You can now buy a physical copy of Windows 11, because, why not?

Windows 11 logo in front of the new wallpapers
(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you've been looking for a physical edition of Windows 11 to use as a backup for those just-in-case scenarios, Microsoft has granted that wish.

Buying the retail version will give you a USB stick, where you can plug it into a PC with a previous version of Windows, and, as long as it passes the system requirements, will let you upgrade to Windows 11.

Nowadays, you can go to Microsoft's site, or Apple's Mac App Store, and download a version of Windows 11 or macOS if you needed to reset your device. But there are moments where accessing the internet to do this is next to impossible.

Downloading a large file over public internet could be a challenge, especially if you're far from home, which is where this could come in handy.

Analysis: No discs this time

Windows 11 USB Physical Install

(Image credit: Microsoft)

There was a time when you had to install Windows through a bunch of floppy disks, with Windows 95 coming with 13 floppies. Choosing the wrong floppy in the middle of the process could mean that you'd have to restart it all again.

However, when discs became the new standard for PCs, this was reduced to just one disk by the time Windows 98 arrived. As internet speeds became faster and more affordable, it was easier to download a disk image from Microsoft's website, as it would be constantly updated to include recent updates.

But devices aren't always certain to work in the way you intend them to, which is why purchasing a USB stick of Windows 11 is the next best thing.

With disk drives being all but phased out from PCs and laptops, having a bootable image on a USB stick can be a useful method to let you store it in a bag if you need to reinstall Windows while you're away from home.

Via XDA Developers

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.