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Windows 11 release date tipped for October 20 — but there's a catch

Windows 11 release date
(Image credit: ADeltaX/Microsoft)

It looks like Microsoft could be aiming for an October 20 release date for Windows 11, evidenced not only by its own marketing, but by hints from internal sources.

According to The Verge, sources tell the publication that Microsoft plans to release Windows 11 in October, as new laptops hit the market. Coupling that piece of intel with other hints given throughout Microsoft's Windows 11 reveal event from last week, all signs point to October 20. 

For eagle-eyed viewers, Microsoft's Windows 11 presentation made a few hints towards an October 20 launch. All images can be found at Microsoft's Windows 11 press site

One image of the redesigned Windows 11 start menu shows a curious date in the bottom right-hand corner. October 20, with the time being 11:11. 

Windows 11 screenshots

(Image credit: Microsoft)

There's actually an entire suite of images that state both October 20 at 11:11 am. We've put all the screenshots in a gallery below. 

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Windows 11 screenshots

(Image credit: Microsoft)
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Windows 11 screenshots

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Windows 11 screenshots

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Windows 11 screenshots

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Windows 11 screenshots

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Windows 11 screenshots

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Windows 11 screenshots

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Windows 11 screenshots

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Over on Walmart's website, it states "Free Upgrade to Windows October 2021 when available" for a few laptops currently on sale, like the Lenovo Legion 5.

With that all said, of course Microsoft could push the launch of Windows 11 to any time within the holiday timeframe. But given that new machines tend to come out around October, it's likely computer manufacturers are betting on Windows 11 shipping on board. 

Also keep in mind that you may not be able to upgrade your existing Windows 10 PC to Windows 11 on the official launch day. In fact, according to Microsoft's own tweet reply to a question about availability: "The rollout of the upgrade to Windows 10 devices already in use today will begin in 2022 through the first half of that year."

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Eligibility for Windows 11 has been a subject of some handwringing, too. Microsoft has confirmed that only 8th Gen and newer CPUs will be eligible for Windows 11. This excludes laptops and computers made before 2016 in most cases. That includes even recent Microsoft-made devices, like the Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro (2017) and the $3,499 Surface Studio. 

Surely, anyone who paid more than $3,000 for a computer will find the lack of Windows 11 upgradability a nuisance. And unfortunately, for the Surface Studio, it's impossible to open it up and replace it with a newer CPU as it's soldered on to the motherboard. 

As for whether Microsoft will ease the hardware eligibility gap remains to be seen. 

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Windows 11 also requires a Trusted Platform Module, or TPM, be embedded on all devices. The TPM is a hardware security chip that protects users from hackers and malware. But TPM is a more recent technological adaptation. Most newer laptops have TPM on board. And more recent CPUs use firmware TPM, so that should cover more recent PC builders. But for some PCs, a separate TPM chip might require a purchase and motherboard installation. 

Imad Khan

Imad Khan is news editor at Tom’s Guide, helping direct the day’s breaking coverage. Prior to working at the site, Imad was a full-time freelancer, with bylines at the New York Times, the Washington Post and ESPN. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.