Microsoft has today confirmed that the new Windows 11 operating system (opens in new tab) will be available as a free upgrade (opens in new tab) for existing, licensed Windows 10 users. That means if you have an activated version of Microsoft's current OS de jour, and a PC that can handle it, you're already in line to get your hands on the new version. Windows 11's release date will be in time for the holidays.
Here's the official line from Microsoft's website:
"Windows 11 will be available through a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs beginning this holiday. To check if your current Windows 10 PC is eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11, visit Windows.com (opens in new tab) to download the PC Health Check app (opens in new tab). We’re also working with our retail partners to make sure Windows 10 PCs you buy today are ready for the upgrade to Windows 11. The free upgrade will begin to roll out to eligible Windows 10 PCs this holiday and continuing into 2022."
We don't know how long this grace period will last, so there's no guarantee that you'll be able to get a free upgrade indefinitely. But at least Microsoft has stated that it will be continuing through 2022.
To get around such concerns you could always upgrade on day one, but our advice would generally be to give any new OS a little time out in the wild before committing your full-time gaming PC to the vagaries of new software.
Windows 10 has not been without its share of system- and even game-breaking bugs on even small update releases, so something as large as a whole new version of the OS has a few more points of potential failure. That said, we're pretty confident that Windows 11 started out life as simply a larger update to Windows 10, and that close relation will hopefully help Microsoft avoid the worst excesses of buggy release software.
The downside of this is that, shiny new UI aside, Windows 11 looks an awful lot like the Sun Valley Windows 10 update we thought it would be. And that kinda takes some of the shine from the release of something purporting to be a whole new version of the Windows operating system.
Still, with Microsoft essentially giving it away to existing users, that will salve some of the pain.
Will Windows 11 be a free update for Windows 10?
Microsoft has announced that the new Windows 11 OS release will be available as a free update to licensed Windows 10 users. People buying PCs today will therefore be eligible for a free upgrade when Windows 11 launches around the holidays.