Clean installing Windows 10

On this day last week, Microsoft released it’s latest Operating System offering – Windows 10, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few months I’m sure that you’ve heard of it.


Windows 10 supersedes Windows 8.1 and for those using Windows 7 or Windows 8 as their current Operating System, Windows 10 can be had as a free upgrade. Which is great news for a number of different reasons – personally I was happy using Windows 8.1 with a few changes in place but always like to be using the most recent version of software.
The reason for this post however wasn’t to sell Windows 10 to you, it was to provide advice about doing a clean install. One of my major frustrations with Windows 8.1 was that you couldn’t clean install it to a machine shipped with Windows 8 – the BIOS embedded keys were different causing an activation headache.

As a rule I find you always get better performance from an Operating System by clean installing it to a formatted disk rather than upgrading it from a previous system – this applies not only to Windows but to OS X and Linux distros also. When doing work for many of my clients this involves more work on my part, but gives them a much better experience afterwards.

So when Windows 10 was released I thought “Could I simply format a Windows 7/8 system with a Windows 10 USB and clean install?” the answer is No, Microsoft doesn’t make things that simple – but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the option of using Windows 10 clean – you simply need to process the upgrade first.

So if you are running Windows 7 or 8 now and would like Windows 10, do the upgrade (Use this link) and select the option to Upgrade this computer. Once that process has taken place your BIOS embedded key (Or product key, if not using an OEM install) will be accepted by Windows 10 for activation.

With an upgraded install of Windows 10 on your system, simply pop in a USB flash drive and using the same link above prepare a USB to install on another computer and once completed boot your system from the USB, format the drive and proceed with the clean install.

When prompted for a product key, simply skip – once you have completed the install Windows 10 will activate successfully. (This step doesn’t work if you don’t do the Windows 7/8 > Windows 10 upgrade via the Windows 7/8 installation!)

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