Upgrading to Windows 11 from Win7 will require a clean install

Windows 7
(Image credit: Microsoft)

There are plenty of questions about how various PCs are going to be able to upgrade to Windows 11. Will Windows 7 and Windows 8 users be able to upgrade? Will it be free? How do you go about upgrading?

Lenovo has released a Windows 11 FAQ (via Windows Latest) that covers this very subject, and on that page is the revelation that Windows 7 users are only going to be able to upgrade to Windows 11 via a fresh install. Which isn't really an upgrade at all. Lenovo explains:

"Most devices available for purchase now will be upgradeable to Windows 11. You will have the option to upgrade, clean install, or reimage Windows 10 devices to move to Windows 11. For Windows 7 devices that meet hardware requirements, you will need to clean install or reimage to go directly to Windows 11."

Lenovo is obviously talking about how you go about upgrading PCs you've bought from Lenovo, but it would be surprising if this advice wasn't universal. 

So the machine in question will still need to meet the hardware requirements for Windows 11, which may not be the case for some machines—Windows 7 was released back in 2009 when Intel's impressive Nehalem architecture was all the rage, but TPM 2.0 wasn't finalised until 2014 (and you'll need that for Windows 11). If you're running Windows 7, it's definitely worth running the PC Health Check to see if your machine can run it.

There's plenty of good stuff to be had in Windows 11 so, if you can, you probably want to upgrade from Windows 7 to avoid being left out of all the UI fun it offers. Although, there must be a fairly serious reason why you haven't upgraded to Windows 10 already and I doubt Windows 11 is going to fundamentally change anything for you.

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Installing Windows 11 from fresh is a straightforward procedure, although you're going to want to make sure that you've got everything you need backed up, as a fresh install is going to wipe your machine. The Windows 11 installation shouldn't change much from the standard way to install Windows, but we'll have to wait and see.

Windows 11 is due to launch before the end of the year, so get ready to back up your machine.

Alan Dexter

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.