If you don’t know how to download Minecraft, that’s okay. Getting the correct game version and setting up an account is not so confusing now, 10 years after its initial release. There are two versions of Minecraft, now sold as a package and more comparable than ever. Unlike in the past, you can’t buy the wrong one; both versions of Minecraft are compatible with the Windows OS. However, one is specifically named Minecraft for Windows.
Currently, a Microsoft account is required to play Minecraft. Be prepared to use your existing account or create a new one that will handle all your Minecraft account information and additional microtransaction purchases.
Whether you are installing Minecraft yourself for the first time or your children, here is where to buy it and how to download the version that best suits your play style.
Minecraft costs $29.99 ($39.99, GBP 24.99) on a PC and includes both versions described below. It is important to note that you will not fail and purchase the wrong version of Minecraft, so rest assured, Minecraft is also included in the Xbox Game Pass, so there is no need to purchase it separately if you are a current subscriber.
Once you have purchased Minecraft, download the Minecraft Launcher and log in (or create) with your Microsoft account. This application can also launch all other Minecraft games purchased with the same Microsoft account (such as Minecraft Dungeons and the upcoming Minecraft Legends). The launcher will also download updates, so you don’t have to worry about doing it manually.
How to Download Minecraft on a PC
If you are new to Minecraft, the differences between the original Minecraft Java Edition and Minecraft for Windows (also known as Bedrock) are not obvious. The good news is that both are included in your purchase now. This means you don’t have to sweat the purchase; once you purchase Minecraft, you can always change which version you want to play when you need to. You can even have both installed.
When you open the Minecraft Launcher, you will see both “Minecraft: Java Edition” and “Minecraft for Windows” in the left sidebar. Click on the sidebar and the big green “Install” button to install either version. In either case, the launcher should install the latest version by default, regardless of any recent Minecraft updates that have been released.
There is a more detailed guide on Minecraft Java vs. Bedrock, but we will keep it brief here. I will preface these other distinctions. If you are downloading Minecraft for your child, installing the Windows version of Minecraft is best. If you plan on playing with friends in a version that allows cross-platform multiplayer, this is probably the version you are looking for.
It is Java for Minecraft
Despite the names of other versions, it also works on Windows.
It allows you to install previous versions of Minecraft or multiple installations. It is required for most of our favorite Minecraft mods.
Allows free installation of visual modifications created by other players, such as Minecraft texture packs or Minecraft skins.
Only available for multiplayer with other Java Edition players but is standard on many top Minecraft servers.
Minecraft for Windows (Bedrock)
Allows cross-platform multiplayer with console and mobile players.
Not compatible with Mac or Linux.
Access to the Minecraft Marketplace, where microtransactions for skins, textures, and custom maps are available. (For Parents. The Marketplace is paid, but unlike the Java, Edition’s free downloadable mods, Microsoft supervises it.)
It supports play with a keyboard, mouse, and game controller.
Once you have downloaded the version of Minecraft of your choice, you can press “Play” to start a new world offline or join a server to play multiplayer.