Windows 11 is finally here, bringing the biggest update we’ve seen to Microsoft’s PC software in more than half a decade. It’ll give your computer a fresh new look, some new ways to multitask and chat with friends and a few performance enhancements for gaming.
You should upgrade to Windows 11 if...
But is that all worth upgrading for? We’ve spent roughly a week with the final version of Windows 11 and have found a lot to like about Microsoft’s new operating system, as well as a few things we’d like to see improved. If you’re wondering if you should hit that download button — or buy a new Windows 11 computer — here are the biggest pros and cons to know about.
If you’re ready to take the plunge right now, there are a few ways to get your hands on Windows 11 once it starts rolling out on Oct. Most Windows 10 users are eligible to upgrade to Windows 11 for free — you can run a health check to make sure your computer is compatible and meets the system requirements here.
How to check if your PC is compatible with Windows 11
We especially recommend that those with custom-built desktops run the health check, as Windows 11 requires TPM 2.0 — a specific security module that folks who built their own PC might be missing. There are some workarounds for this, however. Other than that, those with a Windows laptop or desktop from the last few years should be good to upgrade. To see if Windows 11 is available for you, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click “Check for Updates.” You can also simply search “Check for Updates” from the Taskbar.
If You Upgrade at Release, You’re an Early Adopter
Once you’re there, follow the prompts to download the new software. If your current computer isn’t compatible with Windows 11 — or you’re just due for an upgrade — there are tons of Windows 11-ready PCs available right now. These include the Dell XPS 13, our pick for the best Windows laptop, as well as all of Microsoft’s own computers that ship with Windows 11 out of the box, such as the new Surface Laptop Studio, Surface Pro 8 and Surface Go 3.
How to Check If Windows 11 Supports Your PC
We’ll have full reviews on the latest Surface range soon, but in the meantime, here are some Windows 11-compatible PCs we’ve tested and recommend. The best Windows laptop: Dell XPS 13 (starting at $969; dell.com). Our favorite Surface laptop: Surface Laptop 4 (starting at $999; microsoft.com). The best Windows gaming laptop: Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition ($1,649; bestbuy.com).
Should I Upgrade to Windows 11 Right Now?
The best Windows gaming desktop: MSI Aegis RS ($2,499; officedepot.com). A much-needed new coat of paint. Looks aren’t everything, but they’re a big part of what makes Windows 11 feel like a substantial update. Microsoft’s new operating system gives Windows a fresh new design that’s more colorful, cleaner and easier to use, all while remaining familiar enough for Windows 10 vets to jump right into without having to relearn much.
The most noticeable change is the much-talked-about new Taskbar, which now sits at the center and sports a much more minimal and attractive look that brings Macs and Chromebooks to mind. But while the Taskbar’s been cleaned up visually, it functions largely the same. Tapping the Windows key will bring up the revamped Start menu, which puts large app icons front and center and will even make app recommendations based on what you’ve downloaded recently.