But it also comes with a lot of questions. Will Windows 11 be a free upgrade like Windows 10 was? While Microsoft hasn’t announced anything officially yet, the answer seems to be yes.
So what is Windows 11?
Windows 11 is the next major version of Windows, and on paper, it’s the first we’ve had in six years. That’s a very long time, considering that new Windows versions were arriving every three years or so. The reason this happened was because Windows 10 was an operating system that was constantly being updated. Instead of only getting new features every two to three years, Windows 10 received feature updates twice a year. These will add new features and sometimes make very big changes.
Seeing the name Windows 11 might make you think that this is a complete chapter from it all, but that’s not entirely true.
We’ve been hearing about a major visual update for Windows for a while under the codename Sun Valley. For a few months, we thought this would be just another Windows 10 feature update. And it looks like Microsoft is working with a whole new brand. But that doesn’t change the fact that, in essence, it’s still Windows 10. It has a completely different look, with some inspiration from a finished project called Windows 10X.
What does that mean to upgrade?
If you are using Windows 10, installing Windows 11 will most likely be similar to installing a Windows 10 feature update. Based on the leaked build we have our hands on now, the update process is quite smooth and all user data is preserved. If you are already using Windows 10 and have a valid license, you can easily upgrade to Windows 11 for free and without major challenges. In fact, you can most likely perform a clean install of Windows 11 on your computer and activate it immediately.
If you are using Windows 7 or 8.1, there is good news for you too. Again, Microsoft hasn’t announced it officially, but Windows 11 does contain configuration files meant for users upgrading from these versions of Windows. Windows 10 was also a free upgrade for these users, and it looks like Windows 11 will be the same.
The difference here will be the method of installing the update only. Windows 11 will likely not be offered through Windows Update, so you will have to use the Media Creation Tool to update your PC. Windows 11 will take your registry key and convert it into a valid Windows 11 license. If you are using the original version of Windows 8, you will need to install Windows 8.1 first before upgrading, because Windows 8 is no longer supported. This is also a free upgrade.
That’s all because Microsoft wants Windows to be as unified as possible.
That’s since its release for Windows 10, we’ve often heard the company talk about how many devices the operating system is running. Last month at Build, CEO Satya Nadella said there are now 1.3 billion devices running Windows 10. It wouldn’t make sense for the company to segment its user base again.
Also keep in mind that this does not mean that Windows 11 itself is free. You still need a valid license, but if you’re using an earlier version of Windows, that license will still apply. Also, most laptops you can buy include a Windows license, so you won’t have to buy it again. If you don’t have a valid Windows license, you’ll need to purchase Windows 11, just as was the case with Windows 10.