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How to upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1

Yes, you can upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1 while keeping your files and apps during the process, and here's how to do it.

Upgrade to Windows 11 from 8.1
  • To upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1, mount the ISO file, and launch the installer.
  • The installation will preserve your apps and files.
  • You DON’T need to upgrade to Windows 10 first since a direct path is supported.

Windows 8.1 computers can upgrade to Windows 11 without losing data or applications using the ISO file since it’s a supported installation path. However, before upgrading to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1, you must ensure that your laptop or desktop meets the minimum system requirements. For instance, the computer must have a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 and Secure Boot enabled, it must also have UEFI firmware, and the processor must be an Intel’s 8th Gen or newer or an AMD Zen 2 or newer.

Windows 11 is available as a free upgrade for Windows 10 computers, but you may still be able to activate it with a Windows 8.1 product key. Also, you will need to create a full backup in case something happens, and you need to roll back or recover files for any reason.

Furthermore, before installing the operating system, it’s recommended to uninstall any applications that may conflict with the upgrade to Windows 11, such as antivirus, security tools, and old third-party programs. To reduce the chances of running into problems, you should also disconnect any hardware connected to the computer, including printers, phones, cameras, external hard drives, and other USB peripherals.

This guide will teach you how to upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1. (See also this video tutorial showing the upgrade process on the Pureinfotech YouTube Channel.)

Upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1 using ISO file

The upgrade is non-destructive, but you can always run into problems. As a result, creating a full backup is a good idea, which you can use to roll back if anything unexpected happens. In addition to the system backup, you should also create a backup of your files to a cloud service (such as OneDrive) or external drive if you need to restore them manually.

To upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8.1 with an ISO file, use these steps:

  1. Download Windows 11 ISO file.

  2. Right-click the ISO file and select the Mount option.

    Windows 11 ISO mount on Windows 8.1

  3. Click on the mounted drive from the left navigation pane.

  4. Double-click the Setup file to begin the Windows 11 upgrade process.

    Launch Windows 11 setup

  5. (Optional) Click the Change how Windows Setup downloads updates option.

    Windows 11 setup update option

  6. Select the Not right now option.

    Disable updates during install

  7. Click the Next button.

  8. Click the Accept button to agree to the terms.

  9. Click the Install button to upgrade while keeping your files and apps.

    Windows 8.1 to 11 install

If you want to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows 11, click the Change what to keep option, select the Nothing option, click the Next button, and then click the Install button.

Once you complete the steps, the upgrade process from Windows 8.1 to 11 will preserve your files and apps. After the installation, you won’t need to complete the out-of-box experience (OOBE) to choose your privacy settings.

The Media Creation Tool has been updated for Windows 11, but it only works to create a bootable USB flash drive or ISO file. You can no longer use it to perform an in-place upgrade, which is why we are not listing those instructions. The Installation Assistant is only available for Windows 10 devices.

Windows 8.1 supports is set to end on January 10, 2023, which means that after this day, the operating system will no longer receive maintenance or security updates. As a result, it’s recommended to upgrade as soon as possible to maintain the device supported and secure.