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How to install Windows 10 on your PC

Mark Hachman | July 30, 2015
You've read the review, pored through the tips and how-tos, and have waited breathlessly for the day that you can download Windows 10.

Note that you can use this tool not only to upgrade Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PCs, but also Windows 10 PCs with older builds. Don't get sneaky, though. You won't be able to score a free upgrade to Windows 10 Professional if your existing license doesn't support it. Here's a recap of who gets what:

Host operating system edition

Windows 10 edition

Windows 7 Starter

Windows 7 Home Basic

Windows 7 Home Premium

Windows 8/8.1Windows 8.1 with Bing

Windows 10 Home

Windows 10 Home

Windows 7 Professional

Windows 7 Ultimate

Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8.1 Pro

Windows 8/8.1 Professional with Media Center

Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 Pro


You can try a clean installation by booting directly from the USB key or DVD; when you do so, you have the option of keeping your files or wiping out everything. However, I ran into an issue where Windows claimed my disk partitions were improperly organized and refused to let me go further. I tried an in-place installation instead.

From there, however, the installation proceeded smoothly. Make sure you allow Windows to download relevant drivers as the installation proceeds. You'll need to agree to a license agreement, and then the installation process will begin in earnest.

You may run into a situation where Windows asks for a license key. If you're upgrading from a licensed copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you can click the tiny "skip" option; Microsoft will dig out the license key from the depths of your machine. If this is a brand-new installation, of course, you'll need to enter the proper key.

Microsoft encourages you to upgrade to Windows 10 first, and then--if you so choose--wipe the drive and reset Windows to improve performance. You can do in the Settings > Update & Security menu. There, you'll have the option to keep your personal files and reinstall Windows, remove all your files and settings, or perform a factory reset, which will probably bring the PC back to Windows 8.1. We haven't tried it yet.

That same menu offers a chance to roll back from Windows 10 to Windows 8.1, as well. That option expires a month after you upgrade to Windows 10. 

But downgrade to Windows 8.1? Why? Windows 10 is terrific, and well worth the wait. And if you're feeling a little nervous about your first steps into the brand new world of Windows--don't worry. Our Windows 10 tutorial will arrive very soon. 


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