Upgrade or Clean Install Windows 11 by creating a hybrid Installer. If the previous methods didn’t work for you (or you need to perform a clean install), use this method.
The requirements verification for Windows 11 is currently only built into the initial setup and a post-install program known as the Out of Box Experience (OOBE for short). The OOBE usually only runs on clean installs, so if you’re upgrading, you only need to worry about bypassing the initial verification.
And that initial bypass is actually pretty simple: use the Windows 10 installer to install the Windows 11 files. How? By creating a hybrid setup. Here’s how to do that.
Check your boot mode
- Open the Start Menu and type msinfo. The first result should be System Information. Open that.
- Once System Information opens, make sure System Summary is selected in the sidebar.
- In the right pane, look for the BIOS Mode item. Write down what it says.
Burn Windows 11 to a USB
Note: cybertechpros will not be sharing premade ISOs directly. Microsoft has been a little trigger-happy with DMCA takedowns when it comes to Windows 11. This guide assumes you’re using a USB drive to install Windows. If you plan on using a CD or DVD, you’ll need to directly modify an ISO.
- Download the latest Windows 11 Insider ISO available. Microsoft doesn’t currently have one available, but UUP Dump can create one for you. If UUP Dump isn’t working properly, there are plenty of premade ISOs available on sites like Reddit.
- Use a program like Rufus to burn the Windows 10 ISO to a USB drive. If your boot mode is Legacy, use an MBR partition scheme. If your boot mode is UEFI, use GPT.
Now you should have a USB installer for Windows 11 for your system.
Create a hybrid installer
- Download the latest Windows 10 Insider ISO available. You can get build 21354 directly from Microsoft with an Insider account, or you can use UUP Dump to create your own build 21390 ISO for your architecture.
- Once the Windows 10 ISO is burned, open the USB drive in the File Explorer. Navigate to the sources folder inside.
- Scroll down until you see either install.wim or install.esd. Note down the extension (wim or esd).
- Rename the file to something like install1.wim or install1.esd.
- Navigate to the Windows 11 ISO. Right click it, and choose Mount.
- After a few seconds, you’ll see a “DVD Drive” pop up in the File Explorer. Open that “drive” and navigate to the sources folder.
- Scroll down until you find either install.wim or install.esd. If the extension here matches what you noted before, you’re good to go. There’s a chance that your Windows 11 ISO will have an install.wim while your Windows 10 ISO will be using install.esd. Follow the section below if so.
- Copy the install file from the Windows 11 “DVD Drive” sources folder to the Windows 10 USB drive sources folder. Again, only do this step if you have matching extensions. Otherwise, you’ll need to convert the Windows 11 install file to the correct type first.
Now you should have an installer that thinks it’s for Windows 10, but will actually install Windows 11.
Converting WIM to ESD
- Copy the Windows 11 install.wim file to somewhere safe, like the desktop.
- Open a Command Prompt as an administrator. (Search for “CMD” in the Start Menu, right click “Command Prompt” and choose “Run as administrator”.)
- In the Command Prompt window, enter dism /Get-WimInfo /WimFile:C:\Path\To\install.wim. Change the path to where the WIM actually is. For example E:\Downloads\OSes\install.wim. If your path has spaces, enclose the entire path in double quotes.
- This will give you a list of editions contained in the WIM, each with its own index. Choose the edition you want and remember its index.
- Next, run dism /Export-Image /SourceImageFile:E:\Downloads\OSes\install.wim /SourceIndex:INDEX /DestinationImageFile:E:\Downloads\OSes\install.esd /Compress:recovery /CheckIntegrity. Remember to replace the SourceImageFile path with the actual path to your install.wim. Do the same for the DestinationImageFile path. Finally, replace INDEX with the index you chose above.
- That command will take a while (and use a lot of CPU), but eventually you’ll have an ESD that you can copy to your USB drive.
Option 1: Use the installer to upgrade to Windows 11
- Open the USB Drive in the File Explorer.
- Double-click the setup.exe file (there may not be a .exe extension shown depending on your settings).
- Windows will guide you through upgrading.
- Once the upgrade process is complete (it will take a while), you’ll have Windows 11 running.
Option 2: Use the installer to clean install Windows 11
- Boot from the USB drive.
- Go through the setup like you normally would.
- When the setup prompts you to reboot, let it.
- Windows will now boot into the initial post-install setup. It’s going to attempt to set up your computer, and may reboot a few times.
If the setup succeeds, you should now see the initial setup guide screen, and you’re good to go.
If the setup fails, you’ll need to do some extra steps.
- Reboot back to the USB drive setup.
- Once the Windows setup reaches the initial screen, press the Shift and F10 keys at the same time. This should open a Command Prompt window.
- Inside the Command Prompt, type in regedit and hit Enter. The Registry Editor should now open.
- Select HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE in the sidebar.
- Go to the File menu and select Load Hive….
- In the file picker window that opens, navigate to This PC and find your operating system drive. Note: it might not be the C: drive! Check the size and contents to make sure you have the right one. For this tutorial, the operating system drive will be the C: drive, so make sure you replace mentions of that if needed.
- Navigate to C:\Windows\System32\config.
- Double-click SYSTEM. When asked for a “Key Name” enter SYSTEM1 and press OK.
- Do the same process again, but this time load SOFTWARE and name it SOFTWARE1.
- Back in Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM1\Setup.
- Make sure the Data for CmdLine is blank (double-click, remove all text, hit OK).
- Make sure OOBEInProgress is set to 0.
- Make sure RestartSetup is set to 0.
- Make sure SetupPhase is set to 0.
- Make sure SetupType is set to 0.
- Make sure SystemSetupInProgress is set to 0.
- The end result should look similar to the following.
- Now navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE1\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\OOBE.
- Right-click in the right pane and choose New > DWORD. Name it SkipMachineOOBE and set the data to 1.
- Right-click in the right pane and choose New > DWORD. Name it SkipUserOOBE and set the data to 1.
- Close Registry Editor.
Create a user account
Since these steps disabled the initial post-install setup for Windows, you’ll need to create an initial user account manually. Here’s how to do that.
- In the Command Prompt window, enter copy C:\Windows\System32\Utilman.exe C:\, where C: is your operating system drive.
- Next, enter copy /y C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe C:\Windows\System32\Utilman.exe. This will replace the Utilman program with the Command Prompt.
- Reboot back into Windows. Enter wpeutil reboot in the Command Prompt window and let Windows boot up normally.
- On the login screen, your only option should be “Other User”.
- In the bottom right, click the Accessibility icon. A Command Prompt window should open.
- In the Command Prompt, enter net user /add USERNAME PASSWORD. Replace USERNAME and PASSWORD with your desired username and password.
- Next, enter net localgroup administrators USERNAME /add, where USERNAME is the username you chose in the step before.
- The user account won’t show up before you reboot.
- Reboot your computer and boot from the USB drive again.
- Press Shift and F10 again to open the command prompt again.
- Enter copy /y C:\Utilman.exe C:\Windows\System32\Utilman.exe to restore the original program.
- Reboot into Windows and you should now be able to log in and set things up. You can safely delete the Utilman.exe file from C:\ now.
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