How to install Windows 11 from USB, DVD, or ISO

Windows 11’s launch is just around the corner, and official ISOs are already out. So, if you want to install Windows 11, you can do so right now. All you have to do is create a Windows 11 installation disc and follow the setup wizard’s steps. You can even do a clean install of Windows 11 from a USB stick. To help you out, we decided to create this tutorial, in which we’re showing you how to install Windows 11 and all the steps. Here they are:

What you need for installing Windows 11

Before trying to install Windows 11, check whether your PC is compatible with this operating system. To see if it checks all the boxes, read all the minimum Windows 11 system requirements.

We wrote this tutorial using the official Windows 11 Insider Preview (Dev Channel) build 22000.132, the most recent version available at the moment. You can download the ISO file directly from Microsoft, from the Windows Insider Preview webpage. However, note that you have to have a Microsoft account and enroll in the Insider Preview program to do that.

Once you have a Windows 11 ISO file, you need to use a tool like Rufus to create a bootable USB memory stick or burn the ISO file on a DVD. If you intend to install Windows 11 inside a virtual machine, for now, we recommend sticking to VMware Workstation Player (Free) or Pro (Paid).

A look at Windows 11

Before you start, you should also have your Windows 10 product key ready. You need it to activate your Windows 11 operating system. Even if you can finish the installation without one, you can’t use all of Windows 11’s features until you activate it.

In case you’re installing Windows 11 on a computer or device on which you previously had an activated copy of Windows 10, then you can install Windows 11 without providing a product key. When Windows 11 finishes installing, the Microsoft servers should detect your previous Windows 10 license and automatically activate your Windows 11 for free. So, if the question on your mind was “Can I install Windows 11 for free?”, then yes, you can!

Finally, if you’re installing a Home edition of Windows 11, know that you should have a working internet connection and a Microsoft account. Without one, you won’t be able to finish the installation. However, if you’re installing a Pro or higher edition of Windows 11, you can finalize the installation without any of them, and you can also choose to create and use a local (non-Microsoft) offline account.

Without further ado, regardless of whether you want to know how to install Windows 11 from DVD, how to install Windows 11 from an ISO file, or how to clean install Windows 11 from a USB stick, here are the steps:

How to clean install Windows 11 from a USB stick, DVD, or ISO file

Boot your PC or virtual machine from the Windows 11 installation disc, USB stick, or the ISO file. Wait for a second or two, and your computer or device should briefly display a message asking you to “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD.” Regardless of whether you want to boot from a USB stick or DVD/ISO file, press any key you want to load the Windows 11 install wizard.

Starting the Windows 11 install wizard

Then, the Windows 11 setup wizard starts. It first asks you what language, time and currency format, and keyboard input settings you’d like to use. Choose what you prefer and press Next.

Windows 11 Setup - Choose the language, time, currency, and keyboard

Press the Install now button to begin the Windows 11 setup.

Press Install now

After a couple of seconds, Windows 11 asks you to enter a product key. At the time of publishing this guide, Microsoft didn’t start selling Windows 11 licenses. However, as Windows 11 is offered as a free upgrade from Windows 10, you can use any Windows 10 product key. If you have one, type it and press Next.

If you are reinstalling Windows 11, or if you previously had a Windows 10 copy installed on this PC, click or tap on "I don't have a product key." Your Windows 11 will be automatically activated later on, after you finish installing the operating system.

Enter the Windows 11 activation key

On the next step, the Windows Setup asks you to select which edition of Windows 11 you’d like to install. Choose the one you want and press Next.

Choose the Windows 11 edition you want to install

Now, Microsoft presents you with the “Applicable notices and license terms” for Windows 11. Read what the company has to say, and if you want to continue installing Windows 11, check the box from the bottom of the window to accept the terms, and press Next.

Accept the license terms

Next, comes the step where you must choose how to install Windows 11: as an Upgrade or as a Custom installation. Select Upgrade if you already have Windows 10 installed on your PC and you’d like to keep your files, settings, and applications. Otherwise, for a clean install of Windows 11 from scratch, select "Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)."

Click or tap on Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)

Next, you get to choose where to install Windows 11. Select the drive or partition for it, and then press Next. In case you need or want to manually configure partitions in a specific way, you can also use the options found under the list of drives and partitions to create new partitions, delete old ones, format, and so on. Once you’re done, press Next.

Choose the partition where to install Windows 11

Now the actual Windows 11 install process begins. You’ll have to wait for a couple of minutes for the required files to be copied and for Windows 11’s features to be installed on your PC.

Note that if you’re using a hard disk drive instead of a solid-state drive, it may take more than just a couple of minutes.

Windows 11 is installing

The setup wizard should automatically reboot once the Windows 11 files have been copied and its features installed. When that happens, you’re notified, and you could hurry the process a bit by pressing the Restart now button instead of waiting for 10 seconds.

Restart your computer now

After rebooting, you might get a glimpse of a few messages telling you that Windows 11 is running scripts and getting ready. Wait for it to do its thing.

Windows 11 is getting ready to finalize its installation

This step might come with some additional restarts of your PC, but that’s normal, so be patient. After the reboots are finished, you’ll know that Windows 11 is almost done installing when you see its logo:

The Windows 11 logo

How to customize your Windows 11 installation (setup steps)

As the installation is almost over, now comes the time to customize your Windows 11. The setup wizard continues by asking you in what country or region you live. Choose it from the list, and then click or tap Yes.

Choose your country from the list

Then, select the keyboard layout that you prefer using, and press Yes.

Choose the keyboard layout you want to use

If you intend to use more than just one keyboard layout, you can add a second one on the next step. If you don’t, click or tap on Skip. Note that you will still be able to install new keyboard layouts after installing Windows 11, so it’s not a mandatory thing to do right now.

Choose whether to add a second keyboard layout

If your computer or device is connected to the internet, Windows 11 should check for and install any available updates. Wait for this process to finish.

The setup checks for Windows 11 updates

Next, the Windows 11 setup asks you if you’d like to name your PC. Type the name you want to give it, and press Next. If you don’t care and you’re OK with a default name chosen by Windows 11 for it, you can just press “Skip for now.”

Choosing a name for your Windows 11 device

TIP: If you want to install Windows 11 without a Microsoft account, follow this guide: How to install and use Windows 11 with a local account.

Windows 11 continues by asking you how you’d like to set up your device: “Set up for personal use” or “Set up for work or school.” As you’re probably a home user, you should choose "Set up for personal use" and press Next. However, if your computer belongs to an organization like a company or a school, select "Set up for an organization" and use your business account to sign in and access your resources.

Choose to install Windows 11 for personal use

Next, comes the part of the Windows 11 installation process where you get to choose whether you’ll use a Microsoft account or not. If you’re installing Windows 11 Home, you will have to use a Microsoft account. If you’re installing Windows 11 Pro or other editions of Windows 11, you can also choose to use an offline account. Read the section that applies to you on the next page of this tutorial.

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