Microsoft Windows OEM FAQs and Downloads

Upgrading to a Solid State Drive (SSD)

If you have an older Mechanical Hard Drive (HDD) in your PC you may get a substantially low performance when running Windows 10 due to the slow speed of the HDD (100 % Disc Usage). It is recommended to replace the HDD with a Solid State Drive (SSD) and 250 GB Models are now affordable. For SSD and Memory Upgrades the best Vendor is Crucial, I have been recommending them for years and just recently joined their affiliate program. If purchasing an upgrade please click the link below as affiliate purchases will help cover my website costs.

OEM Licensing – Am I Licensed to Run Windows on My Device/Where is My Product Key?

Windows 8.1 OEM and Windows 10 OEM Product Keys

Systems with the following stickers have a 25 digit Product Key embedded into the systems motherboard. Windows 10 Installation Media will automatically input it during installation selecting the correct Edition.

Windows 8.1/10 Home OEM Product Key and Windows 7/8/10 Pro Retail or Windows 10 Education Key

Windows 10 will automatically input the Windows 8.1/10 OEM Product Key during installation giving you Windows 10 Home for a Windows 10 Home OEM License. If you have previously switched to Pro or Education Editions, you will need to do so again post-installation.

Windows 7 OEM Product Keys

Older systems had a sticker which stated the Edition of Windows 7 and an affixed 25 Digit Product Key. This key can be used for a one-time initial activation of Windows 10 during which the systems hardware profile (motherboard details) is submitted to a Microsoft Product Activation Server. For any subsequent installation the Product Key may be skipped and the Device will Activate when online as the Microsoft Product Activation Server will remember the systems hardware profile. The CoA states your Edition of Windows 7 and 25 Digit Product Key. Unfortunately the CoA is prone to fading and Dell as a consequence commonly placed them in the battery compartment for laptops.

Edition of Windows 7Edition of Windows 10 to Install
Home BasicHome
Home PremiumHome

If your CoA has faded, it is possible to upgrade your system to Windows 10 for free provided you have Windows 7 installed, activated and online:

Windows XP OEM and Windows Vista OEM Product Keys

These Product Keys are not Compatible with Windows 10 in a move to persuade users to migrate to newer hardware. A gentle reminder that the newest of these models are from 2008 and over a decade old. 2006-2008 models pass minimum system requirements (if they have been upgraded to a Solid State Drive) to run Windows 10 and one may install Windows 10 Home without a Product Key and run it unlicensed.

An unlicensed Windows 10 has a few limitations such as a watermarked Desktop and you are stuck with some of Windows 10 Default Settings that are grayed out.

Unlike previous builds of Windows you will not be forcefully logged out. The unlicensed Windows 10 gives at least equivalent functionality to Windows Vista and will be up to date opposed to being 2 years out of date and a large security risk. It is not worth purchasing a Full Retail OS License for these models as it normally exceeds the cost of second hand newer hardware which has a Windows 7 OEM, Windows 8.x OEM or Windows 10 OEM License. Moreover there will be no guarantee that Microsoft won’t elevate system requirements at a later date for newer builds of Windows 10, locking out your model from receiving Updates. Notes about older Dell Models running Windows 10 and System Drivers are available here:

Windows 10 Version 1903 (Build 18362 Main Track)

Upgrade Install

Creating Installation Media

Clean Install

Windows 10 Older Builds

Older Builds of Windows 10 are only available as Direct Download Links however should only be used in the rare cases where one has a problem.

Direct Downloads of Windows 10 Version 1803 and Windows 10 Version 1809 have the issue that the install.wim exceeds 4 GB making it more difficult to make a FAT32 formatted USB Flash Drive.

Windows 10 Installation Media from Dell

It is not recommended to use Windows 10 Installation Media from Dell. Dell Windows 10 Installation Media has several limitations for instance he inability to install English (UK), does not include additional drivers and is usually out of date compared to Installation Media Available from Microsoft.

Securely Wiping your Devices Drives (SSD/HSSD/HDD)

Creating an Image of your Windows Installation and Recovering from it

System Drivers – OEM Driver Update Utilities

Office 365


Windows 8.1

This Windows Version is obsolete and has a very low usage/support base, you are better to clean install Windows 10 on your Device Instead.

Installation Media

Clean Installation

Windows 7

This version of Windows Reaches End of Life in January 2020.

Installation Media


The Last Dell

  • The Dell OptiPlex 7040
  • The Dell OptiPlex 3040

Clean Installation

Windows Vista

This Version of Windows Reached End of Life in April 2017. It wasn’t a very popular Version of Windows and pretty much all Windows Vista compatible software ran better on Windows 7.

Windows XP

This Version of Windows Reached End of Life in April 2014. If you need for a specialist application you are best to create an Offline Virtual Machine.

Installation Media

Virtualisation of Windows XP

The Last Dell

  • The Dell OptiPlex 7010
  • The Dell OptiPlex 3010

Clean Installation

System Drivers

Windows 98SE

Virtualisation of Windows 98SE


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