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Your free Windows 11 upgrade will have to wait until 2022

Tired woman working on laptop at home
(Image credit: Vlad Linev | Shutterstock)

The hype surrounding Windows 11 has consumers looking to migrate to Microsoft’s latest OS as soon as possible. This is especially true for current Windows 10 users as they were promised a free upgrade. Unfortunately, eligible Windows 10 devices that meet the Windows 11 system requirements won’t receive this option until sometime in 2022.  

As reported on IGN, the official Windows account on Twitter confirmed this fact. While it’s true that Windows 11 will be made available before the year is out, the free upgrade for current Windows 10 users is being held for the first half of 2022. The exact date and time you’ll get the update is anyone’s guess. Ideally, Microsoft will roll out the update to a select number of devices in an effort to mitigate potential bugs. 

Microsoft’s decision to slowly roll out the free Windows 11 update is a curious one, if pragmatic. When the company moved from Windows 8.1 to 10, there were all sorts of issues tied to the free updates. Missing files, audio issues, memory errors — those who upgraded had a worse experience than those who purchased a new Windows 10 device at launch. This could certainly be the case with Windows 11, and that’s before taking into account compatibility issues. 

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In order to run Windows 11, you’ll need to meet several hardware requirements. This includes a compatible 64-bit processor (an 8th generation Intel/AMD Ryzen 2000 series or higher), 64GB of storage, a graphics card that can utilize DirectX12 and more. The biggest requirement is the TPM 2.0 chip, a dedicated processor that handles encryption, storing biometric data, and other security-based functions. Consumers who’ve purchased a pre-built Windows 10 device in the past few years need not worry as Microsoft made hardware TPM a hard requirement. That’s not the case for some DIY builds/gaming rigs. Although more modern Intel and AMD chips can enable TPM via firmware. Either way, offering free Windows 11 upgrades to people who might not be ready for the jump could lead to a frustrating experience for a large swath of customers.

Waiting for Microsoft to work out the bugs while you get your PC in order isn’t so bad. That said, there may be a few options to check out Windows 11 before 2022. You could sign up for the Windows Insider Program — which is now live — in hopes of downloading an early build. There also seems to be some speculation surrounding a manual upgrade using the media creation tool or by doing a fresh Windows 11 installation when it releases later this year. Neither of these options have been tested yet, but the possibility is there.

While waiting until some undisclosed time in 2022 might be annoying to some,  we’d recommend doing so. Even if your hardware is up to date and you’ve backed up everything on your hard drive, there’s a high chance that the OS won’t run hiccup-free. Let Microsoft work some of the kinks out first. Or at the very least, be prepared to do some troubleshooting after upgrading to Windows 11. 

Kenneth Seward Jr.

Kenneth Seward Jr. is a freelance writer, editor and illustrator who covers games, movies and more. Follow him @kennyufg and on Twitch.