How to get the Windows 11 beta


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Microsoft has released the first official builds of Windows 11. Here’s how to get Windows 11 and try it out for yourself.

You’ll need two things: first, a PC that meets the minimum hardware specifications of Windows 11. Second, you may need to join the Windows Insider program so that your PC can receive the first beta or Windows Insider builds of Windows 11. As of August 19, though, there’s a second way to receive a Windows 11 beta build: by downloading an .ISO file. (Remember, the Windows 11 beta is beta software. We’d advise that you do not run it on a primary/work PC without understanding that a bug could, in the worst case, render it inoperable.)

We would also very much encourage you to read our earlier story on the Windows 11 minimum hardware specifications, download Microsoft’s app, and check to see if your PC is eligible to upgrade to Windows 11. If it’s not, there’s one loophole that may see you through to Windows 11, which we’ll explain as part of our next section.

For more on Windows 11, make sure to bookmark PCWorld’s Windows 11 FAQ as well as our Windows 11 superguide, too. 

To try out Windows 11, join the Windows Insider program

Microsoft’s Windows Insider program is the beta program for its operating system. As an Insider, you have the opportunity to try out new code before everyone else does. As our Windows Insider introduction details, there are three channels of code: the Dev Channel, the Beta Channel, and the Release Preview Channel. The Dev Channel is the most “aggressive” channel: You’ll see the earliest, least-tested code first. If you choose the Dev Channel, you’ll download the first Windows 11 build, provided your PC’s hardware qualifies.

If you want to be the very first to try out the first official builds of Windows 11, you’ll need to be part of the Windows Insider Dev Channel or the Beta Channel—Microsoft has added Windows 11 to the Beta Channel as of July 29. Windows 11 builds will also be accessible, eventually, from the most conservative Release Preview Channel, which publishes largely finished code. You’ll just have to wait longer.

Our how-to story describes how to join the Windows Insider program, but it’s simple: You can join by accessing the Settings menu within your PC, and proceeding from there.

If your PC meets the Windows 11 minimum hardware specifications, you’ll be eligible to choose all three channels. (If you choose Release Preview, you’ll be offered the choice between Windows 10 and Windows 11 code at a later date.) If your PC does not meet the Windows 11 hardware specifications, you’ll be bumped to the Release Preview channel and offered Windows 10 code only.

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