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This article, updated to reflect Windows 10 version aka May Update , covers the most common scenarios you’re likely to encounter when installing, reinstalling, and activating Windows For the first year after the release of Windows 10, Microsoft offered free upgrades using the Get Windows 10 app , which appeared in the taskbar as a notification icon and in Windows Update.
With the end of the free upgrade offer, the Get Windows 10 app is no longer available, and you cannot upgrade from an older Windows version using Windows Update. The good news is that you can still upgrade to Windows 10 on a device that has a license for Windows 7 or Windows 8. You’ll need to download the installation files and run the Setup program from within Windows or use the Upgrade Assistant available from Microsoft’s accessibility page.
For details, see “Here’s how you can still get a free Windows 10 upgrade. If you’ve built a new PC or you’re installing Windows 10 in a virtual machine on a Mac, you can purchase a license from third-party sellers or from Microsoft itself, via the Microsoft Store. Prices from third-party sellers, including Amazon , are typically lower. Depending on how you purchase, you’ll receive installation media DVD or USB key or a product key and instructions for downloading installation media.
Windows 10 tips: Setup and configuration: Don’t settle for default settings Performance and troubleshooting Productivity Networking and security. If you already have a Windows 10 product key or you are planning to reinstall Windows 10 on a machine that already has a digital license more on that later , visit the Download Windows 10 page and download the Media Creation Tool.
This free download allows you to create a bootable USB flash drive directly. As an alternative, I recommend that you download an ISO file instead. By default, the pre-selected options choose an architecture bit or bit that matches that of the current PC. Open the drop-down list shown here if you want to choose a different architecture or download an ISO file that includes both architectures. The combined installer is just over 6 GB in size. For a workaround, see “Windows 10 installer files too big for USB flash drive?
Here’s the fix. A free day trial edition is also available from the Microsoft Evaluation Center. Microsoft made Windows 10 version also known as the Windows 10 May Update available to the Release Preview ring of the Windows Insider Program on April 16, , and plans to begin making it widely available to consumers via Windows Update at the end of May.
This major update succeeds version also known as the Windows 10 November Update. That version was released to the general public on November 12, The previous version was version , which was released on May 21, The version release was deliberately scaled down to include only “a scoped set of features for select performance improvements, enterprise features, and quality enhancements.
In its first two years, Windows 10 had separate release schedules for consumer and business editions. In mid, Microsoft consolidated these two channels into a single one. Business and enterprise customers can opt to defer the appearance of new releases in Windows Update for up to days after the general release date using the Windows Update for Business feature set.
For a full listing of release dates for major versions, see the official Windows 10 release information page. Each major release is associated with a build number. The initial July release was build The build numbers of subsequent updates are as follows:. As an alternative, you can click in the search box and type settings:about. The same information is also available using the winver command, which displays results in a compact About Windows dialog box.
The system shown below, for example, is running the May Update, version , with the Cumulative Update applied. If you are running any unmanaged edition of Windows 10 using default settings, these feature updates the new, official terminology for what were once called upgrades are delivered through Windows Update.
In versions prior to , feature updates download and install automatically. You can schedule the installation for a more convenient time or postpone it for a few days, but you cannot delay the update indefinitely.
Beginning with version , Microsoft began offering feature updates for installation separately from security and reliability updates. The company says these updates will not be downloaded or installed automatically unless the current version is at or near the end of its support window.
For more details about these changes, see “Windows 10 Home edition users are big winners as Microsoft overhauls its update process. On systems running Windows 10 Home and Pro, the support period for each version is 18 months. Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions have a longer support period of 30 months for the version released in the second half of each year. To manage feature updates based on these support calendars, see “When will you get the next version of Windows 10?
Here’s how to take control. When a feature update is released, it may take several weeks or months to roll out to the huge worldwide installed base of Windows 10 users, a process Microsoft calls “throttling. Each feature update delivered through Windows Update requires roughly 3 GB of bandwidth and disk space. If your PC is running an outdated version as might be the case if you restored it using the manufacturer’s recovery media and you don’t want to wait for Windows Update, you can use the Windows 10 Update Assistant to get the latest version.
Visit the Download Windows 10 page and click Update Now to start the process. That action downloads a very small installer file that runs a compatibility check and then, assuming the device passes all compatibility tests, begins the full upgrade. The Update Assistant is a straightforward wizard that doesn’t require technical knowledge to use; it does, however, require an administrator’s credentials to install.
If you upgrade over a properly activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8. After the upgrade is complete, your new copy of Windows 10 will be activated with what Microsoft calls a “digital license. If you are using bootable installation media to perform a clean install on a PC that previously had a properly activated copy of Windows 10 , you do not need to enter a product key. When you see the prompt to enter a key, click the I don’t have a product key option.
Because the PC received a digital license as part of its earlier upgrade, Windows 10 will be automatically activated after the installation is complete. If you are using bootable installation media to perform a clean install on a PC that has never been upgraded to Windows 10 and activated, you will need to enter a product key.
You can enter a product key from Windows 10 or from a matching edition of Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8. Residents of the United States who don’t own a qualifying Windows license can skip entering a product key and purchase a license online from the Windows Store after setup is complete. When you upgrade over an existing, activated copy of Windows, the Setup program checks the current activation status.
If it determines the installation is properly activated, it contacts a Microsoft activation server and generates a license certificate that is linked to that hardware.
A Microsoft account is not required for this step; the license is generated for the device, not for its owner. This automatic activation process is identical whether you use an ISO file to start the upgrade or do so from the downloaded upgrade files. After that first activation is complete, you can perform a clean install on that same hardware using Windows 10 installation media. As long as the hardware “fingerprint” matches the previous installation ID, the installation is activated automatically.
Microsoft does not provide details of what goes into the hardware ID, except to confirm that it does not contain any personally identifiable information and is not used for tracking purposes. That’s primarily dependent on the performance of your system. Windows Setup uses hardlinks to migrate data files, so the amount of data files shouldn’t have a significant effect on install times. Over the past few versions, Microsoft has made some changes that speed the process up significantly for the twice-yearly feature updates see “Windows 10 feature updates painfully slow?
Relief is in sight”. In my experience, the update can take as little as 30 minutes and as much as two hours. Anything more than that indicates a problem or very old, slow hardware. In version , most of the work occurs in the background, and the final stage, which occurs after a reboot, can take less than 10 minutes on modern hardware. The N editions of Windows lack media playback capabilities. Microsoft is required to offer these editions as part of a settlement in a European antitrust trial.
Windows 10 S is a special configuration of Windows 10 that allows users to install only programs that are downloaded from the Microsoft Store and blocks access to many command-line tools. In fact, you can apply that upgrade using a spare key from an earlier edition of Windows, including Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8. Follow the instructions in this article carefully: “How to upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Pro for free.
This procedure is especially useful when restoring Windows 10 on a system that originally shipped with Home edition and was manually upgraded to Pro. In this scenario, you might need to use a generic product key first to upgrade to Pro. After the upgrade is complete, you can activate using the stored digital license or a product key. I recommend that you leave them for now unless disk space is so tight that you absolutely must remove them.
The Windows. It will delete itself automatically in 10 days. You can do so manually by running Disk Cleanup Manager in administrator mode and choosing the option to remove your old Windows version. Because of the way Windows assigns permissions to these folders, you can’t delete them from File Explorer but instead must use one of the previously mentioned system tools. Having installation files available comes in handy if you need to reset your PC or if you are in the Windows Insider Program and need to roll back a build.
I recommend that you leave them intact unless you’re critically low on disk space. That’s up to you. Windows 10 supports upgrades over Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or later as well as clean installs. To do a clean install, you will need bootable media.
Second, you must install Windows 10 on a separate disk partition or physical drive; if you choose the same partition that contains an existing Windows version, you will lose access to that Windows installation. Your existing data files and all current Windows system files will be moved to the Windows old folder.
Windows 10 will add itself to the boot menu if you install it in a separate volume on a system that already has a previous version of Windows installed. Yes, as long as the virtualization software is compatible.
On a Mac, you can use third-party software like Parallels Desktop. You’ll see occasional pop-up prompts that ask questions about your experience with Windows You can click those tiles to send comments, or use the Feedback Hub app you’ll find it on the new Start menu. More questions? Ask away in the comments below or, better yet, open my bio page and click the email icon below my name.
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Start Parallels Desktop You will see the registration window. You should either sign in to your existing account or create a new one. After. Go to the Parallels Desktop menu, click on Account & License to open the activation window where you can enter your new key.
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