The first beta of Windows 11 has been made available to individuals who have signed up for Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program. Installing the Dev version, which Microsoft says is for “very technical people” since it has “rough edges,” was the only way to obtain access to Windows 11 until today. The beta release, according to Microsoft, is less volatile, with builds approved by the company (though it’s still something you’ll want to install on a test system or a second partition).
Of course, you’ll need a suitable computer to install the beta. It’s notoriously difficult to figure out if your gear will function with the next version of Windows, but Microsoft’s blog about preparing for Insider versions links visitors to its system requirements website. The business has stated that it will be closely monitoring the performance of 7th Gen Intel and AMD Zen 1 CPUs during the testing phase, so certain computers may be allowed to run the beta but not the final version.
The beta release is also good news for those of us who installed the Dev preview to get a head start on Windows 11 but don’t need to be on the bleeding (read: buggy) edge. If you’re in the same boat as me, you can go to the Beta channel by navigating to Settings > Windows Update > Windows Insider Program, then selecting Choose your Insider Settings.
Switching from Dev to Beta usually necessitates a full OS reinstallation, but the Windows Insider Twitter account claims that it will be possible to do so in place for a “limited amount of time.” If you don’t need to stay on the Dev channel, it’s probably ideal to go on that as quickly as possible.
Switching to the Beta channel took simply a fast reboot – a tiny price to pay for what should be smoother sailing until the official release.
If you’re still using Windows 10 but want to participate in the test, you can sign up for Microsoft’s beta program here. While Microsoft claims that Beta Channel releases are more stable than Dev Channel releases, they remain betas. There will almost certainly be problems, crashes, and missing functionality – Microsoft even has a full list of current difficulties in its blog post, which also states that the Teams Chat feature, which is accessible in the Dev channel for select customers, isn’t yet available for beta users.
If you’ve been eager to try out Windows 11, the operating system is now reliable enough that Microsoft is willing to declare it ready for early users.