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Microsoft's Windows 11 public beta will be here any day now, with the full release happening at some point later this year.

Microsoft said Windows 11 will start rolling out around the 2021 holidays, but there are some clues hinting that it may arrive earlier.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Nearly six years on from the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has finally unveiled the Windows 11 operating system, featuring a cleaner, more Mac-like design and a bunch of new features. Windows 11 will be available as a free download for existing Windows users during the 2021 holiday season, according to a Microsoft blog post published after the virtual announcement event. However, new clues suggest that the update may actually arrive earlier. (Here's how to download Windows 11 once it's available, and everything you need to know about Windows 11.) 

The free upgrade will begin to roll out to eligible Windows 10 PCs around the holidays (which would suggest November or December), and will continue into 2022, the post said. No specific date was announced. But it appears that Microsoft and laptop retailers may be hinting at an earlier release time: October. 

During the Windows 11 reveal event, a Microsoft Teams message popped up on the demo screen that said "excited to turn it up to 11... can't wait for October!" And many press images for Windows 11 include a date of Oct. 20 in the taskbar, The Verge noted. Plus, Walmart's website lists a "free Upgrade to Windows October 2021 when available" on certain laptops. 

When asked about the October hints, Microsoft said it had nothing to share.

To find out if your computer will be compatible with Windows 11, check out our guide here. And if you just can't wait for the final release, you can download the Windows 11 Insider Preview build now. 

If you haven't updated to Windows 10 yet, you can still take advantage of a trick for downloading Windows 10 free that still works. Now would be a good time to make the switch to prepare your machine for the Windows 11 upgrade. 

For more, check out the best new Windows 11 features and how to use them, and every big difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11. 

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See also

  • Windows 11 reveal event: All the free upgrades coming this fall
  • Windows 11: Price, compatibility, release date and features for the new OS
  • Android apps are coming to Windows 11, and here's what you should know
  • Microsoft Teams is beefed up in Windows 11, and FaceTime better watch out

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