Legally download and install Windows 10, 8, 7 from a USB flash drive

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 it to reformat your computer or set up a new computer.

What’s even better is that you can now use a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product key to install Windows 10 on a machine as well. So if you have a PC with Windows 7 or 8.1 and you want to do a clean install, you can now download the Windows 10 ISO image and use your current product key to activate Windows 10 after it’s installed.

The only limitation Microsoft still maintains is that you must install Windows 10 on the same PC that has Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 installed. But even with this limitation, it’s a big change for Microsoft and great for consumers.

In this article, I will talk about how to download a legal ISO image from Microsoft for the latest versions of Windows and how to create a bootable USB flash drive so that you can install the operating system on your PC.

Download Windows 10, 8, 7 ISO Images

Previously, you could download ISO image files for Windows from a partner company called DigitalRiver, but Microsoft removed that option about a year ago.

To download one of the latest operating systems now, you need to visit the software download page here:

At the top you see Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. For Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, you can download the ISO images without needing a product key. You will need to enter that as soon as you start the installation process.

Download Windows 7

However, for Windows 7, you have to enter a product key before you can even download the ISO image file.

verify product key

After entering a valid product key, choose the language and choose whether to download the 32-bit or 64-bit version. Keep in mind that the version of Windows 7 you can download depends on your product key. So if you are using a Windows 7 Home key, you can only download Windows 7 Home.

Download and install Windows 8.1

For Windows 8.1, you need to download the media creation tool. What’s nice about the media creation tool is that you can use it to download Windows 8.1 and install it directly to a USB flash drive or burn it to a DVD.

After you download and run the tool, you will be prompted for the language, edition, and architecture you want to download.

create windows 8 media

Click Next and you’ll have the option to save the file directly to a USB flash drive or download the ISO and burn it to a DVD.

where to download

If you choose a USB flash drive, you will be prompted to insert one before you can start the download. After that, the download will start when you click Next.

download windows iso

Once the download is complete, the tool will begin to install the operating system onto the USB drive or download the ISO file.

make flash drive

Download and install window 10

For Windows 10, you will see a button at the top called Upgrade nowwhich will attempt to upgrade your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 installation to Windows 10. Keep scrolling down and you will see a Download tool now knob.

Windows 10 also comes with a media creation tool, which does the same thing as the Windows 8.1 tool, but has an extra option at the beginning.

Windows 10 media tool

First, you choose whether you want to upgrade the current PC or create installation media for another PC. In our case, we want to choose the latter option.

download windows 10 iso

The Windows 10 media creation tool will also try to determine the best options for you based on current PC hardware. You can uncheck it Use the recommended options for this PC box if you want to choose something else.

usb flash or iso

You can choose from USB flash drive or ISO file with this tool. As with the Windows 8 tool, you need to: burn the ISO image yourself to a DVD if you choose that option.

If you choose a flash drive, just make sure you already have one connected to your computer before clicking Next.

USB Creation Tool for Windows 7

If you download Windows 8 or Windows 10 as an ISO file, you probably want to burn them to a DVD. For Windows 7, you only get the option to download the ISO file (not a media creation tool), so you may want to burn it to a DVD or create a bootable USB flash drive.

Fortunately, Microsoft has another free tool called the USB/DVD Download Tool that takes the ISO and installs it to a USB flash drive or burns it to a DVD. Note that this tool is called Windows 7 USB/DVD tool, but it also works with the Windows 10 and Windows 8 ISO image files.

Once you download and install it, you simply go through a four-step process. First, choose your Windows ISO image file as shown below.

windows usb tool 1

Then choose whether to use a USB device or a DVD for your Windows installation media.

usb or dvd

Make sure to insert your USB device or DVD and then click the Start copying or Start burning button to start the process.

Insert USB device

You will get a pop-up message stating that the USB device must be erased to continue. Go ahead and click Erase USB device† The program will format the USB device and then start the installation.

create bootable usb

Once complete, you will have a bootable Windows USB device or DVD disc. Once you’ve created your media, all you need to do is plug it into your computer and reboot.

Most computers will try to boot from DVD or USB first, so the installation should start automatically. However, if not, you will need to enter the BIOS and manually change the boot order. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoying!

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