Table of contents
- Downloading a Windows 10 Version ISO
- Creating a Bootable USB
- Clean Installation
- Booting From Windows 10 Installation Media
- Your Windows Product Key
- Windows 10 License Agreement
- Drive Options
- The Windows Setup
- Regional Settings
- Internet Connectivity
- User Account
- Privacy Settings
- Windows Update
- Product Activation
- Booting From Windows 10 Installation Media
- System Drivers
- Productivity Settings
- Chromium Edge
- Office 365
Downloading a Windows 10 Version ISO
Windows 10 is available to download through the Windows 10 Download Page and the Windows Insider Preview Pages. The Windows 10 Download Page defaults to the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool when ran on a Windows PC and reverts to Direct Download Links when ran on Linux. The Workstation Editions aren't covered in the Media Creation Tool. To get the Direct Download Links on a Windows PC, one can either switch their browser to mobile view or use the Windows ISO Download Tool which offers all Versions of Windows 10.
- Windows 10 Download Page (Version 1909)
- Insider Preview ISO (Version 2004)
- Windows ISO Download Tool (All Older Windows 10 Versions…)
Insider Preview Download Page
Windows 10 Version 2004 is available for Download as a Windows Insider Preview ISO. This Windows 10 Insider Preview will install the cumulative update KB4550936 which will take you to Build 19041.207 which Microsoft have already stated is the final build of Windows 10 Version 2004.
Windows ISO Download Tool (All Previous Versions)
The Windows ISO Download Tool can be used to Download all Previous Versions of Windows 10 or Insider Preview. The mainstream builds don't expire whereas the Insider Preview builds only remain activated within a time window. In most cases it is not recommended to remain on an older build however for those running really old computers, Version 1709 is the last build that will run on their computer due to elevated system requirements introduced in later versions.
Click to see English (UK and US) checksums.
Creating a Bootable USB
The Bootable USB cannot be created directly with Rufus as it has an install.wim file which exceeds 4 GB. As a result Rufus will use the NTFS file system which will be rejected by Secure Boot. We will instead use Rufus to setup a USB Flash Drive to use the GPT Partition Scheme and to be FAT32 Formatted and manually copy the Windows Installation files over with the install.wim being split between a install.swm and install2.swm file.
Double click Rufus:
And accept the User Account Control Prompt:
Select your Bootable USB, select Non-Bootable and call the Volume Label Win10-2004 (so you know what version of Windows the installation media is).
If your computer has a UEFI BIOS (all computers manufactured post 2012), select:
- GPT partition scheme
- BIOS or UEFI
Then select Start.
If your computer is older and has a Legacy BIOS change the selections in Blue to:
Then select Start.
Select OK to format your USB Flash Drive:
Rufus will say Ready when done. You may now close it:
Delete the two autorun files on the Bootable USB:
Select Yes at the dialogue.
Now right click the ISO and select Mount (Windows 7 doesn't have the ability to mount ISOs directly. if making the Bootable USB on Windows 7 you will need to install Virtual Clone Drive in order to mount ISOs).
Copy the entire contents of the ISO:
And then paste to the USB:
You will be informed that the install.wim is too large to fit on the file destination system (FAT32). Select Skip:
Go to the sources folder of the mounted ISO and Copy the install.wim.
Paste it directly to C:\
Select Continue to allow permissions:
Now right click the start button and select Windows PowerShell (Admin):
Accept the User Account Control Prompt:
Paste the following line:
Dism /Split-Image /ImageFile:C:\install.wim /SWMFile:C:\install.swm /FileSize:4000
Then press Enter [↵]:
You will be informed the operation is complete:
Now copy install.swm and install2.swm:
To the sources folder of the USB Flash Drive:
Your Windows 10 Bootable USB is now ready.
On Linux we need to use GParted to make sure our USB Flash Drive is formatted as FAT32. Then as the install.wim file exceeds 4 GB we need to use the wimtools library to split the install.wim file to multiple swm files that are below 4 GB so that they can fit within the constrains of the FAT32 file system. Once we have this, we can copy all the files over and will get a USB Flash Drive that can Boot in a UEFI BIOS and Pass Secure Boot.
Booting From Windows 10 Installation Media
Insert your Bootable USB into your Computer and Remove any other USB Storage Devices such as USB Sticks and External Hard Drives.
Power off your computer.
Power it up and press the key combination for your OEM to get to the Boot Menu.
- For a Dell or Lenovo System this is [F12].
- For a HP and other OEMs it is often [Esc] or one of the Function Keys [F1-F12].
Preparing Boot Menu should Flash Up. If not and you are taken straight into Windows, you will need to power down and try again:
If your system was built in 2012 or newer the next screen you should have should mention Boot Mode and Secure Boot. For optimal Security and Performance you should have these set to UEFI and ON respectively.
Use the [↓] key to get to your Bootable USB and once it is highlighted press [Enter]
You should see your OEM Logo:
You should now see the following Windows screen.
The Language to Install is for informational purposes only and lists only a single option. To change it you need to Download the Windows 10 ISO of the Desired Language and begin the install with your new Windows 10 Bootable USB.
The Time and Currency Format and Keyboard or Input method can be changed to Australian or Canadian settings for example.
Once you have made the correct options select Next:
The next screen gives you the option to Repair your Computer. This guide focuses on Clean Installation however:
Your Windows Product Key
Select Install Now:
Windows 8.0/8.1/10 OEM Embedded Product Key
The next screen will say Setup is Starting and you will see an Hour Glass Appear.
Windows 10 will look for an embedded OEM Product Key. If present Windows 10 Installation Media will find the key, the key will dictate the Edition of Windows 10 to install and take you straight to the license agreement screen.
Windows 10 Installation Media treats Windows 8.0 OEM and Windows 8.1 OEM Product Keys as Windows 10 Product Keys.
Bypass OEM Embedded Product Key
In the background the Windows setup will look in order for:
- A PID.txt in the sources folder.
- An embedded OEM Product Key.
To bypass the embedded OEM product key you can create a text file within the sources folder of the Bootable USB called pid.txt.
Windows 7 OEM Printed Product Keys
The technology to embed a Product Key wasn't available when Windows 7 was released. Windows 7 OEM Keys were instead physically printed. The following screen will accept a Windows 7 Product Key however if Windows 10 has already been installed and activated then your systems hardware details are already stored with a Microsoft Product Activation Server. It will recognise your system and automatically reactivate Windows on it even without input of a Product Key. Select "I don't have a Product Key" and then either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro:
|Windows 7 Edition||Windows 10 Edition|
The Windows 7 Product Key can be used for the initial first time activation of Windows 10. If the Product Key has faded the GatherOSState application can be used instead.
Windows 10 License Agreement
Accept the License Agreement then select Next:
THE NEXT STEP WILL RESULT IN DATA LOSS. DO NOT PROCEED IF YOU HAVE IMPORTANT DATA ON YOUR DRIVE.
If you are reinstalling Windows because you cannot boot into your old Windows Installation use a Linux Fedora Live Bootable USB to Back all your files to an External Hard Drive.
Delete all Partitions and Format your Drive
You can use the Windows Setup to remove all previously existing partitions on tour drive. Highlight each partition and select Delete. Do this until all you have is Drive 0 Unallocated Space. Do not worry about any of the partitions being recovery partitions, they correspond to old versions of Windows and in any case won't work when a manual installation is performed. The Windows 10 will create all the additional partitions it needs during the Windows setup. Once you have deleted all the partitions select next to proceed with the install.
Multiple Drives: SSD Cache Drive
If you have multiple drives like shown then it is likely there is a low capacity Solid State Drive (SSD) and larger capacity Hard Drive (HDD) in your computer.
Dell Data Wipe
Note the Windows setup will only format the drive. It will not perform a secure data wipe (which should be done if reinstalling due to a virus or if you want to pass your computer on without your personal information). Dell models post 2016 have the ability to perform a Data Wipe from within their UEFI BIOS.
If you have an older system without Dell Data Wipe you'll need to use Parted Magic to perform a Secure Wipe. For more details see:
If no drives are listed on the screen below with the error:
We couldn't find any drivers. To get a storage driver, click Load driver.
Then a Storage Controller or SATA Driver needs to be loaded so Windows 10 can access the Drive. This is relatively rare as Windows 10 Installation Media is usually newer than your computer. Note this error can also display if no Drives are physically connected to the computer or if all the Storage Controllers are Disabled in the UEFI BIOS setup.
If you get the following error messages instead
A media driver your computer needs is missing
A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing
Then your installation media is likely corrupt. Try redownloading the ISO and making a new Bootable USB.
Loading Storage Controller (SATA) Drivers
The Windows Setup
The Windows 10 Install will then proceed:
You will be informed that your computer will restart in 10 seconds. It is a good idea to remove the Bootable USB at this stage as some computers are setup to list the Bootable USB as a higher priority than the internal drive and people end up stuck in a loop.
It'll take a moment to get ready.
Next you'll be given the option to select your Region. In my case because I am using English United Kingdom installation media, the United Kingdom is selected as my Region. Since this is the correct region I will select Yes:
Then you will be given Keyboard options. Once again the United Kingdom keyboard is correct in my case, so I will it selected and select Yes:
I do not want to toggle for another keyboard layout so I will select Skip:
The Windows 10 setup will automatically try and connect to Ethernet if present otherwise you will be prompted for a wireless network. Select your wireless network and input your wireless password:
To sign in with a Microsoft Account, input your email and select next:
Then input your password:
Then you will be prompted to setup a pin:
Input your pin and confirm your pin and then select OK:
Select Offline Account to sign in with a Local Account:
You will be prompted to sign in with a Microsoft Account. Select Limited Experience:
Input your username and select next. Note although you can put spaces within your username, it isn't advised as some third party software packages for instance Anaconda don't work well with spaces within your user profile.
Input your password or leave the field blank and select Next:
If you set a password you will be prompted to set security questions in case you forget your password.
You will also be given the option to select what other Microsoft Services you want to Enable. Note there is a compromise between the services you enable and the privacy settings you select. Microsoft have designed these screens so that the Accept button is grayed out until you select an option.
The first option will be if you want to use Cortana and speech recognition. Usually I disable this setting as I don't use this service.
The next setting is mainly for maps, weather and internet browsing so it gives you region specific information and news.
The next option links your device to your Microsoft Account (and requires a Microsoft Account). You should in some cases be able to use your Microsoft Account to find your device (providing it is powered and connected to the internet). This may also help police retrieve your device if it gets stolen but it is a fairly limited service.
Next you'll be asked about sending Diagnostic Data to Microsoft. You can either opt to send Basic or Full Diagnostic Data. I usually send Full Data as it can potentially help them to address issues which may crop up with new Builds of Windows 10.
The next screen is to Improve Inking & Typing. In general I don't want every single keyboard stroke I make logged and sent back to Microsoft, so I will select No at this setting.
The next option is whether Microsoft can tailor your diagnostic data and give you relevant tips opposed to just generic ones. I usually enable this setting:
The next option is about letting Apps use your Advertising ID for targeted advertising. Microsoft add Adverts on the Microsoft Store. The Advertising ID will mean Microsoft will collect information on your previous store purchases etc. and give you recommendations based on your previous interests. If you Disable this setting it will only give you generic choices. In reality the Store is very rarely used unless you are Gaming. So it doesn't matter too much about this setting.
The next option retains what files and folders you had open on your PCs in the Activity History allowing you to work across all the devices. With Device History any document, set of tabs in a browser etc, for the last 30 days are shared in the Activity Across All Devices. If this option is not selected, Activity History will still be enabled by default on your single Device with only the last 7 days of Activity History. This can be accessed using the keyboard shortcut [⊞] and [↹].
Next if signed in with a Microsoft Account you'll be asked if you want to Protect your Files with OneDrive. If this option is enabled your Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders will automatically be synced with your OneDrive which can also be accessed using your Microsoft Account.
Any existing files from OneDrive will be downloaded on your PC when you attempt to open them. The free OneDrive storage is only 5 GB so its not recommended enabling OneDrive unless you have a subscription. A 1 TB OneDrive subscription is included in Office 365, so if you have an Office 365 subscription its recommended to use OneDrive. To use OneDrive select Next on this Screen. To avoid such a tight integration with OneDrive, select Only Save Files to this PC.
In the next screen you'll be asked whether you want to link your Android phone.
And finally you'll be asked if you want to Enable your Digital Assistant, Cortana.
Once the last setting has been applied, the setup will finish and you'll reach the Windows Desktop. Microsoft Edge will say Welcome to Windows.
Right click the Start Button ans select Settings.
Select Update & Security:
Select Check for Updates:
You will get a number of system drivers and the cumulative update KB4550936 which will take you from the Windows Insider Build to the mainstream build:
You will see that you are not in the Windows Insider program but can join it to get Windows 10 Insider Builds.
If Windows 10 isn't activated the settings will become watermarked.
You will also have some minor restrictions when it comes to personalising the Windows 10 Settings:
You'll get some periodic nags to activate otherwise Windows 10 will be fully functional and you'll continue to receive Updates.
If you have a printed Windows 7 OEM Product Key or Windows 10 Retail Key you can select Change Product Key:
Then input the key and select Next:
Then select Activate.
You will be informed Windows is activated with a digital license and if you are signed in with a Microsoft Account it will also link your Product Activation to it.
OEM Driver Update Utilities
The major OEMs such as Dell, HP and Lenovo have created driver update utilities which will scan the system and compare the driver version Windows 10 has inbuilt or installed from Windows Update to the latest version the OEM has on their servers. The three programs are very similar. Download the program and install it.
It will ask you whether you want it to automatically check for updates. Select OK:
Then select Check:
You can View the Details of the Updates:
Then select Close:
Once the Updates are installed. Restart your computer:
When Windows 10 is installed on older Dell/HP/Lenovo systems that were designed for Windows 7, a generic Touchpad Driver is installed, this is often reset to a default generic driver, post Upgrade Install. In many cases, this driver is severely lacking and the driver released by the Touchpad vendor was for an older version of Windows such as Windows 7. Many of these Touchpad drivers don't install correctly on Windows 10. As Touchpads haven't changed that much over time, the solution is often to install a Touchpad driver available for a newer model of Touchpad. As this Touchpad driver isn't designed for your hardware, it needs to be force installed via the Device Manager. See my popular guide Dell Touchpad Drivers for more details.
If you have a Device where Windows couldn't find a driver automatically you can examine it in more detail via the Device Manager for more details see my guide Checking Hardware IDs using the Device Manager.Checking Hardware IDs in the Device Manager
To enable the paste clipboard press [⊞] and [v] and then turn it on.
You can copy multiple items using [Ctrl] + [c] and access it using [⊞] and [v].
To access the emoji panel, you can press [⊞] and [.] this now has symbol input.
If using a touchscreen you may want to right click the taskbar and select Show touch Keyboard button.
The icon will now display on the taskbar:
Which you can use to access the touch keyboard.
Virtual Desktops and Activity History can be accessed using [⊞] and [↹].
By default the Windows 10 start screen will be like:
To get the full Start Screen go to Settings and then Personalisation.
To the left hand side select Start and then select Use Full Start Screen:
This will give the following:
The Microsoft Chromium Edge can be downloaded from here:
Select Agree and Download:
Select Close and Continue:
Select Get Started:
Select your tab mode settings and then select confirm:
Go to the settings tab:
Select Privacy and Services:
Then to change the Search Provider select Address Bar:
Here you can change the Search Engine to Google:
This browser also supports all Google Chrome Extensions. We can install Malwarebytes Browser Guard:
When attempting to install it we need to select Allow from other stores:
Then "Add to Chrome":
Then Add Extension:
If you have a subscription to Microsoft Office you can install it from.
Launch the Office Downloader:
Accept the User Account Control Prompt:
Office will install in the background:
Windows 10 by default has Windows Defender giving base system security. If you want to install another security product then I recommend Malwarebytes' AntiMalware. There is a free version which only does an on demand scan or a paid version which does Realtime Protection.