Where Can I Download Windows 10?
Unlike with previous versions of Windows, a legitimate copy of Windows 10 is available for download directly from Microsoft in ISO format.
Not only that, but the tool Microsoft provides for downloading Windows 10 lets you upgrade the computer you're on to Windows 10, prepare a flash drive with Windows 10 install files, or burn the Windows 10 setup files to a DVD disc.
Where Can I Download Windows 10?
There's only one completely legal and legitimate way to download Windows 10, and that's via Microsoft's official Windows 10 download page:
Select Download tool now.
Open MediaCreationTool<version>.exe when it's finished downloading.
The Media Creation Tool is very small, so it takes only a few seconds to download. However, you haven't downloaded Windows 10 just yet.
The Windows 10 installation wizard is pretty self-explanatory, so you should have no trouble deciding what to do next, but here's more help if you need it:
Download a Windows 10 ISO Image
You'll probably see a Getting a few things ready message when you first open the Windows 10 Setup program. When that screen clears, follow these steps in order:
Read through the license terms and then accept them with the Accept button.
Choose Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC and then select Next.
Choose the Language, Edition, and Architecture you want the ISO image for.
If you're going to be using Windows 10 on the same computer that's running Windows 10 Setup, you can use the default options that pertain to that specific computer. Otherwise, uncheck Use the recommended options for this PC, and then edit those options yourself.
For Architecture, choosing Both is probably the smartest way to go so that you can install Windows 10 on both a 32-bit or a 64-bit computer.
Choose Next when you're finished deciding.
Choose ISO file on the Choose which media to use screen, followed by Next.
Decide where to have the Windows 10 ISO image stored and then select Save to immediately start the download.
Once downloaded, you'll have a legal and full version of Windows 10 in ISO format. You can then burn that ISO image to a disc to install later or use it directly with your virtual machine software if you're going that route.
Buying Windows 10 is the only way to get a valid product key. Windows 10 Pro is available directly from Microsoft but Amazon sells copies, too. Windows 10 Home is the same deal: direct from Microsoft or via Amazon are best.
Download Windows 10 to a Flash Drive
If you'd rather skip the ISO part of the Windows 10 download and get those Windows 10 installation bits right onto a flash drive, that's easy to do with Microsoft's tool as well, much easier than doing the ISO to USB part yourself.
Follow the directions above for the ISO image up to the Choose which media to use the screen (Step 4), and this time, choose USB flash drive, followed by Next.
Choose a connected flash drive (that has more than 4 GB of storage) from the list on the next screen and then select Next.
If there isn't a device listed, attach a flash drive and select Refresh drive list.
Be sure to select the correct flash drive if you have multiples plugged in. Installing Windows 10 on the removable drive will erase all the existing files on that device.
Wait while the download is completed and then follow the rest of the instructions.
Don't Download Windows 10 From Another Website
Microsoft offers such an easy to use and legitimate source for Windows 10, so please don't download it elsewhere.
Yes, it might be tempting to download a hacked, "free" version of Windows 10 that advertises no need for a product key, but with the joy of using a Windows 10 download like that comes the very real risk of getting something you weren't expecting.
Technically, you could probably find a clean, original copy of the Window 10 ISO from another website but even then, you still need a valid product key in order to use the operating system, so risking the download anywhere but directly from Microsoft probably isn't worth it.
The free upgrade to Windows 10 (from Windows 8 or Windows 7) expired on July 29, 2016, and the free Windows 10 upgrade offer extension for users of assistive technologies ended December 31, 2017. So, theoretically, you'll need to have a valid product key to install Windows 10 (but technically, it might still upgrade without any issues). You can upgrade your version of Windows by providing a product key for a higher version.
Install Windows 10 updates from a USB drive
If you can't install major Windows 10 updates (such as the Creators Update) directly onto your PC - either because you don't have space for the large file, or because you're encountering errors in the installation process - then it's possible to install Windows 10 updates from a USB drive or from an SD memory card inserted into the card reader slot.
The process requires a little patience, but it isn't too difficult to follow.
As ever with major system updates, it's worth performing a full file and system backup first, just in case anything goes wrong with the installation process.
See our guide to creating a backup of your PC
Get the Windows Media Creation Tool
Download Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool (which downloads Windows 10) from Microsoft's website. Choose 32-bit or 64-bit, depending on your system.
Not sure if your system is 32-bit or 64-bit? No problem – see our guide on how to check your system properties.
Once downloaded, double-click the tool’s exe file. Tick Create installation media for another PC then Next.
Create a Windows 10 installation USB
You'll be asked whether you want to create a USB flash drive (you’ll need to insert one with 4GB or more free space) or an ISO file, which you can turn into an installation DVD. Choose the USB option (it's much more straightforward) and click Next.
Select your USB drive from the list and click Next. You’ll then need to wait while the Windows 10 update downloads, which can take a fair while, depending on your internet connection.
Start the Windows 10 upgrade
When finished, navigate to the USB drive and double-click setup.exe to begin the Windows 10 upgrade process. Follow all the on-screen prompts until you see a message saying Installing Windows 10.
As soon as your computer restarts, remove the USB drive then follow the remaining prompts to complete the installation.
Install Windows from a USB Flash Drive
Here's how to create a bootable Windows installation USB drive starting with a Windows .iso file or a Windows Setup DVD.
For new Windows 10 installations, we've got a tool that does this for you. See Download Windows 10.
What you need
- Windows 10 install .iso or DVD
- USB flash drive with at least 5GB free space. This drive will be formatted, so make sure it doesn't have any important files on it.
- Technician PC - Windows PC that you'll use to format the USB flash drive
- Destination PC - A PC that you'll install Windows on
Step 1 - Format the drive and set the primary partition as active
Connect the USB flash drive to your technician PC.
Open Disk Management: Right-click on Start and choose Disk Management.
Format the partition: Right-click the USB drive partition and choose Format. Select the FAT32 file system to be able to boot either BIOS-based or UEFI-based PCs.
Set the partition as active: Right-click the USB drive partition and click Mark Partition as Active.
If Mark Partition as Active isn't available, you can instead use diskpart to select the partition and mark it active.
Step 2 - Copy Windows Setup to the USB flash drive
Use File Explorer to copy and paste the entire contents of the Windows product DVD or ISO to the USB flash drive.
Optional: add an unattend file to automate the installation process. For more information, see Automate Windows Setup.
Step 3 - Install Windows to the new PC
Connect the USB flash drive to a new PC.
Turn on the PC and press the key that opens the boot-device selection menu for the computer, such as the Esc/F10/F12 keys. Select the option that boots the PC from the USB flash drive.
Windows Setup starts. Follow the instructions to install Windows.
Remove the USB flash drive.
Troubleshooting: file copy fails
This can happen when the Windows image file is over the FAT32 file size limit of 4GB. When this happens:
Copy everything except the Windows image file (sources\install.wim) to the USB drive (either drag and drop, or use this command, where D: is the mounted ISO and E: is the USB flash drive.)
Split the Windows image file into smaller files, and put the smaller files onto the USB drive:
Note, Windows Setup automatically installs from this file, so long as you name it install.swm.
Windows Setup Technical Reference