Trying out Windows 11? How to Customize and Set Up Your Installation

Anyone interested in testing the next version of Windows before its official release on October 5 can download an Insiders Preview of Windows 11. However, installing the new operating system is only half the struggle. Following installation, you must navigate through a series of setup pages to modify and configure Windows 11 to your liking. These setup panels would also appear if you reset your PC to reinstall Windows 11 in the event of any problems.

The overall installation process is comparable to Windows 10, however there are a few differences. Here’s how to personalize Windows 11 throughout the installation process.

Initial Configuration

You must first download and install Microsoft’s Windows 11 ISO file. Then you install Windows 11 on a dedicated PC, a dual-boot system, or a virtual machine, depending on your preference. To install the OS, follow the on-screen instructions, after which the setup panels will appear. You’ll be prompted to choose a country or area, then a keyboard layout or input method. Confirm the right answers by selecting Yes.

country setup
language setup

The following popup asks if you wish to add another keyboard layout. If you wish to add another language with a different keyboard layout to Windows 11, go to Add layout and select the one you want. If not, click Skip.

keyboard setup

After that, Windows looks for any available updates. Accept the licensing agreement after reading it. After that, you’ll be prompted to name your Windows 11 PC, with Microsoft providing some guidelines and prerequisites. The name must not begin with a number or exceed 15 characters. There can’t be any spaces or special characters in it.

pc name

If you’re only going to install Windows 11 on one PC or in one location, use a generic name like Windows11 or Win11Preview. Give it a more unique name with the PC make or model if you’ll be installing it on several machines or locations, such as Win11LenovoT14 or Windows11HP. Click Next when you’ve finished typing your name.


Choose Account Kind

county type

The sort of account you want to use is then requested. If you’re installing Windows 11 on your own PC and plan to use it with a Microsoft account or a local account, select Set up for personal use. Select Set up for work or school if you’re installing Windows 11 on a PC for your company or school and intend to use it with your company or school account. Click Next once you’ve made your decision.

If you’re using this PC for personal purposes, you’ll need to provide your Microsoft account’s email address. A local account is no longer supported in Windows 11 Home (unless you use some major workarounds), but it will continue to work in Windows 11 Pro and other editions.


Set Up With a Microsoft Account

If you’re using a Microsoft account, sign in with the email address and password that came with it. If you don’t already have a Microsoft account, click Create One and follow the prompts.

microsoft account

After you’ve input your Microsoft account, you’ll be asked to generate a PIN as an alternative to using your Microsoft account to log into Windows. Then select Create PIN.

PIN

Select the checkbox next to If you wish to use your PIN for something other than numbers, include letters and symbols. (The page for PIN requirements has instructions for creating a PIN.) Click OK after typing and retyping your PIN.

PIN options

If your account has previously installed and configured Windows 11 on another PC, Microsoft will recognize you and prompt you whether you want to restore Windows from that PC or set it up as a new device. Choose Restore from [PC name] to copy the environment from another computer. Set up as new device if you want to keep your new Windows 11 environment fresh and distinct. After making your selection, click Next.

pc setup

The next screen prompts you to select your privacy preferences. Examine each option to see if you want to keep location and diagnostic data enabled or turn it off (click the Learn more link for details on these options). After you’ve decided which options to change, click Accept.

privacy settings

Then choose how you want to use Windows—entertainment, gaming, school, creativity, business, or family—to personalize your experience. The type of adverts and recommendations linked with your Microsoft account are determined by your selection. If desired, select a specific category; otherwise, select Skip.

customize experience

The next step is to decide if you want to backup your data to OneDrive. Select Back up my files with OneDrive to automatically back up and sync your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders to OneDrive. If not, select Don’t back up my files. Select Next.

onedrive backup

Set Up With an Enterprise or Faculty Account

The process jumps from the authentication screen to the privacy settings screen if you picked an account with your company or school. A box appears asking if you wish to use your account to set up Windows Hello. Click OK.

windows hello

You’ll be asked to create a PIN. Click OK after typing and retyping a PIN. After that, you can use any other Windows Hello function that is supported, such as fingerprint or face recognition.

PIN

Set Up With a Native Account

Click the Sign-in options link at the screen urging you to add your Microsoft account if you prefer to use a local account. On the following screen, select Offline account.

offline account

Windows goes to great lengths to persuade you to create a Microsoft account, even using convoluted jargon to convey what you’ll be missing out on if you don’t. To continue setting up a local account, click Skip for now.

microsoft account

After that, you’ll be asked to choose a username and create a password for your account. Ignore the prompts from Microsoft to create an online account.

name device

After that, Windows will ask you to establish security questions and answers for your local account. Select each security question and type your response. At each screen, select Next.

security questions

The next screen prompts you to select your privacy preferences. Select the options you want to change and then click Accept.

privacy settings

Finalize Setup

Windows 11 setup

Whether you choose a Microsoft account, a local account, or an account for work or school, the process will converge from here. Windows will look for and download any available updates. Microsoft will go over some of the new features in Windows 11 while this process is running.

Windows 11 sign in

When the update is complete, Windows will restart, welcome you to the new version of the operating system, and sign you in automatically. You’ll be prompted to type your password at the login page the next time you start or reboot your computer.


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