When can I download Windows 11?

Microsoft Windows 11 devices
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Update: Windows 11 is now available. To our surprise something of a whole day early, too. 

If you really must have the latest OS (and we recommend you wait before installing it on your PC), then you can head over to the official Windows 11 download page here. From here you'll see three install options to choose from: Assistant, Installation Media, or ISO. Assistant or the tried and trusted Installation Media options should be your first port of call. 

Original story: We're only days away from Windows 11's release date, which is when we'll see Microsoft open the doors to its new look OS to the world. Yet as you may already know, Microsoft won't be pushing the OS to every PC with Windows 10 installed on the day—thank goodness for that—and will instead leave it up to savvy owners to install for themselves until at least 2022.

There's no doubt those that offer their PC to the first wave of Windows 11 installs will be guinea pigs. Even Windows 10 has a rocky relationship with iterative updates, let alone a full sweep of changes such as those coming with Windows 11. These past few months of Insider builds have shown that both bugs and forgotten features are a hurdle the new OS is yet to jump.

Yet I'm not here to stop you from braving it through the early days of Windows 11. In fact, I'll try to aid and abet you, with everything we know about when you'll be able to download Windows 11 on launch day.

When can I download Windows 11?

Windows 11 will be available to download on October 5, 2021. On that day, not much will actually happen for most Windows 10 users. Despite being a free upgrade, Microsoft won't be pushing Windows 11 to compatible Windows 10 devices until sometime in 2022—likely to bide the company some time to work out any launch day bugs.

In the meantime, then, if you want to experience Windows 11 you'll need to download it for yourself on the day, which should be easily done on the Windows website.

We expect the update to go live roughly around 10am Pacific. That's 1pm Eastern, 6pm BST, and 7pm UTC+1.

That's not a confirmed time from Microsoft as the company has yet to state the exact timing. However, most Patch Tuesday updates and Insider Builds go live roughly around, or a little after, that time, so it appears Microsoft's MO for these kinds of updates.

We have a guide on how to install Windows 11 on your PC safely, which you'll want to read through thoroughly to check that you're not risking any of your important data in the process.

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If you prefer to wait around for Microsoft to give you the go-ahead for your Windows 11 install, Microsoft says this will occur into 2022. There's no exact timing for when this might be, however, and it will depend on Microsoft carrying out "behind-the-scenes testing and validating for your specific PC." You can check whether this is done by heading to the Settings/Windows Update screen on your Windows 10 PC.

Whether you decide to force an upgrade or not, you will want to take note of the strict Windows 11 system requirements. Microsoft has relaunched its PC Health Check app in the days leading up to Windows 11's launch, which should give you a general indication of whether your PC is officially supported or not.

If it's not, you can still install Windows 11, but Microsoft warns you may not receive critical updates that could impact the security of your system. There are reportedly ways around these Windows 11 limitations, but they might prove shaky ground for your system over the duration of the OS' lifespan. 

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.