Even though Microsoft said Windows 10 was the last major operating system, it's not really surprising that Windows 11 is now available. The update is free, but before installing Windows 11, we recommend that you do a little preparation work. Once you've taken the plunge, there are a few settings and customization tweaks you'll likely want to make for the best possible experience.
Things to do before installing Windows 11
Even if you already see Windows 11 ready to install in Windows Update, don't do it yet. Microsoft has good intentions, but as everyone knows, Windows updates don't always go as planned, especially when switching to a new operating system.
Please take the time to complete the following tasks to make Windows 11 installation as easy and painless as possible.
Make sure your PC is compatible
If your PC is more than a few years old, there's a good chance it's not compatible with Windows 11. That's okay, however, as Microsoft won't be discontinuing support for Windows 10 anytime soon.
You can manually check the Windows 11 system requirements or run the. You must already be running Windows 10 to use PC Health Check, which verifies that your device can run Windows 11.
- After downloading the app on your PC, run the app.
- Click "Check Now" to run the compatibility scan. Hopefully, you will see a check mark with the results.
- Click “See all results” to see how your PC stacks, for example barely meeting the minimum requirements or exceeding them.
If your PC isn't compatible, you'll see what's missing. If you really like your current PC, it could mean you just need a hardware upgrade, like RAM or a bigger hard drive. However, you won't be able to install Windows 11 until your PC is compatible.
You can buy a new PC (make sure it meets the minimum specs) with Windows 10 and upgrade from there, or wait patiently until most new PCs have Windows 11 already installed.
Back up or create a Windows 10 clone
Compatibility isn't the only thing to consider. Windows 11 installation shouldn't delete any of your files, but sometimes things go wrong. While upgrading to Windows 10, many users have lost files because something was not updated and installed correctly.
Before proceeding with the installation, back up all files.
You can also use the backup function in Windows 10. Go to “Settings -> Update & Security -> Backup”.
If you want to make sure you can go back to Windows 10 at any time, you can clone Windows 10 instead. It's a bit of a process, but it's definitely worth it if you want to recreate your old OS.
Make a note of all your apps and product keys
As long as your current apps are all compatible with Windows 10, there shouldn't be any real problems moving to Windows 11. If they don't work properly in 10, you may have problems.
As with your files, your apps should remain the same. However, it's a good idea to make a list of everything you've installed along with the corresponding product keys. In our post on recovering your Windows 10 product key, we also covered how to recover other types of product keys and see a list of all installed apps and software.
Decide how you want to install Windows 11
Microsoft is not releasing Windows 11 to all users at the same time. Despite being available starting October 2021, Microsoft is gradually rolling out the operating system until mid-2022.
This provides two options for installing Windows 11. The first is to wait until it appears in Windows Update.
Alternatively, download the. Use the Windows 11 installation assistant (provided by Microsoft) to walk you through the process. With this option, you can simply update (keep your files and apps as they are) or perform a clean install (format your system, lose files and apps).
If you already have performance issues, a clean install might be best. Just make sure you have all your files, apps, and device drivers ready to be restored.
Things to do after installing Windows 11
Congratulations! Now you have the brilliant new Windows 11. But what now? Take a moment to check out all the features you didn't have in Windows 10, such as:
- Centered taskbar icons, similar to macOS
- Taskbar widget increased
- Easier to use Microsoft Store
- Integration with Microsoft Teams
- Focus / Productivity tools in the Clock app
Check the compatibility of the app and hardware
Even if the PC Health Check app says your PC is compatible, it doesn't mean all of your apps and hardware will work. For hardware, check with the device manufacturer for driver updates. In many cases, running Windows Update will update drivers as new ones are available.
So, check that all your apps are still installed and make sure they are working properly. If they don't work, visit the app's website to see if an update is available, and if not, if one is in progress. You may have to wait while the developers update the software to work with Windows 11 or switch to an alternative.
Make sure you do this within the first 10 days of installing Windows 11 in case you choose to go back. More on this shortly.
Clear the Taskbar and Start Clutter Menu
After installing Windows 11, you will likely find some additional apps listed on the Start menu and on the taskbar. If you'd rather not have all the clutter, you can delete anything you don't need, like recommended apps and app icons.
For the taskbar, go to “Settings -> Personalization -> Taskbar”.
From here, you can toggle Search, Widget, and Activity View on and off. For other icons, right click on the icon and choose “Remove from System Tray”. You can pin any open app to the taskbar the same way. Right-click and choose "Pin to Taskbar".
For Start Menu items, right-click an app and choose “Unpin from Start”. You can also search for apps and choose "Pin to Start" from the search function. You may also want to delete the "Recommended" section. However, removing this section won't give you extra space - it just leaves an empty area on the Start menu - but it looks better.
To remove recommended apps and documents from the Start menu, open “Settings -> Personalization -> Start”.
Disable items you don't want to appear on the Start menu. You can also customize the folders displayed next to the "Power" button.
Check your settings
Browse the Settings, especially the privacy settings, to check everything that has been carried over from Windows 10. While it should be the same, Microsoft is known to tweak the settings based on what the company thinks is best for you. .
Stop Xbox from running
If you've already removed Xbox from Windows 10, it should remain gone. However, if it reappears or you are just a casual user, you can stop it from starting every time you start your PC.
Open the Xbox app and go to “Settings -> General”, then uncheck “Automatically start app on startup”.
Another option is to right-click on the Start menu and choose “Task Manager”. On the "Startup" tab, right click on Xbox and select "Disable". I don't have Xbox installed, but that's what the process looks like.
You can also disable any Xbox services by opening the "Services" tab in Task Manager, then clicking "Open Services" at the bottom of the window. Right click on all Xbox services, select "Properties" and switch to Manual or Disabled.
Check for updates
You just installed Windows 11, so why check for updates? It's Microsoft, and minor updates may already be available. Make sure you are not missing any important features or security updates. This is especially true if you install Windows 11 later.
Go to “Settings -> Windows Update”. Click "Check for Updates".
How to get back to Windows 10 from Windows 11
Don't like Windows 11 or some of your hardware / apps aren't working properly? No problem. You can go back to Windows 10 at any time. However, you only have 10 days to go back without losing files and apps. It is similar to uninstalling a Windows update. After 10 days, you will need to perform a clean install of Windows 10.
If you fall within the 10-day window, please follow the instructions below:
- Go to “Settings -> System”.
- Scroll down until you see Recovery in the right pane.
- Press "Go Back" to start the downgrade to Windows 10.
- You will then need to tell Microsoft why you are restoring. Click "Next" and proceed through the instructions to get back to Windows 10.
There is a trick to extend the downgrade window to 60 days. This gives you two months to try Windows 11 and still get back to Windows 10 without having to perform a clean install.
- Right-click on the Start menu and choose “Windows PowerShell (Administrator)”. Alternatively, use the Search icon to search for PowerShell. Make sure you open it with admin rights.
- Type the following:
- The command will show you have 10 days in the uninstall window, which is the default. Enter the following command to extend it to 60.
dism /online /Set-OSUninstallWindow /Value:60
- If you run the first command again, you will see that the downgrade window has changed to 60.
How to prevent Windows 10 from automatically upgrading to Windows 11
While you can make the changes in Group Policy Editor, Windows 10 Home users don't have access to this, so the most universal method is through the Registry Editor. Also, Windows Update shouldn't automatically update you. You will need to confirm whether to update or not. But, in case Microsoft tries to get pushy, you have the following option.
Open "Start" and type "Registry Editor". Select “Run as Administrator” in Registry Editor.
- Go to:
- If you don't see WindowsUpdate, right click on “Windows” and select “New -> Key”. Call it "Windows Update".
- Right click on "Windows Update" and select "New -> DWORD (32 bit) Value".
- Name the new value (in the right pane) “TargetReleaseVersion” and press “Enter” to save it. Double click on the new value and set the value to “1”, then press “OK” to save.
- Right click on "Windows Update" again. This time select “New -> String Value”. Enter “TargetReleaseVersionInfo” as the name.
- Double-click on “TargetReleaseVersionInfo” and enter “21H1” or “21H2”, depending on the version of Windows 10 you are running. Press “OK” to save.
- Restart your computer to save your changes.
[saswp_tiny_multiple_faq headline-0 = ”h3 ″ question-0 =” Is it safe to continue using Windows 10 now that Windows 11 is available? ” answer-0 = ”As safe as it always has been. Microsoft will provide extended support for Windows 10 through October 2025. Mainstream support, meaning feature updates, ends in October 2021. Put simply, you will continue to receive updates and security patches for most of 2025. At that point, you will probably need to replace your current PC anyway. There is also a good chance these dates could be extended. After all, Windows 8.1 extended support doesn't end until 2023. " image-0 = ”” headline-1 = ”h3 ″ question-1 =” Can Windows 7 and 8.1 users upgrade to Windows 11? ” answer-1 = ”Technically, yes, assuming the PC is compatible. However, you need to upgrade to Windows 10 first. " image-1 = "" headline-2 = "h3 ″ question-2 =" Do I have to use a Microsoft account with Windows 11? " answer-2 = ”Microsoft definitely wants you to, but as with Windows 10, you don't need a Microsoft account to use the operating system. If you want to download something from the Microsoft Store or use certain Windows apps / features, you'll be prompted to have an account. However, you won't need an account just to use your computer. " image-2 = "" count = "3 ″ html =" true "]