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Windows 11: What to do before you download Microsoft’s new OS

You’ll need to take two extra steps before you can download Windows 11.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 11, starts rolling out today as a free upgrade to those already using Windows 10 (find out how you can download Windows 11 free, and how to check if your computer is compatible). But if you’re setting up a Windows 11 Home account — which most people using it on a personal device will be — you’ll have to go through a couple of extra steps before you can actually get started.


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Windows 11 will require two things before you can set up the operating system (outside of the usual hardware requirements): a Microsoft account, and internet connectivity. 

Though the process is a little bit different from years past, it’s not difficult, and will give you access to all of Windows 11’s new features. The OS includes a new, more streamlined design, and updated features, including support for Android apps, easy toggling between multiple virtual desktops and better multitasking

Here’s what you’ll need to do before you can upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 Home

Create a Microsoft account (or sign into yours)

microsoft-account

You’ll need to create a free Microsoft account before you download Windows 11. 


Microsoft

To set up Windows 11 Home, you’ll need a Microsoft account, which gives you access to Microsoft products and services. Don’t worry — it’s free to create one. 

In the past, it was possible to opt out of creating a Microsoft account and use a local one instead (though the process wasn’t intuitive). It appears that with Windows 11, you will need to create a Microsoft account to get started. After that point, you can delete your Microsoft account and sign in with a local account if you’d like, and this won’t impact how you use the OS — but you won’t be able to sync content across multiple devices. A Microsoft account also allows easier transferring from your old PC to a new one, and more options for signing in. 

Windows 11 Pro and the version built for enterprise use will not require people to sign into Microsoft accounts.

Here’s how to create a free Microsoft account before Windows 11 rolls out:

1. Go to account.microsoft.com, and click Sign in.

2. Tap Create one to make a new account. (If you already have an account, you can sign in here.)

3. Enter your email address. Or, if you’d rather create a new email address through Microsoft (which will appear as @outlook.com), click Get a new email address, enter what you’d like, and click Next. 

4. Create a password, and click Next.

5. Enter your country/region and date of birth, and click Next

6. Check your email for a verification code, and click Next.

That’s it! 

Connect to the internet 

Windows 11 update on a laptop

You need to have an internet connect to first set up Windows 11.


Sarah Tew/CNET

To download Windows 11 Home (and to create a Microsoft account), you’ll also need to be connected to the internet. The reason for this is that Windows 11 will primarily be delivered as a Windows Update, much like newer versions of Windows 10 have been.

You’ll also need the internet to perform future updates and to take advantage of some of the new Windows 11 features, according to Microsoft, though it hasn’t specified which ones yet. 

This requirement may pose a problem for those who lack easy internet access. However, after you connect for the initial setup, you don’t have to connect again if you don’t want to (though you should to get important security updates that prevent vulnerabilities). 

If you’re downloading Windows 11 on your current computer, just make sure you’re connected to the internet before you start the process. If you buy a new Windows 11 computer after the OS is generally released, you should be prompted to connect to the internet when you’re setting it up.

For more, check out how Windows 11 compares to Windows 10, everything to know about making the upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11, and all the Windows 11 features we wanted but didn’t get


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