Windows 11 is here and Microsoft has detailed how the phased rollout will work. The first systems to get the operating system are new devices on which it's pre-loaded. Starting on October 5th, Microsoft will initially offer the free upgrade to new PCs, laptops and tablets that ship with Windows 10.
Next, Microsoft says it will look at hardware eligibility, reliability metrics and other factors on existing Windows 10 devices to determine when to offer the latest OS through Windows Update. It's a similar approach to how the company has handled Windows 10 feature updates over the years. You can find out whether your device is compatible using the PC Health Check app.
Microsoft will let you know when Windows 11 is ready for your system via the Windows Update Settings page or when you check for updates. You might be in for a wait, though. The company expects to offer the upgrade to all eligible Windows 10 devices by mid-2022.
Windows Update is Microsoft's suggested Windows 11 upgrade method, and likely the easiest one for most people. However, you can install the OS manually if you prefer. You can download the Installation Assistant or use an ISO install.
Microsoft doesn't recommend installing Windows 11 on devices that don't meet the system requirements, but you'll still be able to do so. It's worth noting that you might not get Windows 11 updates on PCs with unsupported processors.
However you decide to make the switch to Windows 11, it's probably best to back up all of your files first. The OS is likely stable at this point, but it's not worth taking the risk that something will go awry and cause you to lose important data.
Meanwhile, Microsoft says today marks the start of the 24-month lifecycle for Windows 11 Home and Pro editions, as well as the beginning of 36 months of servicing support for the Enterprise and Education versions.