Microsoft released Windows 11 in October, 2021 by making it available as a free upgrade for compatible PCs running Windows 10. The software also soon began shipping on new PCs as well.

One thing you haven’t been able to do until now? Buy a box that has physical media with a Windows 11 installer pre-loaded. But now you can do that too.

As spotted by Luke Blevins, you can now buy Windows 11 on a USB flash drive from Best Buy. There are two options available:

Those are the same prices you’d pay if you downloaded Windows 11 from Microsoft, installed it on a PC, and then paid for a digital license to activate the software. But if you’ve got a slow internet connection, don’t have an 8GB or larger flash drive already, or just like collecting retail packaging boxes, now you can do that too.

Just keep in mind that your PC will have to meet the minimum system requirements for Windows 11, so you’ll need a computer with at least 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a compatible processor and TPM 2.0.

via OnMSFT

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4 replies on “Now you can buy Windows 11 on a USB flash drive (physical media arrives 7 months after digital downloads)”

  1. Silly question by old fart, here: are these OS install thumb drives write-protected in any way?

    Besides the silly erasing/re-using the “install media” by accident (sht happens), there’s also the risk of virus infection of the OS installer (worse sht DOES happen).

    Back in the day, you could write-protect the disquettes your OS came on, and a CD/DVD-ROM with your OS can’t be written to; to me, a thumb drive for OS install looks like bad news waiting to happen. Maybe I’m too paranoid after working in ITSEC and doing tech support for high-tech multinationals (fertile ground for Dilbert-style anecdotes, indeed), but I do hope non-writable physical media for OS install remains a thing.

  2. In 2022, I’m starting to wonder if their attempts to sell physical copies is just a legal thing now. Like perhaps it relates to their legal ability to fight piracy cases. With their constant fight against OEM-key resellers, maybe this helps them make a case that they’ve made their product reasonably accessible to purchase legally?

    I’m just unconvinced that there’s any need for helping people avoid downloading several gigabytes of data, considering the immediate need for downloading updates. You’ll certainly be downloading gigabytes worth of updates anyways.

    1. “I’m just unconvinced that there’s any need for helping people avoid downloading several gigabytes of data”

      With such a well argued and profound statement, there can be no counter-argument.

      Except to say, the only reason why Micro$oft is selling their software in this format is because they have reached the conclusion that they can make a profit by doing so. Whether it helps people in anyway or not, is irrelevant to the bottom line and to executive bonuses and stockholder dividends.

    2. There are occasionally people who might not have a spare USB flash drive and don’t feel like buying one just for windows installation. Getting one with the installer on it just skips a step.

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