Enlarge / You name it, we’ve tried installing Windows 11 on it.
We originally published this install guide for Windows 11 shortly after the OS was released in October 2021. To keep it current and as useful as possible, we updated it in August 2022 to cover tweaks that Microsoft has made to the Windows installer for version 22H2, and some new workarounds for unsupported systems.
Windows 11 has been out for nearly a year, and its first major update will be released at some point in the next few weeks. Even if our original review didn’t convince you to upgrade, you might be thinking about it now that it’s more established and some of the biggest early bugs have been fixed.
We’ve pulled together all kinds of resources to create a comprehensive install guide to upgrading to Windows 11. This includes advice and some step-by-step instructions for turning on officially required features like your TPM and Secure Boot, as well as official and unofficial ways to skirt the system-requirement checks on “unsupported” PCs, because Microsoft is not your parent and therefore cannot tell you what to do.
I’ve had Windows 11 running on PCs as old as a Dell Inspiron 530 from 2008, and while I’m not saying this is something you should do, it is something that you can do.
How do I get Windows 11?
The easiest way to get Windows 11 is by checking Windows Update on a supported, fully up-to-date Windows 10 PC. But if you aren’t seeing it there, or if you have lots of computers to upgrade and only want to download the new OS once, there are other options.
Microsoft offers several ways to download Windows 11 manually. One is to use the Installation Assistant app, which you install on your PC to trigger a normal upgrade install via Windows Update. The second is to use the Windows 11 Media Creation Tool, which automates the process of creating a bootable USB install drive or downloading an install ISO file. Once you have a USB drive, you can either boot from it to perform a clean install or run the Setup app from within Windows 10 to do a normal upgrade install. You can also burn the ISO to a DVD, but installing from any USB drive, even an old USB 2.0 drive, will be much faster, so you shouldn’t do that. Finally, you can just download an ISO file directly from Microsoft’s site.
Do I need to pay for it?
Windows 11 is a free upgrade to Windows 10. So if you’re running Windows 10 Home or Pro on your PC, regardless of whether your PC is officially supported or not, you’ll be able to install and activate the equivalent edition of Windows 11.
If you’re installing Windows 11 on a new PC you’ve built yourself, officially, you should buy a Windows 10 or Windows 11 license. These can be purchased from retail sites like Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, or directly from Microsoft for between $120 and $140. Unofficially, you can buy a working Windows product key from product key resale websites for anywhere from $15 to $40. Many of these sites are sketchy, and we won’t link to any of them directly, but it’s one option for getting a working key.
Also, unofficially, I’ve had some success using old Windows 7 and Windows 8 product keys to activate equivalent editions of Windows 11. …….