- Notes on the Free Upgrade from Windows 7/8.1/10130 to Windows 10
- Determine your Windows 10 Edition when your Windows 7/8.1/10130/10 can Boot
- Downloading the Windows 10 TH2 .iso
- English File Sizes
- Create a Bootable USB Flash Drive
- Microsoft Product Activation Check
- Windows 10 Clean Installation
- Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro
- Updating to Windows Insider RS1 (optional)
OEM or Retail
The (major) OEM license is the most common Windows License type. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. A major OEM such as Dell, HP, Lenovo will sell a Device with Windows preinstalled, this Windows license will be tied to the systems motherboard and be non-transferable. Support for both the hardware and the software will come from the OEM and not from Microsoft (although occasionally one may need to phone Microsoft for Product Activation Support). The license is designed to be non-transferable as an OEM can only support their own hardware.
There is a subset of OEM licenses that are sold separately from a Device known as System Builder licenses. These are designed for small OEMs to preinstall on Devices and Sell to an End User. These minor OEM Systems Builder Licenses are not intended for an End User and a System shouldn’t have more than one OEM license according to the license agreement. e.g. a Windows 10 Pro minor System Builder OEM license isn’t valid for a Dell XPS 8900 which comes preinstalled with Windows 10 Home. See OEM License for Personal Use for more Details. Minor OEM System Builder Licenses are relatively rare and are only briefly mentioned in this guide.
The Retail License is a more expensive license because support for the license comes direct from Microsoft to the End User. Technically one should also be able to transfer a Retail License but may need to call Microsoft Support to do this.
Notes on Editions and the Free Upgrade from Windows 7/8.1/10 to Windows 10 TH2
Unlike TH1 the Initial Free Upgrade to Windows 10 was “Upgrade Only” now we have the ability to directly Clean Install Windows 10 TH2 using the following licenses.
These notes are in great detail because there are multiple common issues and a couple of major bugs with the Windows 10 TH2 Media Creation Tool which will result in product activation issues.
Note Windows 10 TH2 is also called Windows 10 1511 (Build 10586). The free Upgrade to Windows 10 using a Windows 7 OEM or Windows 8.x OEM license is known as Digital Entitlement. The Device remains OEM with the Product Activation forever tied to the motherboard. Retail Full and Retail Upgrade licenses also have Digital Entitlement but the licenses become OEM like tied to a Device. In theory Microsoft Phone Activation can be used to transfer Retail licenses but there are mixed reports when end users contact Microsoft Phone Activation regarding transferring the Windows 10 Digital Entitlement Upgrade. Due to the difficulties with Microsoft Phone Activation support, this guide assumes that Digital Entitlement of a Retail License makes the Device the Retail license is installed on OEM like and the license is therefore non-transferable.
It gets a bit complicated due to the various licensing types and Editions which I will now explain in more detail.
Windows 10 TH2 is available as a Free Upgrade for all Windows 7 OEM and Windows 8.1 OEM licenses
TH2 installation media will automatically input and accept Windows 8 OEM, Windows 8.1 OEM and Windows 10 OEM Product Keys automatically activating and registering the systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server when online making the system a Windows 10 Device.
- Note this only applies to major OEM keys i.e. systems sold by Dell, HP, Lenovo which have UEFI BIOS Embedded System Locked Preinstallation Keys. For Minor System Builder OEM keys the product keys are still on a printed label (see the notes regarding Windows 7 OEM).
- TH2 installation media will accept Windows 7 OEM Product Keys automatically activating and registering the systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server when online making the system a Windows 10 Device.
- Systems with Faded Windows 7 COAs require either Windows 10 TH1 or TH2 initially installed as an Upgrade via the Windows 7 Desktop and not a direct clean install via UEFI BIOS. Upon the initial Upgrade the systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server when online making the system a Windows 10 Device.
Windows 10 TH2 is also available as a Free Upgrade for Windows 7 Retail and Windows 8.1 Retail licenses
- TH2 installation media will accept Windows 7 Full Retail and Windows 8.1 Full Retail Product Keys automatically activating and registering the systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server when online making the system a Windows 10 Device.
- TH2 installation media will accept Windows 7 Upgrade Only Retail and Windows 8 Upgrade Only Retail Product Keys automatically activating and registering the systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server when online making the system a Windows 10 Device.
- Retail Upgrade Only Product Keys for Windows 7 and Windows 8 are hence no longer Upgrade Only and act in an identical manner as Full Product Keys allowing for Direct Clean Installation with Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media. With Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media the concept of “Upgrade Only” requiring a double, triple or worse install is abolished to a thing of the past.
What Edition of Windows 10 TH2 will I get?
The Edition of Windows 10 you will get corresponds to your old Edition of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. See the table below (click TH2 Upgrade Table to view extended details in pdf format).
More information is given below on OEM licenses, product keys and Microsoft nomenclature which is confusing upon the first encounter.
Version = Product Family e.g. Windows 7 Product Family, Windows 8 Product Family, Windows 8.1 Product Family or Windows 10 Product Family.
Edition = Subset of the Windows 10 Product Family. The Windows 10 Product family contains 5 OEM Editions:
- Windows 10 Home
- Windows 10 Pro
- Windows 10 Home Single Language (Designed to prevent cheap exports)*
- Windows 10 Home N (Rare European Commission Edition without Media Player)**
- Windows 10 Pro N (Rare European Commission Edition without Media Player)**
And 4 Volume License Editions:
- Windows 10 Education***
- Windows 10 Enterprise***
- Windows 10 Education N (Rare European Commission Edition without Media Player)
- Windows 10 Enterprise N (Rare European Commission Edition without Media Player)
From now on I will denote “Edition” in quotes as meaning either of these depending on your specific license.
* Designed to prevent cheap exports from the likes of China where the device and license may be cheaper. Customers in the UK for instance are unlikely to want to purchase a Windows 10 Device that has Windows 10 Home Single Language Chinese installed. Ironically one can clean install “Windows 10 Single Language” using the Single Language .iso of their choice to Change Language.
** The “N” Editions are rare pointless Editions enforced by the European Commission to exclude media player so try these only if the regular .isos don’t work. N Edition keys are not interchangeable with normal Editions. The UK has now thankfully left the EU so hopefully EC enforced annoyances will be a thing of the past.
*** Volume license Editions for large corporations. The Education Edition being cheaper for use at the likes of Libraries, Schools and Universities. This guide does not cover Enterprise or Education Volume Licensing and there is no free upgrade for these Editions.
Architecture = 64 Bit or 32 Bit and 64 Bit is recommended in all cases especially with a UEFI BIOS and SecureBoot. Theres not much hardware sold with a Windows 7 OEM or later license that doesn’t support 64 Bit Windows which is now the industry standard. Use only 32 Bit when you have a legacy application (and in that case a Virtual Machine is recommended). There is no discrimination between licenses, 64 and 32 Bit installation media will treat keys from Windows licenses in the same manner.
Windows 8 OEM, Windows 8.1 OEM and Windows 10 OEM Product Keys
(A) For Windows 8/8.1/10 OEM the Windows 10 TH2 installation media will automatically input your UEFI BIOS Embedded System Locked Preinstallation Key during installation provided you have the correct Edition selected.
(B) If you are installing the wrong Edition you will be asked for a key….
To indicate whether a system is shipped with a UEFI BIOS embedded System Locked Preinstallation key “Windows” stickers are affixed to the system. These stickers appear to change colour in accordance to the angle you look at them. Unfortunately Microsoft didn’t uniquely identifying the 5 different Editions of OEM licenses (previously 7 Editions of Windows 8.1 OEM licenses excluding RT). The main issue is that the stickers are identical for a Windows 10 Single Language and Windows 10 Home license causing much end user confusion. There are 5 Editions of Windows 10 OEM and 3 .isos with the Windows 10 TH2 .iso incorporating both Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro Editions and the Windows 10 N TH2 .iso incorporating both the Windows 10 Home N and Windows 10 Pro Editions. So in summary there is a two way split over the stickers Home or Pro but an unrelated 3 way split over the installation .isos Normal, Single Language and N. In my opinion Microsoft could do better…
If you skip the product key you will install the wrong Edition and experience Microsoft Product Activation issues… As a rule of thumb if your system cannot boot and you cannot determine your preinstalled Edition follow the steps:
- Try to boot with the Windows 10 TH2 .iso (containing the Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro Edition). If you are taken to the license agreement screen you have the correct Edition (A).
- If you are asked for a product key (B), abort installation and repeat with the Windows 10 Single Language TH2 .iso. If you are taken to the license agreement screen (A) you have the correct Edition.
- If you are asked for a product key (B), abort installation and repeat with the Windows 10 N TH2 .iso (containing the Windows 10 Home N and Windows 10 Pro N Edition). If you are taken to the license agreement screen (A) you have the correct Edition.
- If neither of the 3 .isos work you don’t have a UEFI BIOS Embedded SLP key (B).
Looking at the 2 Windows 10 and the 3 Windows 8 OEM stickers. The following can be said about each sticker:
- A Device with Windows 10 Home OEM or Windows 10 Home Single Language OEM preinstalled. Unfortunately Microsoft don’t distinguish between these Editions. A Device with Windows 10 Home N OEM may have the same sticker but I have never seen a Device with this Edition preinstalled.
- A Device with Windows 8 (Home) OEM, Windows 8.1 (Home) OEM preinstalled. These Devices have Digital Entitlement to Windows 10 Home. Alternatively a Device with Windows 8 (Home) Single Language OEM or Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language OEM preinstalled. These Devices have Digital Entitlement to Windows 10 Home Single Language. Unfortunately Microsoft don’t distinguish between these Editions. A Device with Windows 8 (Home) N OEM or Windows 8.1 (Home) N OEM with Digital Entitlement to Windows 10 Home N may have the same sticker but I have never seen a Device with this Edition preinstalled.
- A Device with Windows 8.1 (Home) with Bing OEM preinstalled which has Digital Entitlement to Windows 10 Home. Alternatively a Device with Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language with Bing OEM preinstalled which has Digital Entitlement to Windows 10 Home Single Language. Unfortunately Microsoft don’t distinguish between these Editions.
- A Device with Windows 10 Pro OEM preinstalled. A Device with Windows 10 Pro N OEM may have the same sticker but I have never seen a Device with this Edition preinstalled.
- A Device with Windows 8 Pro OEM, Windows 8.1 Pro OEM preinstalled. These Devices have Digital Entitlement to Windows 10 Pro. A Device with Windows 8 Pro N OEM or Windows 8.1 Pro N OEM with Digital Entitlement to Windows 10 Pro N may have the same sticker but I have never seen a Device with this Edition preinstalled.
Windows 10 Home Editions:
- Windows 10 Home Most Common
- Windows 10 Single Language Common
- Windows 10 Home N Rare
Note for Windows 10
- Windows 8.1 (Home) with Bing = Windows 8.1 (Home)
- Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language with Bing = Windows 8.1 Single Language (Home)
Windows 10 Pro Editions:
- Windows 10 Pro Most Common
- Windows 10 ProN Rare
Although you shouldn’t need your UEFI BIOS Embedded OEM SLP key as it should be automatically input during installation. You may also use the Windows Product Key Tool or RWEverything to obtain your UEFI BIOS Embedded SLP Key from your MSDM tab:
These utilities give the findings from the MSDM table if you have a UEFI BIOS embedded SLP key. The Windows Product Key Tool directly gives you your key from the MSDM table whereas RWEverything requires you to launch ACPI tables and then open the MSDM tab.
No MSDM table = No UEFI BIOS Embedded OEM SLP Key:
Windows 7 OEM Product Keys
For Windows 7 you will need to input the 25 digit product key on the Code of Authenticity (COA) which should be affixed to your system.
To prevent the COA from fading the COA is likely residing in the battery compartment of Laptops and inside the computer cover of Desktops. Use your smartphone to take a picture of it before installation.
During installation of Windows 10 “Edition” your systems hardware profile is registered with a Microsoft Product Activation server and is classified as a Windows 10 “Edition” Device.
Once a Device is a Windows 10 “Edition” Device there is no need to input the product key during installation and I don’t have a Product Key can be selected for convenience. If the correct “Edition” of Windows 10 is selected Windows will reobtain your Windows 10 “Edition” Device activation status from the Microsoft Product Activation server automatically activating your Windows 10 “Edition” Device.
Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 using the Media Creation Tool does not require input of the Windows 7 OEM key and also registers your systems hardware as a Windows 10 “Edition” Device. If you have a faded COA the Initial Upgrade is the only way of making your Device a Windows 10 Device.
Windows 10 Device
Its worth clarifying what exactly a Windows 10 Device is. Your Desktop, Tablet, Laptop or hybrid PC is a device. The device incorporates a motherboard and additional components such as CPU, RAM, Graphics Card and Hard Drive. Although all these additional components and others (e.g. wireless card) can be changed it is still regarded as the same device. The change of a motherboard turns your PC into a new Device. Windows 10 product Activation is Device Based.
Windows 10 Device – A Device that has Windows 10 previously installed and activated. Any Device Upgraded from a Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10130 Version to Windows 10 Version with the correct corresponding edition will automatically activate online and its hardware profile will be submitted and registered with a Microsoft Product Activation server. The Device will now forever be classified as a Windows 10 Device. There are thus 5 different types of Windows 10 Devices corresponding to the” Edition”:
- Windows 10 Home Device – A Device which had Windows 10 Home previously installed, registered its Hardware Profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and Activated.
- Windows 10 Home N Device – A Device which had Windows 10 Home N previously installed, registered its Hardware Profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and Activated.
- Windows 10 Home Single Language Device – A Device which had Windows 10 Home Single Language previously installed, registered its Hardware Profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and Activated.
- Windows 10 Pro Device – A Device which had Windows 10 Pro previously installed, registered its Hardware Profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and Activated.
- Windows 10 Pro N Device – A Device which had Windows 10 Pro N previously installed, registered its Hardware Profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and Activated.
Technically you can buy multiple Windows licenses for the same Device. One Device for example may be classified as both a Windows 10 Home Device and a Windows 10 Pro Device.
Windows 10 Insider Build 10130 Free Upgrades
Gabe Aul the Windows Insider Blog representative of Microsoft previously promised the Free Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for all Windows Insiders however then revoked the comment resulting in a lot of confusion (and bad advice). Despite the confusion the Free Upgrade from a technical viewpoint gave Digital Entitlement to Windows 10 Pro from all Devices that were upgraded via the Windows Insider Preview Build 10130.
In other words these systems are all Windows 10 Pro Devices and one may Clean Install Windows 10 Pro by skipping any product key during installation. The Device will automatically reactivate when online.
Gabe Aul also later stated you needed to use a Microsoft Account and had to indefinitely remain a Windows Insider forever in order to keep the Windows 10 Pro License but in testing this was also proved to be untrue.
I will note that many MVPs are debating whether or not you are licensed correctly under this scheme and Microsoft are leaving this area deliberately grey. I will leave it up to the reader to determine whether they want to follow the advice of Windows Licensing Nazi’s who suggest you pull out your wallet and buy a Full Windows 10 License or to take my technical perspective which is the system’s hardware profile was registered with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and was made a Windows 10 Pro Device. I will add a few additional notes reinforcing the technical perspective:
- The premature Removal of the Windows 7 Digital River installation .isos (February 2015) before Windows 10 TH1 Build 10240 (July 2015) meant those who used the Windows Insider Preview were stuck on Windows 10 Pro i.e. their system registered with a Microsoft Product Activation Server and became a Windows 10 Pro Device and not a Windows 10 Home Device. However TH2 itself will allow Windows Insiders who Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium to take their free upgrade to Windows 10 Home opposed to Windows 10 Pro should they wish.
- Removal of the Product Activation of Windows 10 Pro Devices Upgraded via Windows Insider 10130 would extremely inconvenience users with valid Windows 7 OEM licenses and faded Windows 7 COAs.
- Users who used Insider Build 10130 to upgrade from Windows Vista or Windows XP (with capable hardware) are extremely unlikely to pay full retail price for Windows 10 as the hardware is ageing and the value of the Device is less than that of the Full Retail license in many cases. I personally suggest that Microsoft allow all these users to install Windows 10. These users can evaluate how well Windows 10 runs on their device and Microsoft should make the license extremely cheap if the hardware is weak but capable i.e. if the hardware is of the age between 2007-2010 the license should cost no more than $20. This will help with the eradication of Windows Vista and reduce Windows XP usage.
- Because of 1. and 2 and particularly the combination of both 1. and 2… Microsoft are extremely unlikely to stop the continued use of Windows 10 Pro on Devices that have became Windows 10 Pro Devices via the Upgrade from Windows 10130 Insider Preview.
- My guide extends this Unofficial Upgrade Path past the expiry date with some additional subtle tricks.
For this Free Upgrade you will not have a product key (unless your system had an additional Windows 7/8.x OEM/Retail license). After the upgrade from 10130 to 10240 (TH1) Pro or 10586 (TH2) Pro your system is classified as a Windows 10 Pro Device and registered with a Microsoft Product Activation Server meaning you can simply select I don’t have a product key and then opt to install the Pro Edition and your system will automatically reactivate when online.
Microsoft put the 2 Editions Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro on the same installation .iso… Due to the fact that the installation media will automatically pick up the UEFI BIOS Embedded SLP product key those with a Windows 8.1 (Home) OEM license will automatically Clean Install Windows 10 Home instead of Windows 10 Pro. i.e. you will automatically be correctly licensed for your base OEM license. However one may change from Windows Home to Windows 10 Pro post installation by right clicking the Start Button and selecting change key. They may then change to this generic product key:
Devices which have already became Windows 10 Pro Devices from the Insider Preview 10130 or otherwise will automatically reactivate when the Edition is swapped to Pro using the Generic Pro Key. This is explained in more detail after the installation instructions.
Don’t Have Windows 7/Windows 8.1 – Buy Windows 10
If your hardware is Windows 10 capable you can buy Windows 10. One of the cheapest places to buy a Full license is Amazon available as a Bootable USB:
At this point you should access the relative worth of your systems hardware particular if your hard drive has failed.
Look to the deals Dell are having on their Desktops and Laptops.
If on a budget you might be able to buy a second hand system with a Windows 7 OEM license for a similar price as a new Windows 10 license and have better hardware to take the “Free" Upgrade to Windows 10. I recommend OptiPlex 780 Desktops with Windows 7 Pro OEM licenses as they are robust second hand Business Desktops and many are being sold second hand for a cheap price. If looking for a second hand laptop again look to second hand business laptops such as the Latitude E Series beginning with E5 or E6. Check to ensure that they have a Windows 7 OEM COA before buying.
You may also try the Unofficial Upgrade path via the Expired 10130 Insider Preview with a few additional workarounds.
Determining your Edition from System when Windows 7/8.1/10 Can Boot
Before opting to Download a Windows 10 TH2 .iso and making Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media you will need to determine your Windows Edition.
Right click the start button and select system:
If you don’t get this menu press [Windows] and [x] to see if you can bring it up (Windows 8) or left click start and then right click computer and select properties (Windows 7).
Check your Windows Version, Edition, Architecture and Ensure your Windows is Activated.
See the table in Notes on the Free Upgrade from Windows 7/8.1/10130 to Windows 10 and note the Edition of Windows 10 you need to Download.
In Windows 8.1 the Single Language Edition was paradoxically not tied to a Single Language and you could install Windows 8.1 using the “Single Language” .iso of your choice. You just couldn’t use Language packs after installation. Windows 10 should be the same but I don’t have a Single Language license to test with, if you have tested this leave a comment.
Some people have been asking about Language, in particular how to distinguish Windows 7/8.1/10 English UK Single Language from Windows 7/8.1/10 English US Single Language. The easiest way to distinguish if you are using proper English is to right click a blank area on the Desktop. If the context menu has personalise spelt correctly with a “s" you are fortunate enough to have English UK installed. On the other hand if it says personalize and is spelt incorrectly with a “z" you have the misfortune of having English US installed.
Check List Before Installing Windows 10
- Its recommended to have all your Data backed up to an external hard drive and/or cloud storage.
Its recommended to also have an image of your previous Operating System in case you feel the need to revert.
- If your base operating system is a preinstalled Dell Factory image you will want to update Dell Backup and Recovery to the latest version. Then make a Bootable USB. This Bootable USB will enable you to restore to Factory Settings. See Dell Backup and Recovery Basics.
- I also recommend making an Acronis Image which will work on a non-Dell. The Acronis Image will make an image of your current Windows version before the Windows 10 TH2 Upgrade. See Acronis Basics.
- I also recommend updating your UEFI BIOS to the latest revision and seeing if your BIOS supports UEFI and SecureBoot. See Updating your (UEFI) BIOS and Optimal Settings for Windows 10 TH2. If your system supports UEFI and SecureBoot and these technologies are not currently not enabled. Do not enable them until you have the Bootable USB and are about to begin Windows installation.
Downloading Windows 10 .iso
The Windows 10 Media Creation Tool is a .exe and will only run within Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. It has been updated to version 10.0.10586.35 (TH2 with a minor Update).
It is available here:
The direct link to the Windows 10 TH2 Media Creation Tool here:
If you are running an older version of Windows to initiate the Download specifically Windows XP and Windows Vista or Linux or even an Apple OS you will need to use the direct Download Links. For details see:
- Download Windows 10 TH2 OEM and Retail .iso and Prepare a Bootable USB on Linux
- Windows XP/Vista → Windows 10 (The Unofficial 10130 Free Upgrade Path)
It is recommended to run the Windows 10 TH2 Media Creation Tool where supported as it reduces the chances of installation errors due to an incomplete .iso i.e. the tool checks if the files downloaded are okay.
For the Academic Education Editions:
The direct link for the Academic Education Editions:
Note the Academic Education installer requires entry of the product key and does not allow selection of Language or Architecture… if you wish to change these you will need to use Jan Krohn’s Windows .iso Downloader Tool to get a direct Download Link from Microsoft’s Techbench.
Scroll down until you get to Download Tool Now. The Windows 10 TH2 Media Creation Tool is 18,014 KB in size.
Launch the tool and accept the user account control.
Then accept the License Agreement screen:
Select Create Installation Media for Another PC.
Do not select Upgrade Now
The Windows 10 TH2 Media Creation Tool offers three “Editions” of Windows 10 TH2. However its badly worded… 2 of the .isos offered by the tool actually themselves are actually “Multiple Editions”, the third .iso is a Single Edition.
- The Windows 10 .iso (Windows 10 Home Edition and Windows 10 Pro Edition). If a key is available in the UEFI BIOS or input the correct Edition of the two will automatically be selected (unless the key is not for either Edition). If no key is input and you opt to skip inputting a product key you will be given the option to select between the two Editions available on this .iso during installation:
- Windows 10N .iso (Windows 10 HomeN Edition and Windows 10 ProN Edition). If a key is available in the UEFI BIOS or input the correct Edition of the two will automatically be selected (unless the key is not for either Edition). If no key is input and you opt to skip inputting a product key you will be given the option to select between the two Editions available on this .iso during installation:
- Windows 10 Home Single Language .iso (Windows 10 Home Single Language Edition).
In my experience helping End Users with Windows installation the Windows 10 Home OEM and Windows 10 Home Single Language OEM licenses are the most confused as end users have trouble distinguishing between them and the differences between these are not clearly labelled on the Device nor marketed when the Device is sold. Thus it would have made more sense for them to make a Windows 10 Home .iso containing all the Home Editions i.e. Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Home Single Language and Windows 10 Home N and a second .iso containing all the Pro Editions i.e Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 ProN. I had hoped they could make a 5 Edition .iso which covers all supported OEM and Retail licenses but perhaps this installation .iso was never made as it was deemed too large.
In the next page Microsoft will have automatically selected your Language, Edition and Architecture corresponding to the version of Windows you have currently installed and its eligible free Windows 10 Upgrade.
For English installs (particularly Windows 7) its recommended to check whether the Tool is recommending English (US) or English (UK) and switching to English (UK) if you are offered English (US) and want English (UK) or vice versa.
Now you may select these in accordance to your own preference if it is for installation on another PC.
You may select 64 Bit or 32 Bit architecture or an .iso that contains both, 64 Bit is recommended in almost all cases:
When ready select Next.
Although the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool can create a FAT32 Bootable USB Flash Drive directly I prefer to download the .iso file and save it to an external hard drive. This way it is easy to remake a bootable USB should something go wrong when attempting to create the first one for instance files not copying across completely:
Select your location for the download e.g. in my case a Software Folder called Microsoft. Name your .iso accordingly and select Save:
It will take a while to download:
When done select Finish:
Ignore the message about burning the .iso to a DVD. DVDs are obsolete and a USB flash drive should be used. Its faster to make the USB, install Windows from the USB and also a FAT32 formated USB is accepted by a UEFI BIOS with SecureBoot. A DVD may be rejected in many cases.
English File Sizes
Sizes are listed for the 10.0.10586 and not the newer 10.0.10586.35 .isos… to be updated.
The English 64 Bit UK .isos I downloaded were the following size:
- Windows 10 x64 3,202,688 KB
- Windows 10N x64 3,016,192 KB
- Windows 10 Single Language x64 3,163,968 KB
The English 32 Bit UK .isos I downloaded were the following size:
- Windows 10 x86 2,499,968 KB
- Windows 10N x86 2,347,776 KB
- Windows 10 Single Language x86 2,476,800 KB
The English 64 Bit US .isos I downloaded were the following size:
- Windows 10 x64 3,198,720 KB
- Windows 10N x64 3,009,600 KB
- Windows 10 Single Language x64 3,198,720 KB
The English 32 Bit US .isos I downloaded were the following size:
- Windows 10 x86 2,514,624 KB
- Windows 10N x86 2,343,808 KB
- Windows 10 Single Language x86 2,486,656 KB
As you can see the size appears to be different for Languages and Editions.
Creating a Bootable USB Flash Drive:
You may use Rufus to create a bootable USB:
Rufus does not need to be installed and can be run directly by double clicking on the application.
Select your 8 GB or superior USB flash drive:
Select the .iso:
There are two types of bootable USB you can make with Rufus The “GPT partition scheme for UEFI computer" or the “MBR Partition Scheme for BIOS or UEFI Computers". If you are unsure what one to select see the information in Updating your BIOS and Determining if you have UEFI and SecureBoot. Its recommended to have the latest BIOS update before Windows 10 installation anyway.
Globally Unique Identifier Partition Table (GPT) Partition Scheme for UEFI Computer
Use with Dell hardware and Windows 10 64 Bit with a UEFI BIOS later than 2012. Enable UEFI and SecureBoot.
Requires systems that have a Unified Extensive Firmware Interface (UEFI) Basic Input Output (BIOS) and also 64 Bit Windows. These requirements are in general standard across hardware post 2012 i.e. hardware Dell shipped with Windows 8 or later.
This is a new partition scheme which is more reliable than the MBR partition scheme. In GPT multiple copies of partitioning and boot data are stored on the hard drive and checks they are consistent.
This partition scheme has the advantage in the fact that it can support >2 TB drives and can create up to 128 Partitions.
This will support newer security technologies such in the UEFI BIOS such as SecureBoot and these should be enabled.
2010-2011 hardware may or may not have a UEFI BIOS and you will need to check and enable the settings in the UEFI BIOS setup if applicable. These settings will also need to applied correctly for systems that have previously been running Windows 7 (e.g. downgrade rights).
Master Boot Record Partition Scheme for BIOS or UEFI Computer
Use with Dell hardware and Windows 8.1 with a Legacy BIOS earlier than 2010.
This can be used for an older system pre-2012 with a legacy Basic Input Output System (BIOS) so is required for pre-2012 hardware and for Windows 8.1 32 Bit.
Limited to 2 TB of space and to 4 partitions.
This partition scheme is less reliable as the partitioning and boot data is stored in one location meaning if its corrupt then the data is lost.
If you do not select the USB Device, then load the .iso and then select the Partition Scheme and File System in order, Rufus may revert some of the settings to defaults which may be incorrect.
Select the “GPT partition scheme for UEFI computer" or the “MBR Partition Scheme for BIOS or UEFI Computers" respectively depending if your hardware is post 2012 or pre 2012.
Select the FAT32 file system. SecureBoot requires the bootable USB to be formatted as FAT32 otherwise it won’t boot.
Select OK to format the USB flash drive:
Rufus will now create the Bootable USB:
When its ready it’ll say “Done" to the bottom left. You may now close Rufus and have a bootable USB for installation.
You can use this Bootable USB now to perform a Clean Installation.
Booting from Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media
Power down your computer. Disconnect any external hard drive(s) and any USB peripherals such as printers/scanners.
It is recommended to install Windows 10 in a UEFI BIOS with SecureBoot enabled.
If your system has a UEFI BIOS with SecureBoot now is the time to enable these technologies see Enabling UEFI and SecureBoot (it is assumed you have the made the USB to accommodate UEFI and the GPT partition scheme from above instructions).
If your system doesn’t have these technologies (it is assumed you have made the USB to accommodate a Legacy BIOS using the MBR partition scheme from above instructions).
Ensure the mouse and keyboard are connected. Insert the Windows 10 Bootable USB that you made via the Windows 10 .iso (If installing in UEFI make sure the Bootable USB is setup for UEFI).
Hold F12 while powering up your computer (at the Dell BIOS screen).
Follow the instructions below to Boot either via UEFI or Legacy respectively.
Variant A: UEFI Boot
If your system is newer than 2011 its recommended to use a UEFI Boot and a GPT partition scheme; this is faster and more reliable. The boot manager should mention a UEFI Boot similar to below.
Press the ↓ arrow and select your Windows 10 Recovery USB Flash Drive and press [Enter]
Variant B: Legacy Boot
For systems older than 2011 you will have to just use the legacy boot with the MBR partition scheme which will be listed by default. There will be no mention of Legacy or UEFI Boot but the boot option will be legacy.
If you wish to install Windows 10 32 Bit (unrecommended) on a 2012 or later system you will need to disable SecureBoot and enable legacy boot options.
Press the ↓ arrow and select your Windows 10 Recovery USB Flash Drive and press [Enter]
Select boot from from USB respectively.
Press any key when prompted such as “h" when it says Press any Key to boot from CD/DVD.
The Windows 10 TH2 Setup Part 1: Language Options
You will be presented with a black screen.
Select, Language (this is locked to the .iso you decided to Download), Time and Currency Format and Keyboard or Input Method. In this example I select proper English…
When you have made your selection select next:
Select Install Now:
The setup will start:
The Windows 10 TH2 Setup Part 2: The Product Key
There are 3 main different types of product keys:
- Windows 8.x/10 OEM (UEFI BIOS Embedded System Locked Preinstallation) Keys
- Windows 7 OEM product keys stamped onto a Windows 7 Code of Authenticity
- Windows 7/8.1/10 Retail Product Keys
- Keyless Installs – Faded Windows 7 OEM COA, Windows 10130 (Insider) or Trial/Evaluation
1. Windows 8.x/10 OEM (UEFI BIOS Embedded OEM SLP) Keys
A Windows 8.x/10 OEM key should be automatically picked up and input by the TH2 installation media and you should not see this screen.
Instead you should be taken straight here:
If you do see the first screen you have began the installation using the wrong Edition of Windows 10. Unfortunately Microsoft do not inform you if you have a product key for another Edition of Windows and do not tell you what Edition of Windows 10 the key is valid for. You should try all three .isos e.g. try the Windows 10 Single Language .iso and then the Windows 10N .iso (N Editions are rare) instead of the Windows 10 .iso. If all three .isos don’t work check to see if you have a MSDM table using Windows Product Key Finder (mentioned above), No MSDM table = No UEFI BIOS Embedded OEM Key.
Microsoft should let you know if you are installing the wrong Edition and give an error message like this but I guess this feedback hasn’t made it to the Windows team.
2. Windows 7 OEM Keys on COAs
Each Windows 7 OEM system was shipped with a COA which looked like the following. I’d advise taking a picture of it with your phone as I have done and keeping it for your own records. You can then open up the picture on your phone and have it beside you when you are installing Windows 10 on your system.
To the top of the COA is the Edition:
The Windows 10 Editions corresponding with Windows 7 product keys are:
- Windows 7 Starter → Windows 10 Home
- Windows 7 Home Basic → Windows 10 Home
- Windows 7 Home Premium → Windows 10 Home
- Windows 7 Professional → Windows 10 Pro
- Windows 7 Ultimate → Windows 10 Pro
There are also N Editions which are relatively rare but the Windows Insider Preview .iso doesn’t accept N Editions:
- Windows 7 StarterN → Windows 10 HomeN
- Windows 7 Home BasicN → Windows 10 HomeN
- Windows 7 Home PremiumN → Windows 10 HomeN
- Windows 7 ProfessionalN → Windows 10 ProN
- Windows 7 UltimateN → Windows 10 ProN
As Microsoft provided COAs with low print quality that were prone to fading. Good OEMs like Dell typically hid them in the battery compartments of laptops to shield them. Unfortunately they may not be shielded in early Windows 7 models and faded to the extent that the product key is illegible. See the notes about installing Windows 10 without a product key if you have a Faded COA.
Once you have input your product key you will be taken to the license agreement screen. If you input the product key for the wrong Edition of Windows the installation will abort:
3. Retail Product Keys
You will have your retail key on boxed installation media or from your confirmation email. As mentioned Retail Upgrade Only Product Keys will now act as Full Retail Product Keys so there is no longer any need to double or triple install.
The Windows 10 Editions corresponding with Windows 7 product keys are:
- Windows 7 Starter → Windows 10 Home (Windows 10 .iso)
- Windows 7 Home Basic → Windows 10 Home (Windows 10 .iso)
- Windows 7 Home Premium → Windows 10 Home (Windows 10 .iso)
- Windows 7 Professional → Windows 10 Pro (Windows 10 .iso)
- Windows 7 Ultimate → Windows 10 Pro (Windows 10 .iso)
The Windows 10 Editions corresponding with Windows 8.x product keys are:
- Windows 8.1 (Home) → Windows 10 Home (Windows 10 .iso)
- Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language → Windows 10 Home Single Language (Windows 10 Single Language .iso)
- Windows 8.1 Pro → Windows 10 Pro (Windows 10 .iso)
There are also N Editions which are relatively rare:
- Windows 7 StarterN → Windows 10 HomeN (Windows 10N .iso)
- Windows 7 Home BasicN → Windows 10 HomeN (Windows 10N .iso)
- Windows 7 Home PremiumN → Windows 10 HomeN (Windows 10N .iso)
- Windows 7 ProfessionalN → Windows 10 ProN (Windows 10N .iso)
- Windows 7 UltimateN → Windows 10 ProN (Windows 10N .iso)
- Windows 8.1N (Home) → Windows 10 HomeN (Windows 10N .iso)
- Windows 8.1 ProN → Windows 10 ProN (Windows 10N .iso)
Once you have input your product key you will be taken to the license agreement screen. If you input the product key for the wrong Edition of Windows the installation will abort:
4. Keyless Installs
Special notes for a system with a Faded Windows 7 COA
If you have a faded COA, you need to have Windows 7 previously installed using Dell OEM factory settings or using a Dell OEM Windows 7 Reinstallation DVD. These will apply Windows 7 OEM SLP activation. This was an activation mechanism that utilised a generic product key which activated if and only if a valid Dell (or other major OEM) BIOS was detected.
If your device already had a Mainstream Windows 10 Edition Build installed and activated it is already a Windows 10 Edition Device so you can proceed with the Clean Install of Windows 10 TH2 and skip the Product Key. Windows 10 TH2 will automatically reactivate online provided that you select the correct Edition.
If you have a Faded COA and your system has not been made a Windows 10 Device you should abort the Windows 10 Clean Install and load Windows 7 which is activated with the generic OEM SLP key. You should then open your Windows 7 Bootable USB and launch the setup.exe and proceed with an Upgrade install. For more details see Upgrading to Windows 10. Because Upgrade Installs are more likely to go sour ensure you have OEM Recovery Media. i.e. have made installation media using the Latest Version of Dell Backup and Recovery before attempting to Upgrade and an Acronis Backup see Acronis Basics.
If you have a Faded COA and your system has not been made a Windows 10 Device and your system can’t boot into Windows 7 then you really are in a pickle. I advise taking the Unofficial 10130 Upgrade path.
Special notes for those who took the Unofficial Windows 10130 Insider Preview Free Upgrade Path
Unless your system had an additional Windows 7/8.1 OEM license you will not have a product key. After the upgrade from 10130 to a Mainstream Windows 10 Pro Build your system is classified as a Windows 10 Pro Device.
If you want to just try Windows 10 TH2 to see how it works on your machine for a trial or are Reinstalling on a Windows 10 Edition Device select I don’t have a Product Key.
If you are using the Windows 10 .iso select the correct Edition Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro appropriately:
If you are using the Windows 10N .iso select the correct Edition Windows 10 Home N or Windows 10 Pro N appropriately:
If your system is a Windows 10 Home Device and you have selected Windows 10 Home it will automatically reactivate when online.
If your system is a Windows 10 Pro Device and you have selected Windows 10 Pro it will automatically reactivate when online.
If your system is a Windows 10N Home Device and you have selected Windows 10 HomeN it will automatically reactivate when online.
If your system is a Windows 10 ProN Device and you have selected Windows 10 ProN it will automatically reactivate when online.
If your system is not a Windows 10 Device you may use Windows 10 but you will be constantly nagged for product activation and some of the personalisation settings won’t work.
The Windows 10 TH2 Setup Part 3: Drive Options
Read the license agreement, check “I accept these terms" and then select next:
On the next screen you will be given the option to “Upgrade" or “Clean Reinstall".
To Clean Reinstall select Custom. The following steps will result in loss of data so cancel the installation and backup your data to an external hard drive or cloud storage if you haven’t already done so. I never recommend Upgrade installs.
In the next screen you should be shown your hard drive(s)/Solid state drive(s). If you don’t and have a blank screen as shown you will need to Load Driver… For more details see Preparing and Loading Preinstallation SATA Drivers.
Note: In most cases Windows 10 Installation Media should have the SATA Storage Controller inbuilt and hence there is no reason for you to load the preinstallation SATA driver. As a general rule of thumb if Windows Installation Media is significantly newer than your System the Storage Controller is inbuilt. Microsoft promise to keep Windows Installation Media relatively up to date so the need to load Storage Controller drivers should become relatively rare.
If on the other hand you get the error message “A Required CD/DVD Device Driver is Missing" then your Installation Media is corrupt and you should make new Windows 10 Installation Media.
In the majority of cases the HDD/SSD will already be listed… The partitions listed will differ from system to system aswell as the number of drive(s). In this step you want to delete all the partitions on the SSD/HDD (SSD recommended) that you want to Install Windows on so all the storage on the drive is unallocated space.
Note if you have previously used DiskPart or Cleaned up the SSD/HDDthe drive will already show as unallocated space. Cleaning up a HDD/SSD should be done in advance of Windows Installation and is particular important if you are Clean Reinstalling to get rid of a virus/malware infection or plan to sell or hand down your Windows 10 device.
If you have any other HDDs/SSDs that have an Operating System its recommended to delete all the partitions on these in a similar manner in order to prevent an unwanted dualboot.
Note external hard drives and USB flash drives may also be listed here which is why it was recommended to remove any unnecessary USB peripheral devices to save confusion. Data drives should be left alone aswell as the Windows 10 Bootable USB.
Dual Boot Note – Advanced Configurations only!!!
For a system with multiple SSD/HDDs multiple Drive numbers will show. You can only delete the partitions on the SSD/HDD (SSD recommended) that you intend to install Windows on.
If you have Windows/Linux installed on another drive this will make a Dual Boot. Alternatively you can delete all the partitions on other drive(s) in order to prevent an unwanted Dual Boot. I do not recommend Dual Booting and even less on the same Drive. In general I prefer virtualisation.
I will demonstrate a UEFI install on a 120 GB SSD in a Latitude E5510. This lists the single internal SSD as Drive 0. The drive had a Windows 7 Professional factory settings previously upgraded to Windows 10 Pro and was reverted back to Windows 7 Professional. It has two small partitions (UEFI) and the main OS partition aswell as the recovery partition.
Select each partition on the Drive you want to install Windows on, in this case Drive 0, then select Delete systematically. I will start on the Recovery Partition. Note theres no point in keeping the Recovery Partition (this will vary in size from system to system) while carrying out a Clean Reinstall as it’ll no longer function. Moreover even if it did work it’ll recover to an obsolete version of Windows.
Select ok. Then delete all the other partitions on the drive in a similar manner….
Your entire drive should now be unallocated space, select the unallocated space and then select new:
Windows will setup additional partitions and warn you that these are being created, select next:
If you have a newer system (>2012) and are using a UEFI BIOS with the GPT partition scheme, the partitions will look like the following. The top three partitions should be the same size as shown below and the presence of these multiple partitions make the GPT partition scheme more robust. The last largest partition will vary in size taking up the remainder SSD/HDD. Select this largest partition and select Next:
If you have a older system (<2012) or a newer system with UEFI settings disabled e.g. for a 32 Bit Windows 10 Installation you will hence have to use Legacy BIOS settings and the MBR partition scheme. The partitions will look slightly different on a MBR install see below. There will be a single 500 MB system reserved partition opposed to 3 smaller partitions in a GPT install. The last largest partition will vary in size taking up the remainder SSD/HDD. Select this largest partition and select Next:
Windows will begin to install and depending on your hardware may take some time to go through all the steps:
When its finished you will be warned about a restart. Select restart now or wait 10 seconds:
The Windows 10 TH2 Setup Part 4: Account and End of Setup
Your computer will restart and Windows will take some time to get your devices ready.
The setup will restart:
Note if you are going to sell or hand down your Windows 10 Device, you can force shut it down here and remove the Windows 10 Installation USB…. The new owner can continue with the setup.
If you are connected to an ethernet or offline the next few screens won’t show. Select your wireless network:
Input your wireless password and select next:
Select customise settings and press “next" once you’ve made your desired selection on each page or use the express settings:
Next select “I own it" for a home PC or “My organisation" for a work PC:
For “I Own It" sign in with a Microsoft Account (recommended by Microsoft so you can use all of Microsoft’s services in particular OneDrive).
Alternatively skip this step and sign in with a local account (recommended if you want to make a pseudo-Factory image with Dell Backup and Recovery without your Microsoft Account login details). A Local Account can later be converted to a Microsoft Account:
The PC will configure the last stages and install Apps (which now work as Windows):
You should now be in the Windows 10 Desktop:
Checking the New Edition of Windows 10 and Activation Status
Right click the Start button and select system:
Check your Windows Edition at the top and ensure that Windows is activated to the bottom. Note the Product ID may change slightly from the original install but Windows should be activated…
Press [Windows] and [ r ] and type in winver:
This will bring up the Windows 10 version 1511 (Build 10586). 1511 meaning November 2015.
Windows 10 Home → Windows 10 Pro
If you have a Windows 10 Home (Windows 8 Home, Windows 8.1 Home, Windows 8.1 Home with Bing or Windows 10 Home) compatible UEFI BIOS embedded SLP key then installation media will automatically input the UEFI BIOS embedded SLP key and proceed with the installation of Windows 10 Home. This will make your system a Windows 10 Home Device…
- If you have a Retail Windows 10 Pro key you can change the key directly. For a Retail Windows 7 Pro, Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 8.1 Pro key on the other hand you may need to use the generic key to change the Edition from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro. This key will allow change of Edition but not Product Activation. After the change of Edition you can use your Retail key to activate.
- The OEM System Builder license is designed for small Equipment Manufacturers to preinstall Windows on their hardware and sell to the End User as a complete unit and is not designed for End Users. Support for the device hardware and software as a whole is supposed to come from the system builder and for this reason it is cheaper than a retail license which has a higher cost due to the additional support from Microsoft. Many people unfortunately buy this license simply because its cheaper. If you have an OEM Systems Builder Windows 10 Pro Product Key technically you are not eligible to use this license as an End User even if you have Built your own system i.e. are a System Builder but of course there are grey areas here e.g. a company making their own system for in house use or if you make a system and sell/give to a family member… You shouldn’t use this license to upgrade a system with Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 pro either in other words a system shouldn’t have 2 OEM licenses. See Windows Licensing for Personal Use. Off the record you can use the generic product key to change Edition from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 pro and then activate with the Windows 10 Pro key.
- If you had initially made your system a Windows 10 Pro Device using the Windows Insider 10130 Preview you can simply use the generic product key to change Ediiton and the Device will automatically reactivate online.
For those who have made their system a Windows 10 Pro Device (e.g. by use of the Insider Build 10130) one will have to change the product key to the generic Pro product key. To do this right click start and select system:
Then select “Change Product Key”:
Accept the UAC prompt:
Input the following Windows 10 Pro generic product key:
Then select Start Upgrade:
Continue with the Pro install
When its done Windows will restart twice and configure the update:
You will now reach the Windows 10 Pro TH2 Desktop. Right click the Start button and select System:
Windows 10 Pro TH2 will automatically reactivate on a Windows 10 Pro Device e.g. if it came from the Insider Preview 10130 or if Windows 10 Pro was activated with a Retail Product key before.
If it hasn’t automatically reactivated then its because it was never initially made a Windows 10 Pro Device. To make your system a Windows 10 Pro Device you can use your Retail Windows 7 Pro, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8.x Pro or Windows 10 Pro key. Select Change Key and repeat the procedure with your Retail Product Key. Once it activates with one of these keys the system will become a Windows 10 Pro Device.