So, you have bought a new laptop with Windows 11 installed. But it has an edition you don’t want to use: Home. You have done some things to try to upgrade it to Pro, and it’s not free. Here’s how to upgrade Windows 11 Home to Pro for free, if you have a digital license.
This post will talk about upgrading your Windows 11 edition for free legally, so you can get the most out of the operating system and work as usual with the features you usually used with the Pro edition, like the Bitlocker.
There are some challenges you might have already encountered while trying to upgrade your Windows 11 edition from Home to Pro. These include:
- It’s not free. You have to pay for the Pro edition from the Microsoft Store.
- You can’t choose Windows 11 Pro while doing a fresh install.
- You have installed the Windows 11 Pro, but you can’t activate it.
- You have a digital license for Windows 10 Pro and know you can upgrade to Windows 11 Pro for free, but you don’t know how to do it.
Those challenges can be solved by some tricks, and you can upgrade to Windows 11 Pro for free legally. But, you have to meet the requirement first.
What you’ll need
These are the things you need to upgrade Windows 11 Home to Windows 11 Pro for free:
- You have a digital license for Windows 10 Pro edition or previous Windows versions’ Pro edition that allows upgrading for free. Yes, this means your Windows 10 Pro on your old PC or laptop will be inactivated.
- You are willing to do a fresh install (reinstalling Windows) with the right Windows 11 edition, which is the Pro. You will lose your data, so back them up before doing so.
- ISO file for Windows 11. You can get it for free from the Microsoft website.
- Rufus, or any other equivalent software to make a bootable installation media.
- A stable Wi-Fi network to smoothen the installation process, as Windows 11 now wants you to sign in with your Microsoft account upon installation.
- A few hours of your time.
Now, let’s get to the process. For users who already are familiar with a digital license, skip to the how. For those who don’t, continue reading.
What is a Windows digital license?
A digital license is your Windows license that you have bought and tied to your Microsoft account. So, any device you sign your Microsoft account to will use your digital license to activate.
However, the activation process isn’t automatic and users have to do more effort to activate their devices. It’s also not easy when Microsoft doesn’t allow you to select which edition you would like to install.
How to upgrade Windows 11 Home to Windows 11 Pro
Download the ISO file for Windows 11
You can get the ISO file for Windows 11 by clicking the link below:
Select Windows 11 (multi-edition ISO) and click Download.
Select the appropriate language for the disk image. Select Confirm.
Click the download button to start downloading.
Tip: To ensure a smoother installation process and to avoid a corrupted ISO file, ensure your internet connection is stable.
Rufus is one of the most popular apps to make a bootable installation media for your flash drive or DVD. It’s a portable app and free. Download it from the link below:
Creating the bootable installation media
Now, plug in the flash drive or the DVD you want to use as the bootable installation media. The data inside it will be removed during the process as it requires the flash drive or DVD to be formatted.
Open Rufus. Select your device on the Device option. Select Disk or ISO Image. Click Select and browse for the ISO file you have downloaded previously.
You might be able to use the default configuration for creating the installation media. Now, click Start.
It takes a few minutes to make a bootable flash drive or DVD. Wait until it’s finished. Don’t unplug the flash drive or the DVD when it’s still in the process.
If Rufus says it’s complete, now you have to modify a file inside the flash drive or DVD to allow you to select the Pro version of Windows 11 during the installation process.
Force Windows 11 to allow you to select the edition during installation
The way to do this is by modifying the ei.cfg file on the installation media. Open the Notepad by typing it on the Run dialog box (Windows+R), then type these lines of code:
Save the file as ei.cfg. Ensure you select All Files on Save as type. Save it to your bootable flash drive > Sources folder.
Now, when you boot the drive, you’ll be able to select the Pro edition of Windows 11.
Install Windows 11 Pro
You can now simply do a clean install of Windows 11 Pro as usual. Ensure you have selected the bootable drive as the first priority for booting in the BIOS.
Plug the drive. Turn on your PC. Follow the instruction to install Windows 11 Pro.
Activate Windows 11 Pro using a digital license
Assuming you have completed the installation process and you have signed in to your Microsoft account with a digital license for Windows 11 Pro (or Windows 10 Pro), you can now activate it in simple steps.
First, go to the Settings app > System > Activation. You’ll see this if your Windows 11 Pro is not activated.
“We can’t activate Windows on this device because you don’t have a valid digital license or product key. If you think you do have a valid license or key, select Troubleshoot below. Error code: 0xC004C003.”
We will do what the error message suggests us to do, which is to click the Troubleshoot button. Click it. You’ll see this:
Select I changed hardware on this device recently.
You’ll see a list of devices using your digital license, specifically the Windows 11 Pro or Windows 10 Pro license. Checkmark This is the device I’m using right now on the device you want to compromise being inactivated. Select Activate.
Wait for a few seconds or minutes. You’ll see a message saying Windows is activated. We’ve activated this copy of Windows.
When you close, you will see that your new laptop or PC with Windows 11 Pro has been activated.
If you have a digital license for Windows 10 Pro, you can switch to a new laptop or PC with Windows 11 Pro for free. Although your old device will be inactivated, you can now enjoy the Pro edition and use features only the Pro edition have.