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Windows 10 is Microsoft’s newest operating system, released on July 29, 2015.
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:
Visit the Windows 10 download page on Microsoft’s website.
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 most users, Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro is the way to go for the Edition. The N editions are designed for some special European economic zones.
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.
You could also burn that ISO image to a USB device, but doing that using the software’s built-in tool (below) will be easier.
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, you’ll need to have a valid product key to install Windows 10. You can upgrade your version of Windows by providing a product key for a higher version.
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.
Follow the directions above for the ISO image up to the Choose which media to use the screen, 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 tap or click 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.
This is much easier than doing the ISO to USB part yourself.
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, such as a torrent site. However, 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.
One exception is the HeiDoc.net Windows ISO Downloader tool, which lets you get the official Windows 10 ISO download from Microsoft. The program doesn’t come from Microsoft but it does grab the ISO directly from Microsoft’s website (software-download.microsoft.com), so unlike a torrent site, it’s most likely safe and can be a good alternative if Microsoft’s tool (above) didn’t work for you.
The HeiDoc.net method can also be helpful if you’re interested in downloading an older version of Windows 10, such as a 2016 or 2017 version. You can pick any edition and language that you want.
Windows 10 Technical Preview
Prior to Windows 10’s public release, it was available as a Technical Preview, which was completely free and didn’t require that you own a previous version of Windows.
The Windows 10 Technical Preview program is over, meaning that you’ll need to have a previous version of Windows already to get it for free, or you’ll need to buy a new copy.
All Windows 10 Technical Preview installations used the product key of NKJFK-GPHP7-G8C3J-P6JXR-HQRJR, but this key is now blocked and will not be able to be used to activate Windows 10.