Microsoft has officially announced Windows 11, the next major software update that will be coming to all compatible PCs later this year. It's a big deal because it's promising a ton of new features, including an all-new layout (that actually looks very similar to a Mac), the ability to run Android apps on your PC, and an all-around better gaming experience.
When is Windows 11 coming out?
Microsoft hasn't given us an exact release date for Windows 11 just yet, but some leaked press images indicated that the release date is October 20. Microsoft's official webpage says "coming later this year."
If you're champing at the bit and want to get an early access to Windows 11, you can go and download the public beta right now.
How to download the Windows 11 beta right now
Is Windows 11 available right now? In a manner of speaking, yes. Microsoft has released an early version of Windows 11 into the "beta channel" of its preview program, which means you can get a first-hand peek at Windows 11 right now if you jump through a few hoops.
First, you'll have to sign up as a member of the Windows Preview Program. You can do that by hopping on your Windows 10 PC and going to Settings > Updates & Security > Windows Preview Program and clicking Get started.
When you link a Microsoft Account, you'll be prompted to Pick Your Insider Settings. Choose The Beta Channel, and reboot your computer when prompted. After that, new preview builds will be available in Settings > Updates & Security and you can get an early build of Windows 11 right now.
Will Windows 11 be free?
Windows 10, like previous versions of Windows before it, was a paid product. Fortunately, however, Windows 11 will be available as a free upgrade to Windows 10. The prompt to upgrade will roll out after its official release this fall, and you'll have the option switching to the new version or sticking with Windows 10, which will continue to be supported until 2025.
What are the new features in Windows 11?
One of the most notable changes with Windows 11 is how it looks. The Start menu is no longer in the bottom-left corner of your screen, but it the center. The Taskbar is now centered at the bottom of the screen, making it look similar to the Dock on a Mac, and it has a cleaner look (no more Live Tiles). You'll be able to access your personalized Widgets directly from the Taskbar, too.
As far as features, there are a lot. You'll be able to install and run Android apps natively on Windows 11. The gaming experience will be all-around better thanks to a new Xbox app support for features for on Xbox consoles, such as Auto HDR and DirectStorage, which should make games look better and load faster. And Microsoft Teams is going to be more easily accessible (directly from the Taskbar) and integrated into more apps.
When is the official Windows 11 for the public?
Microsoft hasn't given us an exact, full release date when Windows 11 will be available for the public outside its optional beta program, but some leaked press images indicated that the release date is October 20. Microsoft's official webpage says "coming later this year."
What are the system requirements for Windows 11?
If your PC is already running Windows 10, there's a pretty good chance that it will be compatible with Windows 11. But to be sure, you can download the PC Health Check app right now and it will be able to tell you if your specific machine will be compatible.
The full list of minimum requirements needed for a device to run Windows 11 are on Microsoft's website, but here's the gist:
- a 1 GHz, 2-core, 64-bit Windows-compatible processor
- 4 GB of RAM
- 64 GB of storage
- an internet connection for initial setup and updates
Additional requirements are necessary for specific features such as:
- a microphone for Cortana support
- an infrared-capable webcam or fingerprint reader for biometric Windows Hello features