Want to download Windows 11? You need to do these two things first

Before you install Microsoft's latest OS, there's a couple things you have to do.

Alison DeNisco Rayome Managing 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.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome
3 min read
Windows 11 update on a laptop

You'll need to take two extra steps before you can download Windows 11.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Windows 11 began rolling out in October and brings a new, more streamlined design and updated features, including support for Android apps, easy toggling between multiple virtual desktops and better multitasking. Microsoft included a few Mac-like features and the ability to run Android apps on Windows 11

Watch this: Windows 11: Will your computer be able to run it? What to know

But there are a few catches to downloading the new operating system. For starters, Microsoft is using a phased rollout for Windows 11. And before you download, you'll need a Wi-Fi connection and a Windows 11 Home account. However, Windows 10 users can upgrade for free (here's how to get Windows 10 first so you can download Windows 11). But if you're setting up a Windows 11 Home account -- which most people using it on a personal device will be -- there are a few extra steps you'll have to take before accessing the new features.

Read more: Windows 11 review: Familiar but fresh

We'll break down everything you need to know before downloading Windows 11, including how to check if your computer is compatible to make sure you meet the new requirements. And here's what to know if you're thinking of upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11 Home. This story was recently updated. 

Create a Microsoft account (or sign in to yours)


You'll need to create a free Microsoft account before you download Windows 11. 


To set up Windows 11 Home, you'll need a Microsoft account, which gives you access to Microsoft products and services. Don't worry -- it's free to create one. 

In the past, it was possible to opt out of creating a Microsoft account and use a local one instead (though the process wasn't intuitive). It appears that with Windows 11, you will need to create a Microsoft account to get started. After that point, you can delete your Microsoft account and sign in with a local account if you'd like, and this won't impact how you use the OS -- but you won't be able to sync content across multiple devices. A Microsoft account also allows easier transferring from your old PC to a new one, and more options for signing in. 

Windows 11 Pro and the version built for enterprise use will not require people to sign in to Microsoft accounts.

Here's how to create a free Microsoft account as Windows 11 rolls out:

1. Go to account.microsoft.com, and click Sign in.

2. Tap Create one to make a new account. (If you already have an account, you can sign in here.)

3. Enter your email address. Or, if you'd rather create a new email address through Microsoft (which will appear as @outlook.com), click Get a new email address, enter what you'd like, and click Next. 

4. Create a password, and click Next.

5. Enter your country/region and date of birth, and click Next

6. Check your email for a verification code, and click Next.

Connect to the internet 

Windows 11 update on a laptop

You need to have an internet connection to set up Windows 11.

Sarah Tew/CNET

To download Windows 11 Home (and to create a Microsoft account), you'll also need to be connected to the internet. The reason for this is that Windows 11 will primarily be delivered as a Windows Update, much like newer versions of Windows 10 have been.

You'll also need the internet to perform future updates and to take advantage of some of the new Windows 11 features, according to Microsoft. 

This requirement may pose a problem for those who lack easy internet access. However, after you connect for the initial setup, you don't have to connect again if you don't want to (though you should to get important security updates that prevent vulnerabilities). 

If you're downloading Windows 11 on your current computer, just make sure you're connected to the internet before you start the process. If you buy a new Windows 11 computer after the OS is generally released, you should be prompted to connect to the internet when you're setting it up.

For more, check out how Windows 11 compares with Windows 10, everything to know about making the upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 and all the Windows 11 features we wanted but didn't get

Watch this: Windows 11 review: New OS has us asking, update or wait?