By Annie Kim

Last Updated: September 27, 2021

62% of Windows Users Unaware of Windows 11 Release

Only 41 percent say they plan to install the new operating system; many users are confused about hardware requirements

It’s become part of Windows lore that every other version of the operating system released by Microsoft is bad. The popular XP, which spanned 2001 to 2005, was followed by the dreaded Vista, which lasted only a couple of years before giving way to Windows 7.

The newest operating system, Windows 11, is set to be formally released Oct 5. Since it’s coming on the heels of Windows 10, a success by most standards, will the latest OS be a bust or will it buck the trend?

Windows updates may not get the same fanfare of, say, a new iPhone or gaming platform, but the sheer reach of Windows means millions are likely to be affected by the new OS. Microsoft announced in June that Windows 11 would represent a major shift in functionality and the first name change since Windows 10 was launched in 2015. Anticipated features include a redesigned start menu and interface, the ability to run Android apps from a PC, and enhanced security features.

We wanted to gauge awareness and excitement for Windows 11, so we surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. Windows users on their upgrade plans.

Key Findings

  • Just under 40 percent of Windows users were aware Windows 11 was due to be released soon.
  • Forty-five percent of users aren’t sure whether they’ll install the new operating system when it becomes available to them even though it will be free to download.
  • Two in three users aren’t sure whether their computers will be able to handle the rigorous hardware requirements Microsoft has outlined for its new OS.

Awareness of New Windows OS Remains Low

Only 38 percent of current Windows users said they were aware a major change was coming to the operating system. In fact, two in three users didn’t know whether their computers had the necessary hardware to make the change , and 45 percent weren’t sure if they would download the update when it begins rolling out in early October.

Regardless of whether users are aware the change is coming, it stands to affect tens of millions of people around the world. Windows has long been the most dominant operating system in desktop computers by far. While Apple’s Mac operating system has gained ground, as of June 2021, Windows’ estimated global market share is about 73 percent.

Older Windows users were more likely to say they knew the update was coming. Only 28 percent of users between 18 and 24 were aware a new OS was on the way, compared to 56 percent of those over the age of 55.

Most Users on the Fence About Installing Update

Although a minority of users were even aware the update was coming before taking part in our study, around 41 percent of them said they’d install the upgrade when their turn comes.

Younger users were more likely than older ones to indicate they would update to Windows 11, while older users were more likely to be on the fence. Still, the most common response across most age groups was uncertainty. Overall, 45 percent of Windows users had not yet decided if they’d install the latest operating system onto their machines.

Windows 11 upgrade plans

Will upgrade 41%
Will not upgrade 14%
Unsure 45%

Android Apps, New Look & Gaming Boost Most Popular Windows 11 Features

Those who do decide to make the jump to Windows 11 will enjoy a host of new features: 38 percent of people said they weren’t sure which excited them most. Overall, the ability to run Android apps from a Windows computer was the most anticipated feature, followed by a new interface appearance and enhanced gaming capabilities. All three of those features garnered similar levels of excitement from users.

Most exciting Windows 11 features

Not sure 38%
Ability to run Android apps 14%
New appearance 13%
Game-boosting capabilities 13%
Additional security features 11%
Voice dictation with automatic punctuation 4%
Widgets 3%
Upgraded Windows app store 2%
Other 2%

Among features that were popular overall, the redesigned appearance and ability to run Android apps were most strongly correlated with users saying they’d be upgrading when the new OS is released. About 52 percent of users who said the new look was the feature they were most excited about indicated they’d be making the switch next month, while nearly half of those who were most excited about using Android apps on their computers plan to upgrade.

Android apps

About 14 percent of Windows users said the ability to run Android apps from their computer was the feature they are most excited about. This means users won’t have to switch between their phones and their PCs to explore social media or play in-app games, and the look and feel of the apps will be very similar across both devices. Additionally, this change could impact a large number of Americans: about 47 percent of U.S. smartphone users have Androids.

Updated interface

A new user interface is another popular feature coming with Windows 11. But if you’ve ever used a Mac device, Microsoft’s new OS will look pretty familiar. The Windows start button will move from the left side of the toolbar to the middle, and the overall feel of windows, menus, and buttons will lean toward Apple’s sleek style with rounded corners and soft shadows (take a look and some side-by-side comparisons here between Windows 10 and Windows 11).


Windows 11 will also add auto HDR and DirectStorage, features drawn from Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console. These features enable enhanced imaging (if allowed by the computer’s hardware) and faster game loading. Interestingly, those who use their PCs for gaming were among the least likely to say they plan to upgrade to Windows 11 (40 percent), though that may speak to hardware limitations and the often high cost of building a gaming rig.

Most Users Unsure About Hardware Requirements

Some of Windows 11’s most exciting new features come with hefty hardware requirements, including specific types of processors, RAM and storage, graphics cards, and, somewhat controversially, a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 security chip.

Graphics cards, RAM, and storage are all relatively simple to add to a computer, though they’re obviously not free. But experts have suggested that computers purchased before 2019 will likely not have the processor or TPM module capability Microsoft says is required for its “free" Windows 11 update (learn more about what hardware specs are required).

Microsoft has created an app that will let users know if they have the technical requirements to upgrade, but it’s still in development and beta testing. Two in three people in our research said they didn’t know whether their computers would be able to handle the upgrade from a hardware perspective, while five percent are certain their machines don’t have the hardware.


While Windows users have a lot to anticipate in a streamlined and easy-to-use new operating system, uncertainty about hardware is driving uncertainty about whether users will upgrade when Windows 11 rolls out.

Since the hardware requirements for Windows 11 may leave some users behind, adoption of Windows 11 may lag as people hang onto Windows 10 or upgrade their computers over time.

This is also likely to affect users’ excitement about certain features. After all, if your device doesn’t have the necessary processor to enhance your gaming experience, why get excited about a feature you can’t even use?


We surveyed 1,042 U.S. adults who use Windows as their main operating system. The survey took place online September 17, 2021.