Microsoft, Partners Begin Windows 11 Upgrade Rollout

Windows 11 is available on Oct. 5, preloaded on select new OEM devices and as a free update to some PCs.

Jeffrey Schwartz

October 4, 2021

3 Min Read
Windows 11 logo

Microsoft’s Windows 11 upgrade is starting to roll out as a free OS update or on new PCs. The first major Windows redesign in six years, which Microsoft revealed in June, becomes available on Oct. 5.

Sporting a more modern and extensible interface, Windows 11 introduces an improved taskbar and simplified Start Menu that is centered. The design focuses on improved productivity, including integrated Microsoft Teams chat, that can access the complete voice and meetings client. With quick access to cloud apps, Microsoft said it has adapted Windows 11 to match changes in how people work.


Microsoft’s Panos Panay

“Windows 11 is the operating system for hybrid work and learning,” according to a post Monday by chief product officer Panos Panay announcing the official release. “With the shift to hybrid work, where work is constantly changing, we understand the importance of an operating system that is flexible, consistent, secure and works how you work. That’s why Windows 11 is built on the consistent, compatible and familiar Windows 10 foundation that is easy for IT to manage.”

Panay noted PCs recently announced by key OEM partners including Acer, ASUS, HP, Lenovo and its own new Surface portfolio. Acer, Dell and Samsung, among others, plan to debut new Windows 11 devices imminently, he noted.

Expect enterprise and commercial customers to take the same measured approach in upgrading to Windows 11 as they have with past new OS releases. As usual, individuals are likely to take an early lead in making the move. Early testers in Microsoft’s Windows Insider program generally like the changes.

“From a user point of view, they like the modern interface, the usability aspects built into the end-user navigation and multiscreen customization, the integration with Microsoft Teams, and all of the new communication capabilities,” said Mahadeva Bisappa, principal architect, cloud and digital transformation at SPR, a Microsoft partner that provides application development and cloud transformation services.

Potential Upgrade Headwinds

Despite the enthusiasm from Microsoft and its OEM and ISV partners, it remains to be seen how quickly customers will upgrade. A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. PC users by found less than 40% were aware of Windows 11. Told of the free upgrade, 45% of respondents were undecided as to whether they will initially download Windows 11. Also, two out of three users were unsure whether their PCs could support the new operating system.

Indeed, various reports indicate that such uncertainty as to whether their PCs were upgradable to Windows 10 is warranted. A Windows 11 readiness audit by IT asset management (ITAM) provider Lansweeper found that only 44 percent of CPUs on workstations tested, met those requirements. Lansweeper’s assessment was based on a scan of 30 million Windows devices among 60,000 organizations

Microsoft’s PC Health Check App can determine if current Windows 10 systems meet the hardware requirements for the upgrade. While Microsoft will let anyone manually install Windows 11, it marks the end of support for 32-bit systems.

Windows 11 requires a 1Ghz processor with two or more cores on a 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC), 4GB of RAM, at least 64GB of storage, Microsoft’s Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and it must be UEFI, Secure Boot capable. The PC must also have a graphics card with DirectX12 or later with a WDDM driver and an HD display (at least 720p) that is larger than 9 inches with 8 bits per color channel. Microsoft also listed various feature-specific requirements.

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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