Microsoft Releases Physical Copies of Windows 11

Posted on May 9, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Windows, Windows 11 with 28 Comments

Microsoft has now released physical copies of Windows 11, a little more than six months after the release of the OS. Twitter user Luke Blevins spotted the retail copies of Windows 11 Home and Windows 11 Pro on Best Buy’s website yesterday (via OnMSFT), and the $140 and $200 prices match those for the digital licenses available to purchase on the Microsoft Store.

Inside the retail boxes, customers will find a USB Flash Drive with installation media and an activation key for either Windows 11 Home or Pro. Of course, if you already have a valid Windows 10 license on your PC, you can upgrade to Windows 11 for free. You can also create your own installation media on your own by downloading the official ISOs from Microsoft’s website.

However, these Windows 11 USB Flash drives are for people who need a valid Windows 11 license and an easy way to install the OS without going through Windows Update or the other manual ways to install the OS using the Internet. It’s probably a small audience, but Microsoft has been selling physical copies of Windows for years and there’s no reason to make an exception for Windows 11.

If you’re interested in purchasing a physical copy of Windows 11, you need to make sure that your PC actually supports it. The minimum system requirements remain one of the most controversial aspects of the OS, with Microsoft having left many recent PCs on the sidelines. While it’s still possible to install Windows 11 on unsupported PCs, Microsoft doesn’t guarantee that these devices will continue to receive updates in the long run.

Back in January, Microsoft’s Chief Hardware Officer Panos Panay said that the company was seeing “strong demand and preference for Windows 11 with people accepting the upgrade offer to Windows 11 at twice the rate we saw for Windows 10.” The exec also claimed that Windows 11 had “the highest quality scores and product satisfaction of any version of Windows we’ve ever shipped.” However, Windows 11 adoption seems to have stalled in AdDuplex’s latest surveys.

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Microsoft Releases Physical Copies of Windows 11”

  1. navarac

    Curious, I wonder what Build is on the discs for the shocking price of $200? Must a gold plated USB Key.

  2. ernie

    . . . scratching my head . . . why waste the resources?

    • hrlngrv

      US$140 for Home, US$200 for Pro. Probably costs less than US$2.00 to manufacture either, no more than another US$10 for shipping. Even if only half wind up sold . . .

      MSFT kinda likes $$$$.

  3. hrlngrv

    | ". . . with people accepting the upgrade offer to Windows 11 at twice the rate we saw for Windows 10.”

    Since hardly anyone bothered with Windows 8.x, that would have been lots of Windows 7 users slow to give up the Windows version they loved in order to skip the Windows version one could only hate to get the Windows version one would eventually have to accept.

    FWIW, StatCounter shows Windows 11 surging from 2.6% of all Windows versions in use at the end of January to 7.9% at the end of February, but crawling to 8.9% by the end of April. Amusing that StatCounter shows more systems still running Windows 7 than Windows 11 by the end of April.

  4. WaltC

    I can't advise that anyone buy this, and I'm surprised they've done this so soon. Because Win11 is simply not ready for prime time--I'm on an advanced build 22616.100, and Win11 has a long, long way to go. If you buy this to avoid installing through the Internet, you will definitely be using the Internet a lot to upgrade as the Win11 updates are coming regularly because the OS is not finished.

    I like Win11, thus far, but I'm using a very nice, well-updated program for my taskbar flexibility to at least equal what we had in Win10, because the standard taskbar in Win11 is butt-ugly, if you'll excuse my saying so, and it's anchored at the bottom of the screen permanently. If you want flexibility for your task bar, plus finer sizing control of the taskbar elements, and a start menu that is also very flexible-- buy StartAllBack for $5 if you want this degree of flexibility with your desktop--because Microsoft shows no inclination to fix it to at least equal the flexibility of the taskbar in Win10--which I think is fairly stupid. It's the #1 complaint by Insider's on the Hub, with thousands of complaints, and so far Microsoft has been content to ignore it.

    If Microsoft thinks people want a phone UI on their desktops, the company has gone bonkers...;) Shades of Win8...

    Software backwards compatibility with Win11 is excellent, and I have nothing that ran under 10 that won't run under 11, and 11 has some nice graphical features that originally were slated for Win10 when Microsoft decided to go to Win11, for some strange reason...;)

    Rather than buy the disk-based version of Win11, I would recommend you join the Insiders group. It's free, and you can get out whenever you want to. After you join the Insider's and kick the tires you'll know if you want to buy an early disk-based version. Win10 has two more years to go--a bit more, actually, so there's no hurry. By ignoring the Win11 desktop options as Microsoft is doing and keeping them subpar Win10 level, Microsoft is not in much of a hurray to have people adopting Win11 rapidly, imo.

  5. ebraiter

    Anyone believes what Panos commented about? People couldn't wait to get off Windows 8.x. I don't think it's the same for Windows 10. As for unsupported Windows 7, maybe.

    • dave78

      I regretted getting off 8.1. 10 looked nothing like the early dev builds

  6. dftf

    Unless you're really into Windows to collector-level, I struggle to see the need for this.

    Internet-speeds are ever-increasing, and it's easy to download an ISO image, or create a bootable USB storage-device, of Windows 11 to install from -- it's not like in the old-days when Microsoft wouldn't make ISOs available publicly (outside of enterprises or MSDN subscribers)! Or for any eligible PC currently running Windows 10 to just do an "over-the-top" upgrade -- which would also be free to do, of course!

  7. John Craig

    OK, I'll bite.... BUT WHY??

    Seriously though, why buy a physical disc? Just looking at this from an environmental perspective. Cardboard, paper, plastic, tonnes of pollutants expelled in the manufacturing and transportation process.

    Not to mention, the moment you run it, the first thing that's going to happen is a request to go online and download the latest updates, likely from the very site you could download the full version of W11 from in the first place.

    This looks and feels like an old school ego stroking project, something the Windows development team can hold on to, to prove they done a day's work.

    Does the box say "made by Panos" on the back?

    • Thretosix

      The physical disc or USB doesn't matter, it comes with a license. Not everyone has spare keys to use for fresh installs. I'm curious if the license works for a Windows 10 install, assuming a person wanted a license and didn't want to upgrade immediately or if they would just be better off buying a Windows 10 key and doing a free upgrade. I know new devices give you the option to choose which OS when setting it up, at least the ones I've dealt with.

    • mikegalos

      Because there are people who live in areas without acceptable Internet access or whose access is limited in total bytes per month.

    • ebraiter

      Ummm. You build your own computer? People still do that.

      • fiddle

        If you build your own PC, you can just download Windows 11, install it and then purchase a licence from the Microsoft Store to activate it. So even then it's not really necessary unless you can get the boxed version cheaper from somewhere.

      • dftf

        I'd imagine many people who build their own PCs likely have a spare or unused Windows 10 licence they could use, then upgrade that install for-free to Windows 11. Or an old 8.x or 7 licence they could upgrade to 10, and from that to 11.

    • dftf

      I'd suspect the reason for these is the same as the recent-years minor resurgence in vinyl-records: nostalgia. They think Windows 11 will seem more-special if you can own a physical version of it.

      But it's still pointless, overall: not-only as you mention, that the image on there will be out-of-date once installed, but also that any PC with Windows 10 right now that is eligible can install 11 for-free. Any PC which is not capable of running 11 still won't be able to if you purchase this, and for such people they will have to purchase a new PC, which will most-likely come with Windows 11 preinstalled on it.

      The only audience I could possibly see for this is "I have a PC that is of-spec right now, but I purchased it without Windows preinstalled ("no OS" or a Linux preinstall), so I have no upgrade-path" or "for some-reason, I really want a retail-version so I can deactivate 11 on my current PC and transfer the licence to a new device in future". The latter point might be useful for VMs, perhaps... but it would still be cheaper just to buy a digital-licence than a retail boxed-copy.

  8. dougi

    I’ve an irrational desire to purchase this as a memento. My last physical copy was XP.

  9. Greg Green

    For some reason I thought of my purchase of OS2 (Warp?). It came on 20 or more 3.5" disks.

  10. anoldamigauser

    But will they sell a Windows 11 on ARM license for those who want to run it on their Apple Silicon Macs?

  11. fishnet37222

    Cue the GIF of Ryan Reynolds saying "but why?".

  12. SherlockHolmes

    I think this maybe a hit. Or not.

  13. ikjadoon

    I bet these things move more mindshare & marketing $$ than actual sales $$. Another excuse to put large Microsoft / Windows branding inside most brick-and-mortar stores.

    You'd think, with that in mind, Panos would've fallen over silly when Windows 11 launched. Yet another symptom of a very-rushed launch.