There are a few ways to download Microsoft's latest operating system. We walk you through the steps.
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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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Windows 11 is here and ready for you. Last August, Microsoft estimated that "all eligible devices [will] be offered the free upgrade to Windows 11 by mid-2022." Microsoft beat that timeframe with the general deployment of Windows 11 on May 17.
In January, Microsoft announced that users are upgrading to Windows 11 at twice the rate they did for Windows 10. The company's new operating system has been rolling out to eligible devices ever since Microsoft launched it last October. Everyone using Windows 10 can now upgrade for free -- if they have a compatible computer.
Read on to find out how the Windows 11 Installation Assistant is your shortcut to Windows 11.
If you haven't updated to Windows 10 yet, don't worry -- there's a trick for downloading Windows 10 free that still works. That trick will be the same one you use if you want to manually upgrade an older machine to Windows 11, though Microsoft doesn't encourage doing this as it may not be eligible for the same updates.
Watch this: How to install Windows 11 with an update or a bootable USB
How to download Windows 11
Users can download Windows 11 the same way you'd get any new version of Windows. Just go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Check for Updates. You'll see Feature update to Windows 11. Click Download and install.
You can also use the Windows 11 Installation Assistant. You have to download the assistant and click Run to make sure your hardware is compatible. Then Accept and Install to agree to the licensing terms and begin the installation. When the program is finished installing, you'll be prompted to restart your computer. Your PC might restart several times during the process of finishing the installation, so don't be alarmed. Just keep your PC on until everything's done.
You have other options too, but be warned that these are more complicated. If you're certain you want to proceed, you can create Windows 11 installation media or an ISO file. Microsoft's download Windows 11 page has those steps in greater detail.
The update marks the first major change to Microsoft's operating system since Windows 10 launched in 2015. Rumors about a major Windows redesign have been circulating for the past year. At the Microsoft Build developers conference on May 25 last year, CEO Satya Nadella said Microsoft was planning "one of the most significant updates of Windows of the past decade," confirming that a major change was on the horizon for the 1.3 billion users of the OS in 2021. And in mid-June, Microsoft quietly announced that it would end support for Windows 10 in 2025 as leaked images of Windows 11 spread.