expected in October. Then, at some point, Microsoft will begin making the new OS available as an upgrade to current Windows 10 users. There's still no official starting date for the upgrade rollout, but Microsoft expects most Windows 10 PCs to be offered the Windows 11 upgrade in 2022.
How much will it cost and how can I get it?
Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for all Windows 10 users whose computers are eligible for it. Windows 7 and Windows 8 users are not included in the free upgrade offer. For people that want to install Windows 11 in new PCs (clean install) the cost will probably be the same it is today for Windows 10 (it varies greatly between different versions). Microsoft has not officially revealed stand-alone Windows 11 pricing yet.
How long will Microsoft's free upgrade offer last?
It is not clear yet whether there will be an end date for this offer for eligible systems, but Microsoft states that it "reserves the right to eventually end support for it" (legalese?). Still, the company promises that this end date "will be no sooner than one year from general availability". What we do know is that consumers making the jump from Windows 10 to Windows 11 will only have 10 days to decide whether they like the new OS, if they want a complete rollback to their previous software environment.
What are the system requirements of Windows 11?
The following: a 2-core, 64-bit processor (x86/64 or ARM64) operating at 1 GHz, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage space, a DirectX12-compatible graphics card and a 9-inch display of 1366×768 pixel resolution. The PC in question should also have a UEFI BIOS and offer the Secure Boot option as well as a v2.0 Trusted Platform Module (TPM). An Internet connection and Microsoft account will be required to complete the first-time setup on Windows 11 Home (but not Pro... for some reason).
How can I know whether my Windows 10 PC meets the Windows 11 requirements?
Well, you can if you know the exact hardware of your PC, but relatively few people do (especially those BIOS settings and options). The general rule of thumb is that if your PC is about three years old or newer it probably checks all the boxes, but there are exceptions (sigh). Microsoft offered an assessment tool for a few days after the Windows 11 announcement but then made it unavailable because it obviously needed work. The company will offer it again before the Windows 11 upgrade rollout, so the wise thing to do for now is wait until it does.
If I buy a new Windows 10-based PC today, will it be eligible for the Windows 11 upgrade?
It probably will be, but it's not a bad idea to check with the PC's manufacturer just to be 100% sure. It's expected that many or even most new PCs will carry a "Windows 11-compatible" label of some sort come September.
Will my Windows 10 peripherals and accessories work with Windows 11?
Yes, that will most probably be the case - they largely use the same software drivers - but it may be wise to check with the manufacturer of a peripheral or accessory if it happens to be rare or specialized.
I am not interested in Windows 11, can I keep using Windows 10?
Absolutely. The upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 is not mandatory in any way. Microsoft will be fully supporting Windows 10, releasing security updates for it, until October 2025. We all expect that the company will not be adding any new functionality worth mentioning to Windows 10 after 2021, just keeping it secure and running smoothly.
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Have a nice weekend!