How to download the Windows 11 preview build

It's pretty simple.

Image via Microsoft

Windows 11 doesn’t have a set release date just yet, but that doesn’t mean users will have to wait any longer to see what will be waiting for them inside the next operating system for their PCs.

Microsoft just released the insider build for Windows 11, build 22000.51. Users who are registered to Windows’ insider program will be able to download the build and test out to the initial build while reporting any of the bugs they may come across. If this is your first time hearing about Windows’ insider program and you’re looking to try out Windows 11, you can still install it by joining the program first. Once that’s out of the way, the rest will be a relatively simple process.

Here’s how you can download the Windows 11 preview build.

How to register for the Windows Insider Program

If you’ve been using your copy of Windows without an account assigned for it, you’ll need to create an Outlook/Windows account. After creating your account, log into it through your operating system’s options panel.

  • Click on Start
  • Choose Accounts and select Your Info
  • Select the “Sign in with a Microsoft account instead” option and enter your credentials
  • Once that’s out of the way, head over to Windows Insider Program’s home page
  • Click on Register and accept the terms and conditions before hitting the submit button

After enrolling to the program, a new setting will appear on the right panel of the Account section of your settings. Click on the “Windows Insider Program” button on the right panel. You’ll need to enable sharing diagnostic data to move on with the process, however, since the primary purpose of the preview builds and the Insider Program are to gather as much as possible feedback on the product.

Depending on when you’re trying to install the preview build, you may see three different options, Dev Channel, Beta Channel, and the Release Preview Channel. The development stage of the operating system is the main difference between these versions. As of writing this article, you’ll only be able to choose Dev Channel since the preview build hasn’t advanced to the next stages, just yet.

How can you download the Windows 11 preview build?

Before starting the download process, you should check out the system requirements for Windows 11. In general, most computers that aren’t older than five-to-six years old should be able to run Windows 11.

Even if you have a fairly recent build, you should still see if you have Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (TPM.) TPM is essentially a security that aims to make it harder for hackers to crack your operating system. TPM 2.0 is a requirement to install Windows 11, and you can check if you have it on your system by doing the following.

  • You can navigate around your BIOS settings to see if there’s a TPA option
    • Considering BIOS interfaces can depend on your system’s motherboard, you’ll need to Google guides tailored for your model and brand.
  • Alternatively, you can also press on Win+R and type “tpm.msc” to check if you have TPM 2.0 turned on.
    • This method won’t tell you whether your PC is TPM 2.0 capable, but it can save you a trip to your BIOS settings if you have it enabled by default.

After registering as a Windows Insider and ensuring TPM 2.0 is turned on, you can simply head over to the Updates panel and check for any recent updates.

The Windows 11 should appear automatically after searching for updates and you’ll be able to download it as if it was a regular update. Once the update is downloaded, you’ll be prompted with an installation screen. The instructions on your screen will guide you through the installation process.

Though setting up Windows 11 is relatively easy after you download the update, you may want to consider using a spare boot drive or dual-booting while installing Windows 11. The OS is still in its early stages of development for public usage, and it won’t be a decent idea to use it as your main OS for the time being. Most programs that you use frequently won’t be optimized for Windows 11, causing problems in terms of productivity. 

Considering even dual-booting can cause some files to go corrupted, using a separate drive will be the better of the two options. Once you’re done exploring Windows 11, you can switch back to your old drive and even format the one you used, if you’d like to wait for the full release.

Microsoft doesn’t have a set a date for Windows 10’s release as of yet, but it’s planning on making it available for all users before 2021 wraps up. When it publicly releases, it’s likely to be available for all Windows 10 users as an update, and there shouldn’t be any activation problems for users who are already running activated copies of Windows 10.