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Guide: How you can check if your computer meets Microsoft’s requirements
Windows 11 is almost here, and the big question on a lot of PC-users’ minds since Microsoft unveiled its first major operating system upgrade in six years is: Will my computer be compatible? There’s been some confusion about device compatibility since Microsoft’s big announcement of the updated OS earlier this summer. But the short answer is that Windows 11 should work with most PCs, according to a company blog post.
Annoyingly, Microsoft’s own tool for determining device compatibility — the PC Health Check app — wasn’t up to par when Microsoft first announced Windows 11 earlier this year (there were reports it didn’t give people enough information about why their devices weren’t compatible), so the company temporarily removed the app. But Microsoft’s PC Health Check is now back online and in working order. The app will tell you if your computer meets the requirements to run Windows 11, and if it doesn’t, it will tell you why and provide links for more support.
Here’s every detail we know so far about Windows 11, including price, compatibility, release date, how to download the beta and new features.
7 new features included in Windows 11
Here are a few of the standout new features in Windows 11:
- A new, more Mac-like interface. Windows 11 features a clean design with rounded corners, pastel shades and a centered Start menu and Taskbar.
- Integrated Android apps. Android apps will be coming to Windows 11 and installable from within the new Microsoft Store via the Amazon Appstore. (There were a couple of ways to access Android apps on Windows 10, including if you had a Samsung Galaxy phone, but this will make it native. Note that Android apps will not be available upon the first release of Windows 11 in October.)
- Widgets. While they’ve been around for a while (remember desktop gadgets on Windows Vista?), including in a recent Windows 10 update, you can now access widgets directly from the Taskbar and personalize them to see whatever you’d like.
- Microsoft Teams integration. Teams is getting a face-lift and will be integrated directly into the Windows 11 Taskbar, making it easier to access (and a bit more like Apple’s FaceTime). You’ll be able to access Teams from Windows, Mac, Android or iOS.
- Xbox tech for better gaming. Windows 11 will get certain features found in Xbox consoles, like Auto HDR and DirectStorage, to improve gaming on your Windows PC.
- Better virtual desktop support. Windows 11 will let you set up virtual desktops in a way that’s more similar to MacOS, toggling between multiple desktops for personal, work, school or gaming use. You can also change your wallpaper on each virtual desktop.
- Easier transition from monitor to laptop, and better multitasking. The new OS includes features called Snap Groups and Snap Layouts — collections of the apps you’re using at once that sit in the Taskbar, and can come up or be minimized at the same time for easier task switching. They also let you plug and unplug from a monitor more easily without losing where your open windows are located.
When will you be able to download Windows 11?
Windows 11 is now available as an early preview for Windows Insiders (here’s how to download the Windows 11 preview). It will begin rolling out to all compatible PCs and new PCs on Oct. 5, according to Microsoft, and will continue rolling out into mid-2022.
Will your computer be compatible with Windows 11?
There are a few different ways to check if your Windows 10 PC is eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 11.
You can download Microsoft’s PC Health Check app (right now if you’re part of the Windows Insider program, or in the coming weeks if you’re not) to see if your device is compatible, and if not, some details as to why. (Microsoft had pulled the app after it rolled out in June to add more information as to why devices may not be compatible, but as of late August, it’s back online.)
You can use another open-source app called WhyNotWin11 to see if your device is compatible. Plus, here’s how to check some hardware compatibility with Windows 11 without either tool.
Or go to Microsoft’s website for a list of requirements. If you buy a new PC between now and the general release, that computer will also be eligible for the free upgrade.
Can I still download Windows 11 even if my computer isn’t compatible?
Potentially. Even if your Windows 10 computer lacks some of the requirements for upgrading to Windows 11, you may still be able to manually download an unsupported version of the OS. The process would be similar to how many people could manually download Windows 10 free of charge. However, this version likely won’t be eligible for updates from Microsoft.
How will you download Windows 11 once it’s generally available?
Once Windows 11 becomes generally available, you’ll download it the same way you would any new version of Windows. Most users will go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Check for Updates.
If available, you’ll see Feature update to Windows 11. Click Download and install.
Will Windows 11 be free to download?
If you’re already a Windows 10 user, Windows 11 will appear as a free upgrade for your machine.
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