Tips for knowing how and when to upgrade to Windows 11

Apr 29, 2023, 7:15 AM

Windows 11 and Windows 10 operating system logos are displayed on laptop screens for illustration p...

Windows 11 and Windows 10 operating system logos are displayed on laptop screens for illustration photo. Krakow, Poland on February 3, 2022. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Q: With Windows 10 being discontinued, should I upgrade to Windows 11 now?

A: Windows 10 isn’t being discontinued; it’s coming up to its ‘End Of Life’ in Microsoft’s support lifecycle.

It’s hard to believe that Windows 10 will be ten years old when Microsoft discontinues support for it in 2025, but as with previous operating systems, it’s been replaced with code that is more aligned with today’s hardware (Windows 11).

Everyone using Windows 10 will at some point be forced to upgrade, so it’s not a matter of if, but when.

The age of your computer, how you use it and plans to replace it in the near future will be important factors.

Windows 11 Hardware Requirements
One of the biggest considerations will be the age of your current computer. Windows 10 was designed to run on just about any type of hardware, while Windows 11’s hardware requirements are more stringent.

The easiest way to see if your hardware is Windows 11 ready is to follow the steps Microsoft has posted using their PC Health Check app:

Even if the initial check says your computer can’t run Windows 11, it’s possible that the reason that they provide can be resolved by making changes to how your hardware is set up – make sure to click the ‘Learn More’ button.

If your hardware can’t meet the requirements, then your course of action is clear – you’ll have to get a newer computer. The good news is that you have over a year to make the switch to a new computer as the support cut-off date is October 14, 2025.

Any new computer that you buy will already have Windows 11 on it, so if you’re planning to get a new computer in the next year, there’s little reason to spend the time or the potential expense to upgrade your existing computer.

Software Compatibility Issues
Even if your hardware is deemed compatible, you’ll still need to do some research before attempting the upgrade as there could be software compatibilities with older programs.

Any programs that you rely upon should be checked for Windows 11 compatibility by going to the software company’s support website or by doing web searches for known compatibility issues.

If you’re using current Microsoft productivity tools and mostly web-based programs, upgrading shouldn’t be a big deal. As long as you have the most current version of Windows 10, you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 11 for free:

Before You Upgrade
Just because Microsoft’s tools tell you that you can upgrade, you should delay doing so under certain circumstances.

First and foremost, if you are experiencing issues such as extremely long startup times, intermittent freezing and lockups, or recurring error messages, addressing the cause of these symptoms before upgrading is advisable.

If your existing system is unstable or error-prone, attempting an operating system upgrade can go terribly wrong and result in a non-functioning computer that will require substantial technical skills to get things working again.

In all cases, be sure you have a verified backup of your critical data before getting started in the event of a major issue.

If you’re not willing to do the homework and testing to determine your best path, consult a professional to help you determine how and when you should upgrade.

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Tips for knowing how and when to upgrade to Windows 11