Windows 11 is now available, which means that new PCs powered by the latest version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system have begun to ship and Microsoft has started pushing the update to eligible PCs through Windows Update. But the company is doing a phased rollout, which means that some users may not see an upgrade option for weeks or months.
Don’t want to wait? There are three ways to install Windows 11 manually.
Option 1: Windows 11 Installation Assistant
If you’re planning to upgrade a Windows 10 PC to Windows 11, the simplest way to do that is probably to use the Windows 11 Installation Assistant.
It’s basically a program that you can run which will download and install Windows 11 on a PC that meets the minimum system requirements. If you’re not sure if your PC qualifies, you can use Microsoft’s free PC Health Check app from the Windows 11 website.
Assuming you meet the requirements and have at least 9GB of disk space free on your computer, you can just download the Windows 11 Installation Assistant and then:
- Run the program as an administrator.
- Wait for the utility to confirm your device is compatible with Windows 11.
- Agree to the license terms and start the installation by clicking the Accept and Install button.
The assistant will then go through the process of installing Windows 11. This process can take a while and your computer may reboot several times. Make sure not to turn off your computer until after installation is complete.
There are a few reasons why this may be the best method for most users. One is that it’ll keep all of your existing programs and files intact. Another is that if you decide you don’t like Windows 11, you have 10 days to “go back” to Windows 10, which you can do by opening the Windows 11 Settings app, going to the System menu, choosing Recovery, and then selecting the Go Back option.
Just note that after restoring Windows 10, you may need to reinstall some programs and any changes made to Settings after upgrading to Windows 11 will be lost.
Option 2: Create Windows 11 Installation Media
This method lets you create a bootable USB drive or DVD that you can use to perform a clean install of Windows 11. That means files, programs, and other data on your PC will likely be overwritten, so make sure to backup important data before beginning.
But this method could be a good option if you’re installing Windows 11 on a new computer or want an excuse to start over, removing cruft from a previous Windows installation.
Note that you’ll need a USB drive or DVD with at least 8GB, and Microsoft recommends using a blank drive or disk since any data already on your storage device will be overwritten.
First download the Media Creation Tool from the Microsoft website, then you can:
- Run the utility as an administrator.
- Click Accept to agree to the license terms.
- Select Create installation media for another PC from the What do you want to do? menu and then click Next.
- Pick the language, Windows edition, and chip architecture.
- Choose whether you want to create a bootable USB flash drive or an ISO file (disk image) that can be burned to a DVD.
After you’ve created your bootable installation media, you can connect it to a USB port of your computer, reboot the PC, and use the manufacturer’s settings to either jump straight to a boot device menu or enter the UEFI/BIOS settings to choose the device boot priority.
Once your computer boots from the removable device, you’ll be guided through the Windows 11 installation process.
Keep in mind that since this method performs a clean install of Windows 11, there is no option to “go back” to Windows 10, because as far as your computer is concerned, it was never running Windows 10 in the first place.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the media you create will have generic drivers, but if your computer requires custom drivers for certain hardware, you may need to download them from the manufacturer before everything works properly.
Option 3: Download Windows 11 ISO (Disk Image)
Don’t want to use the Windows 11 media installation tool? Then you can just download a pre-built disk image.
These ISO files can be used to create your own bootable USB flash drive or DVD, or to install Windows 11 in a virtual machine, no media creation required.