How to Try Out Windows 11 Before Everyone Else

How to Try Out Windows 11 Before Everyone Else
Windows 11's new Snap Layouts feature is designed to boost productivity. (Screenshot: Microsoft)

Microsoft just took the wraps off Windows 11, its long-awaited visual overhaul of the PC operating system used by more than a billion people. But now that we know what Windows 11 looks like, how can you start using it?

First, know that the final version of the new OS won’t be available to install until closer to the holidays, unless you sign up for the Windows Insider Program. If you like to live on the edge and your PC meets the Windows 11 system requirements, you can jump in starting next week.

What are those system requirements, you ask? Let’s check ‘em out:

Processor: 1 GHz or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or SoC (system-on-chip)

Graphics card: compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver

RAM: 4GB or more

Storage: 64GB or larger storage device

Display: HD (720p) display that is greater than 9 inches diagonally, 8 bits per colour channel

System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable

TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0

And, of course, you need an internet connection.

If you want to get started with Windows 11 as an Insider, here’s how:

Sign up for the program through your browser or by clicking through Settings, Update & Security, then Windows Insider Program. If your machine doesn’t meet the system requirements for Windows 11, you’ll see an alert and Microsoft cautions against proceeding with the Insider builds. If you’re already part of the Insider Program and your PC doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, you can give it a shot, but then Microsoft advises downgrading to Windows 10 if you run into issues. For more information on the Insider Preview build process, check out Microsoft’s detailed blog post here.

If you’d prefer to wait for the final release, Windows 11 will be available as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users through 2022. You can check to see if your Windows 10 PC is eligible by downloading Microsoft’s PC Health Check app. If you’re still running Windows 7 or 8, well, RIP.

And if you have no interest in trying out Windows 11 whatsoever, just know that Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 10 in 2025, so you have four years to come to terms with it.