Microsoft has announced a release date for Windows 11, saying the update to its desktop operating system for consumers will begin to roll out beginning October 5, 2021.
- Microsoft confirms Windows 11 debuts on October 5
- Free upgrades are available to Windows 10 users
- Mac owners can run Windows 11 via virtualization
Microsoft will release Windows 11 on October 5, 2021
The Windows 11 release will happen in multiple stages.
First and foremost, Microsoft has said that it will begin rolling out the free upgrade to Windows 11 to the eligible Windows 10 systems from Tuesday, October 5, 2021. People can also buy new PCs with Windows 11 preinstalled beginning October 5.
The free Windows 11 upgrade will be a staggered rollout that Microsoft says will be measured “with a focus on quality,” says the announcement on the official Windows blog. It’s going to take a while until it full rolls out—all eligible computers should be offered the free Windows 11 upgrade by mid-2022.
How to check for the free Windows 11 update on your PC
An alert pops up when the Windows 11 update is ready for your PC. To manually check whether the update is available, go to Settings → Windows Updates and hit “Check for updates.”
Can Apple users run Windows 11?
Apple currently does not support Windows 11 via its Boot Camp feature that creates a dual-boot configuration so you can decide whether you’d like to load macOS at boot time or start up your computer in another operating system, like Windows 11. That’s quite a shame because booting directly into Windows 11 would give the operating system full control of the underlying Mac hardware, resulting in snappier performance.
Another viable solution would be a piece of virtualization software. These things basically allow a foreign operating system to run Windows 11 in a window inside macOS. Windows 11 doesn’t get to monopolize all the resources nor does it run at full speed, but virtualization at least lets you install and use Windows 11 on your Mac without jumping through a lot of hoops.
Virtualization software maker Parallels recently released Parallels Desktop 17, pictured above, which includes full support for running Windows 11 alongside macOS on both Intel-based and Apple silicon Macs.
Read the system requirements for Windows 11 before installing
Microsoft has managed to confuse people interested in the next version of Windows by increasing the system requirements by requiring that your PC is equipped with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0—which is something similar to Apple’s Secure Enclave cryptographic coprocessor—to deliver hardware-based security.
At least an eighth-generation Intel CPU or newer is also required. Microsoft has confirmed that certain seventh-generation chips will officially support Windows 11, too.
As for Microsoft’s PC Health Check for identifying compatible Windows 11 computers, it will be updated with all of the compatible CPUs in the coming weeks. An updated preview version of the PC Health Check app is now available to Windows Insiders, as per Microsoft’s blog post.
Windows 11 also supports AMD’s Ryzen 3 or better and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7c CPU or higher. On top of all that, your system firmware must have UEFI and Secure Boot capabilities.
Check out feature-specific requirements for Windows 11 on the Microsoft website.
What’s new in Windows 11?
Windows 11 brings a pretty major visual overhaul to the user interface with all-new sounds that Microsoft says bring freshness to your everyday computing. The familiar Start menu is now centered at the bottom of the screen (with a toggle to revive the previous placement). And with features like Snap Layouts and Snap Groups, folks at Redmond seem to have shown Apple who’s who in terms of multitasking productivity.
Office 3265 is available right from the Start menu, chat from Microsoft Teams are integrated into the taskbar and people can now install and use widgets, which are small pieces of code powered by AI providing a faster way to access glanceable information.
Sand with the redesigned Microsoft Store on Windows 11, the company says it wants to help the creator economy avoid Apple’s App Store tax by supporting alternative zero-commission payments, a built-in tipping feature and similar.