As you’ve undoubtedly noticed already, a big Windows 11 build has just leaked onto the internet, and it reveals a lot of details about Microsoft’s upcoming OS. We’ve already grabbed the Windows 11 default wallpapers for you to download and use right now if you’d like. One of the things you may be wondering about is whether you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 11 for free, and it looks like that may be the case. In fact, evidence suggests that even if you’re still using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you’ll still be able to upgrade to Windows 11 for free.
As you can see in the screenshots below, Windows 11 has product configuration keys meant to support Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. There’s also a file for Windows 8, but that version isn’t supported. You’ll need to upgrade to Windows 8.1 first before upgrading to Windows 11, just like it was with Windows 10.
We haven’t attempted the upgrade path ourselves yet given that the Windows 11 build just leaked a couple of hours ago. In any case, this news shouldn’t be surprising to hear since Windows 11 is ultimately a new look and feel for Windows 10. We’ve been hearing about the Sun Valley visual refresh for some time now, and we expected it to be part of Windows 10 at first. Windows 11 seems to just be a new name for the upcoming update. You can see that the build number for the leaked Windows 11 build isn’t that far off from the builds Insiders were testing for Windows 10 so far. Most likely, the upgrade to Windows 11 won’t feel all that different from a feature update for Windows 10 users. Nearly everyone that’s already using Windows should thus have a free upgrade to Windows 11.
This is only natural, since Microsoft has constantly been talking about how many devices are now running Windows 10. Just last month at Build, CEO Satya Nadella reiterated that the OS is now on 1.3 billion machines. It would make very little sense for Microsoft to split its userbase again.
And yes, you can still upgrade from Windows 7 and 8.1 to Windows 10 for free right now if you want. While Microsoft initially said the free upgrade path would only last for a year, you’ve always been able to do it since Windows 10 released. You just need to use the Media Creation Tool available on Microsoft’s website rather than using Windows Update.