Windows 11: how to download update, UK release date, how to upgrade from Windows 10 - and PC requirements

‘“At a time when the PC is playing a more central role in our lives, Windows 11 is designed to bring you closer to what you love’

Microsoft’s new-look Windows operating system with several new features, enhancements and visual changes is out now.

The OS has been given a complete redesign compared to previous generations with new app icons, more translucent windows and a simpler Start menu – now moved to the centre of the screen away from its traditional left position.

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It forms part of a wider visual overhaul, which includes new-style icons and translucent, rounded windows.

It’s a revamp that Microsoft says will help bring users “closer to the things they love”.

Speaking during the unveiling of Windows 11 in June, Microsoft’s chief product officer Panos Panay said the aim of the latest update was to help people do more with their computer while also making things more simple.

“At a time when the PC is playing a more central role in our lives, Windows 11 is designed to bring you closer to what you love,” he said.

“We’ve simplified the design and user experience to empower your productivity and inspire your creativity.”

So, what else can you expect?

Here is everything you need to know.

What’s new?

The new Start menu enables users to quickly access their recent files using the cloud Microsoft 365 and show any files they were viewing earlier, even if it was on an Android or Apple iOS device.

Windows users also gain access to a greater selection of apps, meaning Android apps usually meant for a mobile screen will be accessible from a PC; a redesigned Microsoft Store will allow Android apps via the Amazon Appstore.

Microsoft is also building on the growth and demand for its Teams communication platform during the pandemic by integrating it deeper into Windows.

Chat from Microsoft Teams appears in the taskbar along the bottom of the screen, providing a quick way to message, voice or video contact.

Microsoft also wants to make multitasking more flexible with a series of new snap functions, known as Snap Layouts, Snap Groups and Desktops.

Users can split several apps across the screen in one click which can be saved and returned to later on. These are designed to better organise desktop clutter and optimise the space on screen.

A new personalised feed of news, weather, to-do lists, calendar items and information widgets is also available in a standalone panel, powered by AI.

No stranger to gaming, Microsoft is also pushing improvements that will make playing games load faster, with higher frame rates and support for better visuals.

Under the bonnet upgrades will make Windows 11 faster overall and more secure, and Window Updates will also be 40% smaller.

What are the system requirements?

You can use the PC Health Check app to determine if your device is eligible to upgrade to Windows 11. Many PCs that are less than four years old will be able to upgrade to Windows 11.

They must be running the most current version of Windows 10 and meet the minimum hardware requirements.

If your PC doesn’t meet these requirements, you can carry on using Windows 10; Microsoft has pledged to continue supporting the older operating system until 14 October 2025.

How do I download it?

Windows 11 is available as a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs. All you need to know about how to download it can be found on Microsoft’s website.

If your existing Windows 10 PC is running the most current version of Windows 10 and meets the minimum hardware specifications, it will be able to upgrade to Windows 11.

PCs with Windows 11 pre-installed will be available “later this year” say Microsoft.

When is it out?

Windows 11 was first made available to the public on 5 October, but “upgrades to Windows 11 will begin to roll out late in 2021 and continue into 2022,” says Microsoft.

Not all Windows 10 PCs that are eligible to upgrade to Windows 11 will be offered to upgrade at the same time though. To see if your PC is eligible to upgrade, download and run the PC Health Check app.

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