Windows 11 will be available on October 5th

The OS won't support Android apps out of the gate, though.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

After months of hype, Windows 11 has a release date. Microsoft has announced that Windows 11 will be available on October 5th, both as a free upgrade for qualifying Windows 10 systems as well as new PCs shipping with the OS pre-installed.

Don't assume you'll get the upgrade on day one, though. This is a gradual rollout that will prioritize newer hardware and use "intelligence models" to determine who gets the upgrade first, including reliability and device age. All supporting machines will get the update by mid-2022, but this suggests you may be toward the back of the queue if you're using relatively old hardware. At least some shipping Windows 10 PCs will be on the fast track for Windows 11 updates, including models from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and (of course) Microsoft.

Notably, though, Android app support won't be available on launch. Microsoft now only expects to introduce the feature in a Windows Insider preview build sometime in the "coming months." That's not completely shocking given the challenges of translating mobile apps to a mouse-and-keyboard experience, but this still means one of Windows 11's tentpole features won't be available for a long while.

The new platform centers on a refreshed interface with a new Start interface, Snap Layouts, widgets and Teams integration. You'll also find a redesigned Microsoft Store that even lets third-party stores operate within its walls. Technology like DirectX 12, DirectStorage and Auto HDR also promise to help gamers.

This might not be Microsoft's smoothest launch, however. On top of the delayed Android feature, Microsoft sparked some confusion with relatively steep hardware requirements that have evolved over time and include demands for security features like TPM 2.0. Microsoft will technically let you install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware, but you might be denied updates unless you're willing to install new OS images on a frequent basis. Unlike Windows 10, then, you can't just assume your years-old computer will run this software without a hitch — there's a chance you'll have to upgrade your hardware first, even if it's still fast enough for your needs.