When writing this article, Windows 11 has just received its first major update: Windows 11 2022 Update or 22H2. It brings several new features and quality of life improvements, so you may want to get your hands on it as soon as possible. If you don’t want to wait to receive it via Windows Update, you can download the latest Windows 11 ISO. Use it to 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 created this tutorial, in which we’re showing you how to install Windows 11:
What you need to install Windows 11
Before installing 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. You can also use the PC Health Check app for this purpose.
If your PC works with Windows 11, you can download the latest Windows 11 ISO file directly from Microsoft. For help on this matter, read this guide: 4 ways to download the full version of Windows 11 for free.
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. You can also use Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool to create a USB stick with the Windows 11 setup files.
Before you start, you should also have your Windows 10 or Windows 11 product key ready. You need it to activate the operating system during the installation process or afterward. If you need help recovering your product key, read this guide: Find your Windows product key. 8 apps that help you recover it!
If you want to try Windows 11 for a while before deciding whether to stick to it and buy a genuine product key, you’ll be happy to know that Windows 11 doesn't require a product key to install and use. You can just skip the step of providing a product key. We offer more details in the installation guide below.
If you’re installing Windows 11 on a computer or device that 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, before installing Windows 11, know that, on top of a working internet connection, you should have a Microsoft account. Without one, you won’t be able to finish installing Windows 11, and you’ll have to create one during the setup process.
Without further ado, regardless of whether you want to know how to install Windows 11 from DVD, from an ISO file, or how to clean install Windows 11 from a USB stick, here are the steps involved:
How to clean install Windows 11 from a DVD, USB stick, or ISO file
Boot your PC from the Windows 11 installation disc, USB stick, or 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.” Then, regardless of whether you want to boot from a USB stick or DVD/ISO file, press any key on your keyboard to load the Windows 11 Setup 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.
Click or tap the Install now button to proceed with the Windows 11 installation.
After a couple of seconds, Windows 11 asks you to enter a product key. If you’re reinstalling Windows 11 or 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 automatically activate after you finish installing it. Do the same if you want to try Windows 11 for a few days without buying it right now. If you have a product key for it, type it carefully, and then click or tap Next.
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. Home users should select either Home or Pro, depending on which edition they bought or want to try. Education or Enterprise are suitable for organizations, not home users. For more information about the different editions and versions of Windows 11, read this article: How to check the Windows 11 version and edition.
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. Note that you can’t install Windows 11 without accepting them.
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 want to keep your files, settings, and applications. Otherwise, for a clean install of Windows 11 from scratch, select “Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).”
Moving forward, you get to choose where to install Windows 11. Select the drive or partition for it, and then press Next. If you need or want to configure partitions manually in a specific way, you can use the options found under the list of drives. You can create new partitions, delete old ones, format them, and so on. Once you’re done, press Next.
The actual Windows 11 installation process begins. First, you’ll have to wait 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 this step may take longer if you use a hard disk instead of a solid-state drive.
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.
After rebooting, you might see a few messages telling you that Windows 11 is running scripts and getting ready. Wait for it to do its thing without shutting down your PC or manually restarting it.
Some additional restarts may be performed. That’s normal, so be patient and don’t panic.
How to customize your Windows 11 installation
As the installation is almost over, now comes the time to customize Windows 11. First, the setup wizard asks you in what country or region you live. Choose it from the list, and then click or tap Yes.
Then, select the keyboard layout that you prefer using, and press Yes.
You can add a second one if you intend to use more than just one keyboard layout. If you don’t, click or tap Skip. Note that you will still be able to install new keyboard layouts after installing Windows 11, so it’s not mandatory to do this right now.
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.
Next, the Windows 11 Setup asks 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 name chosen by Microsoft, you can press “Skip for now.”
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 work or school” and use your business account to sign in and access your resources.
Next comes the part of the Windows 11 installation process where you get to add or create a Microsoft account. Go to the next page of this article to continue reading our step-by-step guide.