Autumn is the time for system updates, apparently, with iOS and iPadOS 15 available from today (have a look back at last week’s email if you need help on how to upgrade). But it’s not just Apple – they’re all at it – and in this week’s email, it’s Microsoft’s turn.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the adverts on the telly over the past week or so, but Microsoft have now officially announced Windows 11 – along with launch dates, upgrade terms and all that jazz. So I can now let you know exactly what’s happening… more or less…
So, the official launch date for Windows 11 is Tuesday 5th October. But what does that actually mean?
If I’m honest – not a lot.
- From the 5th October, it’s technically possible for you to buy a new PC or laptop that comes with Windows 11 already installed. (Although in practice, I doubt many computer stores will be quite so organised about it, so you might want to wait a week or so.)
- Then between the 5th October and the middle of next year, Microsoft will gradually roll out Windows 11 as a free update to people who are on Windows 10 at the moment.
- It’s not going to be sudden and it’s not going to be quick.
Microsoft’s plan is to roll out the upgrade to the newest PCs and laptops first – starting with the ones that they’ve been advertising as “Windows 11 compatible” on their website. Then, slowly and gradually, they’ll start to upgrade older machines – with the oldest not getting the upgrade until some time next summer.
They’re trying to avoid some of the problems they had when lots of older machines were upgraded to Windows 10 all at once. Some of them just couldn’t handle the new software very well, and it caused a lot of headaches.
This time, they’re taking the “slowly, slowly, softly, softly” approach. Your computer will only be offered Windows 11 if it can run it properly, and you won’t be bullied into upgrading if you don’t want to. Windows 10 will get full support until at least October 2025.
If you do want to upgrade, it’s completely free. And it doesn’t look like Microsoft are going to put a strict time limit on it this time. When they offered Windows 10 as a free upgrade, you only had a certain period of time to take them up on it. After that, you had to pay. This time, they’ve said: “The free upgrade offer does not have a specific end date for eligible systems. However, Microsoft reserves the right to eventually end support for the free offer.” Which is legalese for “we’re not still going to be doing it in 20 years’ time”. My guess is that they’ll pull the plug on the upgrade around the same time they stop supporting Windows 10.
If you want to find out more about what’s changing in Windows 11, you can read about it from the horse’s mouth in this article from Microsoft.