Microsoft released its Windows 11 operating system on October 5, 2021 officially. Is Windows 11 free? The question can’t be answered with a simple yes or not. Windows 11 is free under certain conditions, otherwise, it is available at Microsoft and other retail locations for a price.
Answer: Microsoft customers who run an activated Windows 10 installation on a device may upgrade to Windows 11 for free. Windows 11 needs to be purchased from Microsoft and other retail locations otherwise.
Is the Windows 11 upgrade free?
Here is the easiest way to find out if the Windows 10 is activated:
Select Start > Settings.
Go to Update & Security > Activation
The page that opens reveals if the operating system is activated.
If it states that Windows 10 is activated, the upgrade to Windows 11 is free. You may then head over to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, to find out if it is offered to your device already.
Microsoft displays an error on the page if the PC does not meet all system requirements.
If you see This PC doesn’t currently meet all the system requirements for Windows 11, it can’t be upgraded to Windows 11 using Windows Update. There is another way though.
Is the free offer to upgrade to Windows 11 time-limited?
Microsoft has not revealed if the update is time-limited. When Microsoft launched Windows 10, it offered a one-year free upgrade to Windows 10 from genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices. The company did not disable the free upgrade program after the first year though, as it is still possible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
Windows 7 and 8.1 devices can’t be upgraded directly to Windows 11. It is necessary to run the upgrade to Windows 10, which was still possible last time we tested the upgrade path.
A workaround for incompatible devices
Note that Windows 11 has different system requirements than previous versions of Windows, including Windows 10 or Windows 7/8.1. Even if the Windows 10 system is activated correctly, it may not be possible to upgrade to Windows 11 for free because of these requirements.
It may still be possible to install Windows 11 on a device that Microsoft refuses to upgrade via Windows Update. Check out our guide on installing Windows 11 on incompatible devices, and how to download Windows 11 to your devices.