Windows 11 (OEM and Retail)

Downloading a Windows 11 ISO and Creating a UEFI Bootable USB Flash Drive and Clean Installing on a Dell PC


Windows 11 Elevated System Requirements

Windows 11 System Requirements are substantially elevated with respect to Windows 10 System Requirements. Microsoft have released an updated Windows 11 PC Check here:

The main requirement listed by the PC Check is the processor requirement:

  • An 8th Generation Intel Processor or Later (a limited selection of High End 7th Generation Intel Processors are also supported).
    • Microsoft have slightly backtracked on the Processor System Requirements for the Windows 11.
    • While they still recommend only Intel 8th Generation Processors and Higher. 6th and 7th Generation Intel Processors work and have all the additional Security Requirements outlined above and the WDDM 2.0 graphics driver requirement. However there is a warning in Settings stating that your Device may not perform as well as expected.
  • A UEFI BIOS with Secure Boot patched to address the Mid 2020 GRUB2 Security Exploit.
  • A Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Version 2.0 or Later.
  • 4 GB of DDR3 RAM or superior.
  • A 250 GB SSD Boot Drive or superior. Microsoft state HDDs are compatible but the slow access time of a HDD will result in a stalled system with continuous 100 % Disk Usage making it rather unusable with Windows 11.
  • A Windows Display Driver Model of 2.0 or Later.

Windows 11 Installation Media Downloads

Windows 11 Installation Media is available under a number of different test channels and each channel can have multiple version numbers and multiple builds corresponding to these version numbers. If in doubt always use the latest Mainstream Version Available.

The Mainstream Channel

The Mainstream Version is available with three options a Windows Upgrade Assistant, a Windows Media Creation Tool or a Direct ISO Download Link. The Upgrade Assistant is designed for an in place upgrade and the Media Creation Tool or Direct ISO Download Links can be used to create Installation Media for a Clean Installation. This guide only focuses on Clean Installation as it results in superior performance.

The Windows 11 Media Creation Tool can be used to generate an ISO or to alternatively directly create a Bootable USB. The Windows 11 Media Creation Tool ISO contains the most frequently used Windows 11 Editions sold on the OEM or Retail market such as Windows 11 Home, Windows 11 Home Single Language and Windows 11 Pro. This installation media will automatically input the 25 digit Windows 10 or Windows 11 OEM Product Key embedded in the systems motherboard during installation.

Note the installation media created by the Windows 11 Media Creation Tool lacks the more specialist Workstation Editions. For these Editions the Direct ISO Download Link must be used. Creating Installation Media from the Direct ISO Download Link takes a number of additional steps.

Installation media from the Media Creation Tool contains a <4.0 GB install.esd meaning Rufus can be used to create a UEFI Bootable USB with a single FAT32 partition (the upper file size limit of the FAT32 file system is 4.0 GB).

Installation media from the Direct Download Links instead contains a >4.0 GB install.wim. Because this is >4.0 GB additional steps are required to create a UEFI Bootable USB. The ISO with the install.wim is recommended in the cases where you have to slipstream the Dell driver pack into the installation media.

The Insider Preview Channels

Official ISO images of the Windows 11 Insider Preview can be Downloaded from:

Before using these downloads you should understand more about each Channel and the Build number.


There are four Windows 11 Channels:

  • The Dev Channel is recommended only for highly Technical Users and the Updates have not had time to be validated by Microsoft before release. Users should be prepared for bugs and instabilities.
  • The Beta Channel is recommended for Early Windows 11 Adopters and the Updates given to this Channel will be more reliable as they have been validated by Microsoft before release.
  • The Release Preview Channel is essentially the final Windows 11 Build released a couple of weeks for additional testing before it is rolled out to the Mainstream Channel.
  • The Mainstream Channel is the Final Channel designed for Mainstream Users and Business Environments. This should be used in the vast majority of cases.


Windows 11 Versions tend to be of the format YYHX. For example the latest Mainstream Channel Version is 21H2 where 21 is the Year 2021 and H2 is the second Half of the year. Multiple Windows 11 Insider Preview Builds are released in order to make a stable Windows Mainstream Version.


The build number increments numerically and the higher the number, the newer the build. Not every build will make it across to each channel.

UUP Dump Script (Unofficial)

Microsoft release each Windows Insider Build on the Windows Update Server however only a small subset of these are made into full Windows Installation ISOs.

The Windows Updates Unified Update Platform Dump (UUP) is a project (not affiliated with Microsoft) that essentially tracks the downloads being downloaded by each Windows Insider Build and compiles a download script which will download all the files that correspond to a Windows Insider Preview Build. The download script then uses Disk Image Servicing and Management (DISM) commands to slipstream all these updates into an install.wim file creating an up to date Windows Insider Preview installation image. The UUP then also downloads the rest of the files required to create installation media and builds an ISO from these files. This is a bit more advanced and covered in detail in my guide below:

The Windows 11 Media Creation Tool

Launch the Windows 11 Media Creation Tool and accept the User Account Control.

Accept the License Agreement:

Language and Edition

The Language will automatically be selected matching the current language of your Windows Installation.

Microsoft list the languages in the Media Creation Tool as English (UK) and English (US). English (UK) is also referred to as English International as it is used throughout the Commonwealth of Nations. To select another language uncheck "Use Recommended Options for this PC" which will enable the Language Dropdown box:

Select your Language and then select Next.

Using the Media Creation Tool to Create a UEFI Bootable USB

The Windows 11 Media Creation Tool can be used to directly creating a USB Flash Drive or alternatively it can be used to save the ISO file which can be used to create a Bootable USB using Rufus.

I tend to prefer to download the ISO file and create installation media from it as an additional step. This gives me access to the ISO file should I wish to mount it in a Virtual Machine for example:

The Windows 11 Media Creation Tool will Download the Windows 11 Setup Files, Verify the Windows 11 Setup Files and Create Installation Media from them:

Using the Media Creation Tool to Create an ISO

To save the ISO file, select ISO file (ignore any mentions of DVDs, no-one installs Windows 11 by DVD these days as the optical drive doesn't pass Secure Boot and most systems are shipped without one):

By default it will save automatically to Documents as Windows.iso.

You can change the location to Downloads and append the language and version number to the file name. e.g. Windows11_21H2_EnglishUK.iso:

The Windows 11 Media Creation Tool will Download the Windows 11 Setup Files, Verify the Windows 11 Setup Files and Create Installation Media from them:

Note that the installation ISO is created on your computer from the verified Windows setup files and therefore will have a unique time of creation and therefore unique ISO checksum. This means the checksum cannot be used for the purpose of file integrity checks.

Once again you can ignore the prompts to create a DVD as DVDs are obsolete.

Using Rufus to Create a UEFI Bootable USB from the Media Creation Tool ISO

You can create a Bootable USB from the Media Creation Tool ISO using Rufus:

Launch Rufus and accept the User Account Control Prompt:

To the top, select your USB Flash Drive from the dropdown list and then select Select to load your ISO:

Load your Windows 11 Media Creation Tool ISO and select Open:

The Partition Scheme and File System should be GPT and FAT32 (by default). You can optionally change your Volume Label to indicate the version of the installation media.

Select Start:

Select OK at the warning to format your USB Flash Drive:

When Rufus has completed creating the installation media it will say Ready:

Language and Edition

Select your Windows Version (the Build number will be listed for Windows Insider Preview Builds). When you select Download, the language options will be presented as a dropdown list.

Note Microsoft refer to English (US) as "English" and English (UK) as "English International". English (UK) is used throughout the Commonwealth of Nations.

Once you select Confirm a Download Link will be generated and be valid for a time period of 24 hours. Select 64-Bit Download to Download the ISO. For mainstream ISOs you can verify the ISO using the ISO Checksum. These are not currently made available for the Windows Insider Preview ISOs:

ISO Checksums (Mainstream Channel ISO Only)

The Windows 11 ISO Checksums can be checked by right clicking the Start Button and opening the Windows Terminal (Admin):

Accept the User Account Control Prompt:

Change the directory to downloads using:

cd Downloads

Where cd is an abbreviation for change directory (folder). To check the sha256 use the command:

certutil -hashfile Win11_EnglishInternational_x64v1.iso sha256

replacing Win11_EnglishInternational_x64v1.iso with the name of your iso file.

Creating a UEFI Bootable USB

The install.wim file on the direct ISO download links exceeds 4.0 GB which is the upper file size limit of the FAT32 File System which many systems require in order to list a Device as a Boot Entry when Secure Boot is Enabled. To make a UEFI Bootable USB we should first ensure that the USB uses the correct Partition Table GPT (opposed to the legacy MBR). The USB should be configured to have a FAT32 BOOT Partition and a NTFS INSTALL Partition used in order to pass Secure Boot and to contain the installation files respectively.

This can be done in Windows through use of the command line diskpart. Input:

list disk

You will be able to determine your USB flash drive by its capacity. In most cases the OS Boot Drive is Disk 0 and the USB it is Disk 1. If a * is shown under GPT then the Disk has a GPT Partition Table and does not need to be converted. If it has no * it is MBR and we will need to convert it to GPT:

Select your Disk by inputting:

select Disk 1

using the correct Disk number.

The following operations will remove all data on your USB Flash Drive.

To remove all old partitions input:


If the Disk was setup as MBR convert it to a MBR Disk to GPT using:

convert GPT

Next create a 1.0 GB Partition and a Partition spanning the rest of the capacity of the USB Flash Drive using:

create partition primary size=1024
create partition primary
list partition

Format the first 1.0 GB partition as FAT32 and assign it the volume label BOOT and Drive letter H:/ using:

select Partition 1
format fs=FAT32 quick label="BOOT"
assign letter=H:

Format the second partition as NTFS and assign it the volume label INSTALL and Drive letter I:/ using:

select Partition 2
format fs=NTFS quick label="INSTALL"
assign letter=I:

Right click the ISO and select Mount to Mount it as a Virtual Drive that can be explored within Windows Explorer:

Copy all the files/folders from the Windows 11 Installation ISO to the BOOT Partition except for the sources folder.

In its place create your own sources folder:

Copy the boot.wim from the sources folder of the installation ISO to the sources folder of your BOOT partition:

The Boot Partition is now ready:

Copy all the files/folders from the Windows 11 Installation ISO to the INSTALL Partition.

Wait for the files to copy across (it may take a few minutes for the large install.wim to copy fully across):

Your Windows 11 UEFI Bootable USB is now ready:

Slipstreaming the Dell Driver Pack (Optional)

Dell provide a Driver Pack for Dell Business Models (OptiPlex, Latitude, XPS). This driver pack can optionally be slipstreamed into the install.wim which will result in Windows 11 having preinstalled Dell System Drivers. This is only required if your hardware is bleeding edge and Microsoft don't have basic Device Drivers included already in the Operating System (which is very rare nowadays) and only recommended if you want to save time when deploying a Windows 11 Image to a fleet of Matching Computers found for example in a school library or office. Use this updated install.wim in place of the install.wim found in the sources folder of your INSTALL Partition:

Dell UEFI BIOS Settings for Windows 11

Entering the Dell UEFI BIOS Setup

Insert your Windows 11 Bootable USB. To enter the Dell UEFI BIOS Setup, Power Up your Dell and press [F2]:

System Information

Expand General to the left hand side and highlight System Information:

In the following screen you should observe your system date of manufacture. Systems deemed Windows 11 compatible by Microsoft are manufactured in Mid 2018 or later for example my OptiPlex 7060 is manufactured in Mid 2018. The processor type is also listed, in this case an i7-8700T meaning it is an 8th Generation Intel Processor.

In contrast my OptiPlex 7040 is manufactured in Late 2015 and has a i5-6500 meaning it is a 6th Generation Intel Processor. This system is deemed incompatible by Microsoft but runs the Windows 11 Insider Preview without an issue. Any system older than this will likely not perform well enough to run Windows 11.

In this screen you also get the BIOS Version/Date. You should check for the latest UEFI BIOS Update from Dell on your systems drivers and downloads page. The release date of the BIOS Version can be seen on Dells Website and must be newer than Mid 2020 in order to have a patched Secure Boot. The Latest BIOS Update can be copied over to a FAT32 formatted USB Flash Drive and Updated using the Dell UEFI BIOS Boot Menu before Windows 11 Installation.

The system information will also give details about the drive in your system, alongside the Video and Audio controller:


Under System Configuration, select SATA Operation. Makes sure it is set to AHCI which is the setting used when each Drive in the system acts as an independent drive:

Selecting Drives to the left hand side will give you details about your Drives. Windows 11 essentially won't run well unless you are using a single large capacity SSD of 250 GB or superior. In my case I have swapped for a lower capacity SSD for this test installation. This drive will fit Windows 11 on it and a handful of Apps but not too much else:

Boot Options

To the left hand side select Advanced Boot Options and make sure Legacy Option ROMS and Legacy Boot Settings are Disabled:

Select Boot Sequence and uncheck your Windows 11 Bootable USB:

Select Delete Boot Option to Delete all Old Boot Entries:

Now only your Windows 11 Bootable USB should display:

Security Settings

Windows 11 requires Secure Boot to be Enabled:

The Secure Boot Mode should be Deployed Mode:

Windows 11 also requires the TPM 2.0 Security to be On and Enabled:

Dell Data Wipe

We can use the Dell Data Wipe Setting to Securely Erase all Internal SSDs. Select Dell Data Wipe and then Wipe on the Next Boot:

Select OK at the warning:

Select No at the Warning:

Apply Settings

Once you have Applied your UEFI BIOS Settings, select Apply:

Then select OK:

Then select Exit:

Dell Data Wipe

The Computer will reboot and the Dell Data Wipe routine will be initated:

Select Continue:

Select Erase:

The internal drives will be wiped which will take a few minutes for a SSD as all the data is wiped simultaneously and there is a fast access time on a SSD.

On a HDD, the data is sequentially wiped byte by byte, this combined with the HDD slow access time means the Data Wipe will take several hours and is essentially an overnight job. A HDD has too slow an access time to be used comfortably with Windows 11 and will lead to continuous 100 % Disk Usage making the system pretty much unusable. It should be swapped out for a SSD.

The progress bar will indicate the progress of the Data Wipe:

You will be informed when the Data Wipe is complete. Select OK:

Your system will reboot:

You will be informed that the Data Wipe was successful. Hold down the Power Button to turn off your PC:

Windows 11 Installation

Booting from the Windows 11 Bootable USB

Power up your Dell and press [F12] to get to the UEFI BIOS Boot Menu:

Ensure that the Boot Mode is set to UEFI and Secure Boot is ON. Select your Windows 11 Bootable USB:

You will see the Dell loading logo:

On the next screen you will be given language installation options. The defaults will match what you specified when using the UUP Dump website.

Select next:

Windows OEM Product Key

Select Install Now:

Windows 11 Installation Media will scan your systems for an embedded Microsoft Digital Marker (MSDM) which contains a 25 digit Windows Product Key.

If found you will be taken straight to the License Agreement screen:

The handful of 6th Generation Intel systems sold with Windows 7 Pro used OEM Downgrade Rights meaning they all have a Windows 8.1 Pro OEM or Windows 10 Pro OEM Embedded Product Key. Therefore all Dell compatible systems should have came with an embedded Product Key.

All systems that came with a Windows 7 OEM License with a printed Code of Authenticity have a Processor older than a 6th Generation Intel Processor and are therefore incompatible with Windows 11 as they are below the minimum system requirements. This Product Key might be accepted by Windows 11 Installation Media but it doesn't really matter because the Device is incompatible.

Drive Options

Select Custom Install:

Select your SSD Boot Drive which should be listed as Unallocated Space following the Data Wipe and select Next:

Installing Windows

The Windows 11 Installation Files will be copied to your OS Boot Drive and prepared for Windows Installation:

You computer will reboot:

You will then see a Dell Logo with a spinner stating Getting Ready:

Windows Out of the Box (OOBE) Setup

The Windows OOBE setup screens will now load:

You will see the Windows logo:

You will be asked for your region:

Then be asked to select your keyboard layout:

Then be given the option to select an additional keyboard layout:

Then be prompted to connect to a Wireless Network. Select your network and then select Connect:

Input your Wi-Fi password and select Next:

Once connected select Next:

The Windows Setup will then check for Updates:

You will then be prompted to input your Computers Name which was an option Microsoft missed in the Windows 10 Setup. Input your computers name and select Next:

The Windows Setup will load for a moment and take you to User Account Creation:

Note Microsoft are pushing harder for Microsoft Account Enforcement. A Local Account is now a Pro only Feature however a Local Account can be forced on a Home Install by not connecting to the internet. It is useful to use a Microsoft Account for the Windows 11 Insider Preview to enrol in the Windows 11 Insider Preview and to leave Feedback to Microsoft using the Feedback App.

Select Set up for Personal Use:

Then input your email and select Next:

Input your Password and select Sign In:

Select Create Pin:

Input and confirm your Pin and select OK:

You now will have the option to copy Settings and Preferences from an Existing Device or to Setup the Computer as a New Device with unique Settings and Preferences:

If you plan to use Apps etc you'll need to enable the Location Settings:

For a laptop, tablet or mobile Device you may want to Enable the Setting to Find your Device. This is typically not necessary for a Desktop:

It is recommended to Include Optional diagnostic data:

You can optionally share your keysrokes with Microsoft to improve inking and typing:

I would recommend selecting the option to receive tailored diagnostic responses from Microsoft and this will mean you will receive tips relevant to your specific device and problems you specifically encounter:

You can optionally share an Advertising ID across Applications. This will be associated with the Microsoft Edge Browser if the default Bing Search Engine is used and Microsoft Store Apps and in essence will help Microsoft maximise their advertising profit from you:

In the next screen you will get the option to customize your experience. The personalised tips and recommendations you'll receive will be dependent on the options you selected for example Family Safety Tips if Family is selected.

In Windows 10 Microsoft forcefully preinstalled unwanted Games on Business Machines with Pro Licenses such as Candy Crush. This does not seem to happen on Windows 11 if only Business is selected. Perhaps you will only get these preinstalled Games and Advertisements if you select Gaming as an option:

You can then optionally integrate your User Profile with OneDrive which is recommended only if you are using Office 365 with a One Drive subscription:

The Windows 11 Setup will check for Updates:

Then it will take you to the final loading screens where it sets up your User Account in the background:

You will now reach the Windows 11 Desktop and the Windows 11 is now Installed:

Dell Command Update

Right click the Start Button to get to the Power User Menu and select Device Manager:

All the System Drivers are installed because the Dell Driver Pack was slipstreamed into the Windows Installation Media:

We can use Dell Command Update to search for any additional drivers or firmware updates.

Download Dell Command Update and launch it:

Accept the Windows 11 User Account Control:

Then select install:

Then select Next:

Next Accept the License Agreement and select Next:

It is recommended to Participate in the Improvement Program. Select Next:

Select Install:

Select Finish:

Then select Close:

Now right click the Start Button to open the Power Users Menu and select Sign Out or Shutdown and then select Restart:

Launch Dell Command Update from the Start Menu. Dell Command Update can be found in All Apps:

The Dell Command Update Splash Screen will display:

Select Yes, run automatically with default settings and then OK:

If you have not slipstreamed the driver package into your Windows 11 Installation Media, select Click here to Download and Install a Complete Driver Library:

Otherwise select Check:

Updates will be detected and listed, select Install:

Select Restart to apply any Updates and initiate any Firmware Updates:

My system has a UEFI BIOS Update which is now applied:

When finished, the system will reboot.

All Dell System Drivers are now installed.


Right click the Start Button and select Settings:

Scroll down and select About:

You will see your Device Specifications and Windows Specifications. The Windows Product ID ends in AAOEM indicating that it is an OEM License:

You can check your Product Activation:

Windows Update

To the left hand side, select Windows Update and select Download Now to Download the latest Windows Updates:

Select Restart to Finish installing the Updates:

Windows Insider Channel

Right click the Start Button and select Settings:

Select Windows Update and then Windows Insider Programme:

Select Get Started:

Select Edit:

Select your Microsoft Account:

Then select Beta Channel:

Select Continue:

Restart your Computer to Apply the Changes:

You are now enrolled in the Beta Channel.

Feedback Application

You can launch the Feedback App from the Start Menu:

Ensure that you are signed in with your Microsoft Account:

Select your Microsoft Account:

Select OK:

You can optionally view user submitted Feedback and official announcements as well as Reporting a Problem or Suggesting a Feature:

Emoji Panel and Paste Clipboard

Press [⊞] + [.] to open up the emoji panel:

The emoji panel is a useful addition that contains animated GIFs, emoji symbols and currency, mathematical symbols and Greek characters. Unfortunately the search feature of it is crippled and gives only animated GIFs instead of the far more commonly used symbols:

One has to manually scroll through to language symbols to get the Greek characters:

Personally as a scientist, I would prefer the symbols which I frequently use to be more accessible at expense of the animated GIFs which I never use.

Press [⊞] + [v] to open up the Paste Clipboard. Select Turn On to allow Copying and Pasting of multiple items:


If you have an Office 365 subscription, Office can be downloaded and installed from:

Alternatively if you want a Free Office Suite with high compatibility to Microsoft Office and a similar ribbon interface to Microsoft Office, you can install Only Office:

Note Only Office takes a long time to load upon its first launch however it loads up relatively speedy on subsequent launches.

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