No direct upgrade path from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 11

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 8, 2021
Updated • Jul 8, 2021
Windows 11 News

Devices that run Microsoft's Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 operating systems can't be upgraded to Windows 11 directly using inplace upgrades. Direct upgrades are only available on Windows 10 devices.

A recent news post on Microsoft's German news site reveals the minimum versions for Enterprise organizations and businesses.

Ab Ende des Jahres können Unternehmen berechtigte PCs direkt auf Windows 11 bringen, wenn sie Windows 10 Enterprise ab Version 1909 oder Windows 10 Pro ab Version 20H1 nutzen.

DeepL translates the paragraph in the following way:

Starting at the end of the year, businesses will be able to bring eligible PCs directly up to Windows 11 if they are running Windows 10 Enterprise version 1909 or later or Windows 10 Pro version 20H1 or later.

The minimum Enterprise version of Windows 10 is version 1909, the minimum Pro version 20H1 according to the article. While the news post does not mention consumer devices, it is likely that Windows 10 version 20H1 will be the minimum version required for consumer-based devices when it comes to upgrading to Windows 10.

Windows 11 will tell you how long it will take to install Windows updates

When Microsoft released Windows 10 in 2015, it allowed direct upgrades from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices. Windows XP and Vista users could not upgrade to the new operating system directly, even if compatible.

The main options back then were to run two upgrades, one from XP or Vista to Windows 7 or 8.1, and then another to Windows 10. Similarly, it is possible to use the same method to upgrade Windows 7 or 8.1 devices to Windows 10, before upgrading again to Windows 11.

The method requires that the device meets the minimum system requirements of the target operating system.

Besides chaining upgrades, it may also be possible to clean install Windows 11 on a device instead. Downside to this is that all installed programs, customizations and files on the main drive, won't be available after the installation completes. You need to create backups of these files, and install programs anew.

Upside is that the system will run faster as it comes without ballast from two previous operating systems.

Closing Words

It remains to be seen if Windows 7 and 8.1 users will upgrade their devices to Windows 10 or 11. Consumer versions of Windows 7 are not supported anymore and Windows 8.1 is nearing its end of support on January 10, 2023.

My guess is that most won't, as Windows 11 is very similar to Windows 10.

Now You: clean install or inplace upgrade, how would you upgrade to Windows 11? (via Deskmodder)

No direct upgrade path from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 11
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No direct upgrade path from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 11
Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices can't be upgraded directly to Microsoft's Windows 11 operating system.
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  1. Kent Brockman said on July 11, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    My plan is to keep a 10 (or “downgrade” to 7) system or two around to run MS only programs and move the rest to Linux. This, before I will be forced to buy new hardware to run 11 when MS inevitably drops support for 10.

  2. Mothy said on July 10, 2021 at 10:22 pm

    I always do a clean install to ensure the system runs as well as possible. But I have no plans to use anything newer than Windows 8.1 Pro (with Open/Classic Shell). Tried Windows 10 for a while a couple years ago but the system never really felt like it was mine serving my needs but instead Microsoft’s. That should never happen with an operating system! So I wiped it and installed 8.1 and never looked back. I plan to use it for a while yet even after support ends in 2023.

  3. Trey said on July 10, 2021 at 5:04 am

    I’m sure most people still on 7 or 8.1 at this point don’t give a ding-dang about 11.

  4. Ed Canuck said on July 9, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    I expect a rash of new Linux users from this move – and they will be happier for it. I was and continue to be. Never going back to Windoze.

    I recently installed Zorin 15.3 on my old Win8.1 Laptop and it runs better then ever (and with very little fuss I might add).

  5. Ed Canuck said on July 9, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    So glad I left Windows. My old (+ last Win Laptop) is now happily operating with Zorin v15.3 – and it is a pleasure to use.

    I think this Win11 will be the death knell for most Windoze “personal/casual PC” customers and I expect a Tsunami of new Linux users to drop the Win7/8 systems and just install one of the simple to install distros like Mint or Zorin in next 4yrs.

    Once they get up the nerve to switch I think they will be shocked to discover how “abused” they were (or at least been taken advantage of) and will never go back again. Or at least that was my experience.

    No more “forced upgrades”, high priced software that doesn’t work as promised and no more forced learning of new menus/hidden commands etc. (You will have to learn a couple of new Commands for install/security – but nothing outrageous).

  6. Anonymous said on July 9, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    Windows 11 is just a ugly theme pack over Windows 10 and ton of useful features removed. Who would want to rush out to get 11 and restrict themselves what they can do on their desktop?

  7. David said on July 9, 2021 at 8:46 am

    That’s great news!

  8. Anonymous said on July 9, 2021 at 8:38 am

    Sooo good news!!
    We don’t need more degraded telemetry platforms from pathetic ms. Win10 already showed it’s evil internals. Glad that i won’t see 11.

  9. Billy Murphy said on July 9, 2021 at 6:56 am

    Yet another reason to not bother with Windows 11.

    It’s a lame horse before it’s even out of the gate.

  10. Anonymous said on July 8, 2021 at 10:56 pm

    Good. I don’t want to DOWNGRADE to Windows 10 or 11. They would have to pay me to use that trash. Windows 7 desktop experience is far above anything else.

  11. Bobber said on July 8, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    Haha look what KDE people did:

  12. microfix said on July 8, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    You can always upgrade to Linux Mint ‘Uma’ 20.2 released today in one of the three flavors Cinnamon, Mate or xfce :)

  13. MdN said on July 8, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    Good decision. When my new PC was made, it was made with Linux in mind and it never saw Windows. It’s running Kubuntu like a charm, and it already looks like Windows 12 (seriously I was looking at Windows 11 demo and it all looked sooo familiar, even the widget menu is a copy, except we already have drag and drop). And Windows still doesn’t have tabs in the file manager.

    1. utilitarian power user said on July 8, 2021 at 10:36 pm

      I don’t care how it looks. My computers just need to provide the tools I need to get my work done ASAP. As such, there’s very little I require from an OS UI, other than it stays out of my way with any superfluous bling.

      Yet I understand that many kids and such like to pretend that their computer is more than it is, such as with having a Sci-Fi fantasy themed computer.

  14. Anonymous said on July 8, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    I won’t be upgrading from Windows 8.1. I will buy a newer computer and either have Ubuntu installed when I buy it, or install it myself over Windows 11.

    1. Will Yam said on July 8, 2021 at 11:04 pm

      If you are so anti Windows, why are you using Windows 8.1 and not already using Ubuntu?

      I have reasons to stay with Windows. It is not my idea of the perfect OS but neither is anything else. We are either very fortunate of compromise no matter what OS we choose.

  15. Bilbo said on July 8, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    “It remains to be seen if Windows 7 and 8.1 users will upgrade their devices to Windows 10 or 11.
    My guess is that most won’t, as Windows 11 is very similar to Windows 10.”

    Well that right there was funny. Most won’t, roughly 99% of the computers on the planet, because they CAN’T run Windows 11. So if want to keep using windows they are forced to use 10, which is bloated and superbuggy and will get killed off in 4 years. If this isn’t the bum deal of the century I don’t know what is… There’s a shortage of microchips, a pandemic, people are struggling financially and Microsoft pulls the biggest D*CK move ever. Everyone really SHOULD d*ckslap microsoft hard across the face and jump to mac, linux and chrome os just to let them know who is running this show.

  16. RobG said on July 8, 2021 at 11:56 am

    “No direct upgrade path from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 11”.

    That’s great news. As someone said on a Microsoft forum the other day – after receiving numerous BSOD’s after a Widows 10 update:- “I am sure glad Microsoft doesn’t make cars, airplanes or rocket ships”.

  17. Tom Hawack said on July 8, 2021 at 11:56 am

    “If those who speak ill of me knew exactly what I think of them, they would say much more.” confessed Sacha Guitry, French actor, director screenwriter.
    Microsoft would certainly speak ill of my Win7+hardware should it ever be candidate for a Windows 11 upgrade, and that’s where the above quote fits in.
    The article is good, great, fantastic news as far as I’m concerned.

  18. Dumbledalf said on July 8, 2021 at 11:55 am

    I agree on the grounds that each version of Windows since around Vista or 7 requires its own partitions of the drive you install it on. Different versions create different system partitions and if you upgrade from one version to the next without doing a clean install, the result may not be as ideal as if it was a clean install.

  19. Corky said on July 8, 2021 at 10:23 am

    Not going to be upgrading to W11, I’ll wait for 12 when hopefully Microsoft will have once again learnt their lesson and come to the realisation that they can’t force their customers into something.

    The more i learn about W11 the more i think it’s targeted at mobile users, only this time instead of going all out with a purely mobile centric GUI they’ve done a better job of balancing the GUI only to screw the pooch in terms of only targeting hardware/security features that are in or suited for mobile users.

    As much as i find Microsoft’s efforts in trying to unify K+M desktop users with touch mobile users surely even they must come to the realisation sooner or later that there is no happy middle ground, that desktop and mobile users are two very distinct groups with very different requirements.

    1. Anonymous said on July 8, 2021 at 10:55 pm

      I heard they are going straight to 13, codenamed ‘lucky’.

    2. consumer rumors said on July 8, 2021 at 10:16 pm

      Mobile users, being with mostly with Android smart phones have pretty much accepted that it’s okay that: you are tracked, the OS is no longer secure just after just 3 years or so at most (depending on when you bought the device), the battery can’t be replaced and/or that other things can’t be upgraded of practically fixed, and that we need to pay rather high monthly fees for everything. There are some exceptions to that, but that’s the trend most costumers have sadly accepted. iPhones are better in some respects, but still worse with others.

      So far, compared to that, Windows and the companies that use it in their devices, have fared much better, especially with desktops. Yet more and more laptops have followed the same trend as smart phones and tablets, by making them rather disposable yet “mobile friendly”.

      That said, I expect that if you want to use Windows 11 on a desktop without much or any mobile elements in the UI, then you will be able to have that. At least that’s what I expect, but I could be wrong. But then we simply don’t know yet, as 11 is not actually done, and many changes may come still, for better or worse.

      That said, to complain about something that is not here yet, seems rather silly to me, but whatever, as people do what they do, as they merge with tech and rant on social.

      Likewise, I understand that the devotees of hate are required to attack MS no matter what, as the cyber mob they follow demands it.

      1. Corky said on July 9, 2021 at 9:12 am

        It’s at most 6 months from release and development builds are already being released so that’s hardly “something that is not here yet”.

        I didn’t think what i said was a rant, personally i think what i said was quiet eloquent and well considered. Obviously you’re welcome to disagree, and I’m not entirely sure if you do as you start out by sort of agreeing with me only to end with insults.

        You also completely missed the point i was making, i actually said Microsoft have done a better job of balancing the needs of desktop and mobile users in terms of the GUI, and that they’re trying to force hardware/security features that are in or suited for mobile users.

        Maybe you should try a bit harder to read and understand what someone has actually said next time before responding, because when your response address points that were not raised and fails to address those that were, while also resorting to insults, it comes across as a bit ranty.

  20. Tom Zwaenepoel said on July 8, 2021 at 10:08 am

    Even if I still would be using Windows 7 in 2021, I’m the kind of person who performs a clean install 1 to 2 times a year, because I tend to thinker a lot with my system.

    Which brings me to my next point : why on earth would one believe that an in place upgrade to Windows 11, of a Windows 7 pc, bought between, say, 2009 – 2016, would be a good idea? ?

  21. Der Schtudebaker said on July 8, 2021 at 9:01 am

    How do you say “Windows 8” in German?

    “Windows 11”.

    Same translation in English, BTW.

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