If you have a valid Windows product key, you can download full legal copies of Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 from Microsoft and use them to reformat your computer or install a new computer.
Better yet, you can now use your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product key to install Windows 10 on your computer. So if you have a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC and want to perform a clean install, you can now download the Windows 10 ISO and use your current product key to activate Windows 10 after installing it.
The only limitation that Microsoft still retains is that you must install Windows 10 on the same computer that had Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 installed. However, even with this limitation, this is a big change for Microsoft and a great solution for consumers.
In this article, I will walk you through how to download a legal ISO image from Microsoft for the latest Windows versions and create a bootable USB so you can install the OS on your computer.
Download Windows 10, 8 and 7 ISO images
In the past, you could download ISO image files for Windows from partner company DigitalRiver, but Microsoft removed this capability about a year ago.
Now, to download any of the latest operating systems, you need to visit the software download page here:
At the top, you will see Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. For Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, you can download ISO images without a product key. You must enter this when you start the installation process.
Download Windows 7
Download Windows 7
However, for Windows 7, you actually need to enter your product key before you can even download the ISO image file.
After you enter a valid product key, you will select your language and whether you want to download the 32-bit or 64-bit version. Please note that the version of Windows 7 you receive will depend on your product key. Thus, if you use the Windows 7 Home key, you will only be able to download Windows 7 Home.
Download and install Windows 8.1
Download and install Windows 8.1
For Windows 8.1, you need to download the Media Creation Tool. The good thing about the media creation tool is that you can boot Windows 8.1 and install it directly to a USB drive or burn it to DVD.
After you download the tool and run it, you will be prompted to select the language, version and architecture you want to download.
Click Next and you will have the option to save the file directly to a USB stick or download an ISO image and burn it to DVD.
If you choose a USB drive, you will be prompted to insert it before you can start downloading. After that, the download will start when you click the “Next” button.
After the download is complete, the tool will start installing the OS to the USB stick or downloading the ISO file.
Download and Install Window 10
Download and install Window 10
For Windows 10, you will see an Upgrade Now button at the top that will attempt to upgrade your installed Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. Continue scrolling down and you will see a Download Now button. P>
Windows 10 also comes with a media creation tool that performs the same functions as the Windows 8.1 tool but has an additional option at the very beginning.
First, you choose whether you want to update your current computer or create installation media for another PC. In our case, we want to choose the last option.
The Windows 10 Media Creation Tool will also try to determine the best options for you based on your current PC hardware. You can uncheck “Use recommended settings for this PC” if you want to choose something different.
With this tool, you can select USB stick or ISO file. As with the Windows 8 tool, you will have to burn the ISO image to DVD yourself if you choose this option.
If you choose a USB stick, you just need to make sure it is already connected to your computer before clicking Next.
USB Builder for Windows 7
If you boot Windows 8 or Windows 10 as an ISO file, you might want to burn them to DVD. In Windows 7, you only have the option to download the ISO file (no media creation tool), so you can burn it to DVD or make a bootable USB stick.
Luckily, Microsoft has another free tool called USB / DVD Download Tool that takes an ISO image and installs it on a USB stick or burns it to DVD. Please note that this tool is called Windows 7 USB / DVD, but it also works with Windows 10 and Windows 8 ISO image files.
Once you download and install it, you just go through a four-step process. First, you select the Windows ISO image file as shown below.
Then you choose whether you want to use the USB device or DVD as your Windows installation media.
Be sure to insert a USB device or DVD and then click the Start Rip or Start Burn button to start the process.
You will receive a pop-up message telling you to erase the USB device to continue. Go ahead and click Erase USB Device. The program will format the USB device and start installation.
Once complete, you will have a bootable Windows USB device or DVD. Once you’ve created your media, you just need to plug it into your computer and reboot.
Most computers will try to boot from DVD or USB first, so the installation should start automatically. Otherwise, however, you will have to enter BIOS and manually change the boot order. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave comments. Enjoy!