What just happened? When Microsoft released Windows 11, acquiring it involved either upgrading from Windows 10 or buying a pre-built PC. Recently, Windows 11 licenses mysteriously appeared on the Microsoft Store, making the OS installation a little easier for new custom builds.

Microsoft started selling Windows 11 licenses on its store within the last few weeks without telling anyone. Windows 11 Home and Pro versions cost the same as Windows 10 licenses, but this can remove a step for many users looking to quickly install Windows 11.

PCMag only discovered the Windows 11 store pages recently, but it's estimated this happened sometime in May. Windows 11 Home and Pro digital licenses cost $139 and $199, respectively.

The new store listings primarily help users who build PCs, need to buy a new license, and want to immediately install Windows 11. The main methods of installing Microsoft's latest operating system are to either upgrade from within Windows 10 or buy a PC that includes Windows 11.

DIY builders can also create a Windows 11 boot drive or boot disc, but activating it usually involved an older Windows license or key until now. More advanced users can also download a Windows 11 ISO.

Per Microsoft's FAQ, Windows 11 is a free upgrade for Windows 10 PCs that are running the most current version of the operating system, and meet the minimum hardware specifications. That latter part was met with a ton of controversy, although there are ways to skip over TPM requirements.

Microsoft hasn't said anything about its new Windows 11 installation option, and it isn't clear why. Perhaps it's better business for the company to sell Windows 11 packaged in new PCs.