Relax, no one's forcing you to upgrade to Windows 11
You still have some time to decide if you want to upgrade to Windows 11.
Alison DeNisco RayomeManaging Editor
Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
ExpertiseHome Tips, including cooking, cleaning and appliances hacksCredentials
National Silver Azbee Award for Impact/Investigative Journalism; National Gold Azbee Award for Online Single Topic Coverage by a Team; National Bronze Azbee Award for Web Feature Series
When is Microsoft ending support for Windows 10, and why?
Support for Windows 10 will end on Oct. 14, 2025. That means Microsoft will no longer provide security patches or feature updates for the Home, Pro, Enterprise, Pro Education and Pro for Workstations editions at this time -- affecting virtually all Windows 10 users. (The only people who have until 2029 are the few Windows 10 Enterprise Long Term Support Channel users.)
This doesn't come as a surprise: Microsoft has a long-established Fixed Lifestyle Policy for many of its products. For each version of its OS, the company offers a minimum of 10 years of support (at least five years of mainstream support like security updates and no-charge incident support, followed by five years of extended support like paid troubleshooting).
Do I have to make the switch to Windows 11? Will my Windows 10 computer stop working after Microsoft pulls support?
You'll still be able to use your Windows 10 computer the same way you have been, just like a lot of people are still using Windows 7 or Windows 8, though Microsoft pulled support for both of those in recent years. However, once support ends, you won't get any security updates, which could leave your computer vulnerable -- many forms of malware target Windows devices.
It depends. If you recently bought a new PC, that computer should be able to run Windows 11. To see if your current Windows 10 PC is eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11, go to Microsoft's website for a list of requirements.
How do I upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11? How much will it cost me?
If you're already a Windows 10 user and have a compatible computer, Windows 11 will appear as a free upgrade for your machine once it becomes available for you. Microsoft's new OS is gradually rolling out between now and mid-2022.
Once Windows 11 becomes available for you, you'll download it the same way you would any new version of Windows. Most users will go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Check for Updates. If available, you'll see Feature update to Windows 11. Click Download and install. (Here's more information on how to download Windows 11. If you haven't yet upgraded to Windows 10, you may still be able to download Windows 10 free, too -- here's how.)
What's the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11, anyway?
Windows 11 gets a new visual design and several new features that aim to make navigating your computer easier, whether for personal use, work or both. Here are some of the biggest changes in Windows 11:
A new, more Mac-like interface: Windows 11 features a clean design with rounded corners, pastel shades and a centered Start menu and Taskbar.
Microsoft Teams integration: Teams is getting a face-lift and will be integrated directly into the Windows 11 Taskbar, making it easier to access (and a bit more like Apple's FaceTime). You'll be able to access Teams from Windows, Mac, Android or iOS.
Better virtual desktop support:Windows 11 will let you set up virtual desktops in a way that's more similar to MacOS, toggling between multiple desktops for personal, work, school or gaming use.
Easier transition from monitor to laptop, and better multitasking:The new OS includes features called Snap Groups and Snap Layouts -- collections of the apps you're using at once that sit in the Taskbar, and can come up or be minimized at the same time for easier task switching. They also let you plug and unplug from a monitor more easily without losing where your open windows are located.