- Install Windows 11 with Windows Update
- Switch to Windows 11 with the Installation Wizard
- Install Windows 11 from a USB key
- Install Windows 11 from an ISO image
No need to spend a single cent to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11! Indeed, the update – or upgrade – from the old version of the operating system to the new one is totally free, as when you switch from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to Windows 10. Besides, there is currently no way to buy Windows 11 in any form to install it on a PC: you have to either buy a new PC with Windows 11 already installed, or upgrade from a PC already running Windows 10.
Since the launch of Windows 11, and at least until October 5, 2022, Microsoft officially offers a free upgrade from Windows 10. And only Windows 10. If you still have a PC running Windows 7 or 8, you must first upgrade to Windows 10 to be able to switch to Windows 11 afterwards (see our practical guide).
The upgrade can be done in several ways: either through Windows Update; or by using the Windows Installation Wizard; or by creating a USB key or other removable media such as a memory card or a DVD, for nostalgic users: or from an ISO image – a file containing an exact copy of a disk, to be used as if it were an external media.
In either case, the operation is very simple and it is not necessary to back up anything on your PC beforehand. Just download Windows 11 and start the installation: Windows will take care of everything, leaving your precious software and personal files intact. At the end of the process, you’ll have everything you had on your computer back, but under Windows 11. While the Wizard and Windows Update are the ideal methods for upgrading the PC you’re using directly, the other two techniques are well-suited for upgrading other computers. You can also use them to do a clean install, deleting all the contents of the PC and starting from scratch.
Note that you don’t have to worry about the license either: except in the case that you want to install Windows 11 on a virtual machine (VM), Microsoft’s verification system will take care of retrieving and activating the digital license of Windows 10. And if you need to retrieve a Windows license key, you can do it with a free utility (see our practical sheet).
Important detail: Windows 11 imposes some rather strict hardware requirements, which has earned Microsoft a lot of criticism. However, even if it does not recommend it for reasons of comfort and security, the publisher does not prohibit the upgrade to Windows 11 on a PC that is not officially compatible. Simply, a notification will be displayed to remind that the computer has not adapted to the system. To find out if your PC is compatible, consult our practical sheet.
Finally, note that if you are not convinced by Windows 11, you can easily go back to Windows 10, again without losing your personal files and applications. See our practical sheet to learn more.
How to install Windows 11 with Windows Update?
If your PC is compatible, Windows 10 should offer you the automatic update to Windows 11 via Windows Update. This is the easiest way.
- To see if the automatic update to Windows 11 is available, type the keyboard shortcut Windows + I or click on the Start menu to open the Windows settings. In the window that appears, click on the Update and Security section.
- The contents of the window will change. In the left pane, click on Windows Update.
- If your PC is eligible, you should see a message at the top saying that the update to Windows 11 is available. Click the Download and Install button.
- Windows Update displays the terms of the Windows 11 user agreement. Click Accept and Install to continue.
- Immediately, Windows Update starts downloading Windows 11. Be patient – the duration of the operation depends on the speed of your Internet connection. You can continue to use your PC as usual in parallel.
- When the download is complete, Windows Update tells you that a restart is required to perform the update. When you are ready, click the Restart button.
- Your PC will restart immediately. The rest of the operation is automatic, including intermediate restarts. Be patient: the update only takes a few minutes on a PC equipped with an SSD. Once the update is done, your PC restarts with Windows 11, and you find all your documents and applications.
How to upgrade to Windows 11 with the Installation Wizard?
If Windows Update does not offer you the update to Windows 11, you can perfectly do it with the Update Wizard, available on the Microsoft website.
- With your usual Web browser, go to the official Windows 11 download page on the Microsoft site.
- There are three options: Windows 11 Installation Wizard, Create Windows 11 installation media, and Download Windows 11 disk image (ISO). To install Windows 11 on the PC you are currently using, choose the wizard installation, the easiest method. Click the Download button in this section.
- Using Windows Explorer, open your download folder and double-click the Windows11InstallationAssistant.exe file you just downloaded to launch the wizard.
- Allow the program to run if Windows displays an alert message. Once the wizard is launched, read – or not… – the Microsoft license terms, then click the Accept and Install button.
- The Windows 11 download will begin. Please be patient: the duration of the operation depends on the speed of your Internet connection and the load of Microsoft’s servers. You can continue to use your PC during the download, which is performed in the background.
- Once the download is complete, the Wizard automatically starts the installation of Windows 11. You don’t have to do anything. Just wait. The operation is very fast (a few minutes) if your PC is equipped with an SSD.
- At the end of the installation, after a few automatic restarts, your PC will reboot with a brand new Windows. And without losing your applications and personal data. You can use it normally and discover Windows 11!
How to install Windows 11 from a USB stick?
The Windows download page also offers the possibility to create a Windows 11 installation medium, on a USB key, a memory card or even a DVD, if you are still fond of optical drives – we do not recommend this option, mainly because of its slowness. The ideal solution is a USB stick, preferably with USB 3 standard for speed. You can then use it in different ways, by opening it "manually" in Explorer or even by booting directly on it, on the PC you are currently using or on another one, as long as it is also under Windows 10.This operation is recommended to reinstall or perform a new clean installation of Windows 11 on a new or already used PC using a Microsoft account for Windows 10.
- First of all, connect a USB key or a memory card of at least 8 GB to your PC. And make sure it doesn’t contain any important files, as it will be completely erased during the operation.
- With your usual Web browser, go to the Windows 11 download page on the Microsoft site.
- Scroll down the page, and in the section Creating Windows 11 installation media, click the Download button. The download starts immediately. And it is very fast, the software weighing only a few megabytes.
- Once the download is complete, open File Explorer and go to the Downloads folder on your PC. Double click on the MediaCreationToolW11.exe file you just downloaded.
- The User Account Control window will appear asking you for permission. Click Yes to accept.
- A window titledWindows 11 Setup opens, indicating that the tool is preparing items. Wait a few seconds.
- The window then displays the applicable license agreement notice and terms. Read them (or not…), then click theAccept button to proceed to the next step.
- Then wait while the tool performs a verification.
- The window then asks you to select the language and the edition of Windows 11 you want to recover. Normally, the fields are already filled in. If you want to create a USB flash drive for the PC you are currently using, leave the Use recommended options for this PC checkbox checked, as everything is already filled in with the right values. If you want to create a USB stick for another computer, uncheck this box and then choose the language and edition. Note that, unlike Windows 10, you can’t choose a 32-bit version of Windows 11, as the new system is only available in 64-bit. Then click on the Next button.
- The window then asks for the type of media you want to use. Check the USB Flash Memory Disk box and then click on Next.
- The configuration tool then displays the removable USB media connected to the PC. Click on the device you want to use – USB flash drive or memory card – to select it, then click Next.
- The tool will then start downloading and preparing the stick. Be patient – the duration of the operation depends strongly on the speed of your Internet connection. But you can continue using your PC.
- When the download is finished, a message informs you that the key is ready. Click the Finish button to close it.
- That’s it! All you have to do is use your ready-to-use key the day you want to install or reinstall Windows 11 properly. It appears under the name ESD-USB in Explorer.
- If you are curious, open the key in Explorer to see its contents. You will find several folders (boot, efi, sources and support) as well as various files, including the setup.exe program, which will launch the Windows installation, and boot files for the PC.
To install Windows 11 from the key, you then have two solutions: either you open it in Explorer and you double-click on the setup.exe program to launch the installation; or you boot the PC with the USB key and you let the installation launch automatically. Be careful, this option depends on the settings of your PC’s Bios or UEFI which must allow booting from a USB key. See our practical sheet to see how to access these settings.
Whatever method you choose, the installation procedure is the same. Just follow the guided steps.
How to install Windows 11 from an ISO image?
Still free of charge, Microsoft offers the possibility of recovering an ISO image of Windows 11, i.e. a file containing the exact copy of a "virtual" disk containing everything needed to install the system. This is a convenient way to copy or keep Windows 11 on any media and to install it on different PCs, including a virtual machine. Beware, with this option, you will download a multiversion ISO and you may need your product key to unlock the right version. If necessary, read the advice in our practical sheet to recover your key.
- With your usual web browser, go to the Windows 11 download page on the Microsoft site.
- Scroll down the page, and in the Download Windows 11 disk image (ISO) section, click on the Select Download menu and select Windows 11 (multi-edition ISO). Then click on the Download button to confirm.
- A new section will appear in the window for language selection. Click on the drop-down menu to choose a language from the list – logically French -, then click on the Confirm button.
- A new section appears, entitled Download. Normally, it should display Windows 11 French. Click on the 64-bit Download button to start the download. Beware, the link that has just been generated is ephemeral: it expires in 24 hours. So don’t delay in using it! The download starts immediately. The file weighs about 5 GB. Be patient if you don’t have the fiber…
- When the download is finished, open the Downloads folder on your PC. There you will find the ISO file, which is usually called Win11_English_x64v1.iso. You can copy it as is to an external drive or other removable media – USB stick or memory card.
- To install Windows 11 from this ISO image, open the media that contains theWin11_English_x64v1.iso file with Explorer. Right-click on the ISO file, then, in the contextual menu that appears, select Open with and click on Windows Explorer in the cascading submenu that appears.
- Still in Explorer, click on This PC– in the left pane, for example – to display all the drives – storage units – accessible on the PC. The Windows 11 ISO image is "mounted" as a virtual DVD drive named CCCOMA_X64FREFR-EN-_DV9.
Open it as you would any physical drive and double-click the file on thesetup.exe program to start the Windows 11 installation and follow the instructions on the screen.