How to install Windows 10: download and upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1
Step 1: Head to Microsoft’s new Windows 10 download page and click on the link for the 64-bit version. Only use 32-bit if your computer doesn’t have a 64-bit processor. There’s no need to save the file – just choose the Run option.
Step 2: You will see two options: Upgrade now, or create installation media. Assuming you’re trying to upgrade the PC you’re running the tool on, choose Upgrade this PC now. The reason for this is that you can’t do a clean install straight away as part of the free update. See ourstep-by-step instructions on installing Windows 10 for details on a clean install.
Step 3: Now Windows 10 will start downloading from scratch. We’ve just tried this on a laptop and there doesn’t appear to be any delay from Microsoft’s servers, even on launch day.
Step 3: If you would rather create a bootable USB or DVD to install Windows 10 on another computer, or multiple PCs, choose that option. This is a new and easier way to install Windows than dealing with ISO images, as the download tool is an all-in-one utility that will do everything for you. All you need is at least a 4GB USB drive (or single-layer writable DVD). It can also convert the downloaded files to an ISO if that’s what you want. You can choose the language, and even to create a bootable drive or disc with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. What’s important is that you choose the right Edition. You can see which version your computer is eligible for in Will my PC get Windows 10?
Step 4: Accept the licence terms when prompted, and the installer will then check your PC for compatibility with Windows 10, that it has enough free space and will download updates. Youwill not need an activation key for Windows 10 if you are upgrading from an eligible version of Windows 7 or 8.1.
Step 5: When prompted, click to install Windows 10 and your machine will reboot. You’ll see a Windows logo, followed by a language selection – UK English should be selected. Windows 10 will then install automatically, keeping all your programs (apart from antivirus), files and settings. However, as we said at the start, it’s worth backing up anything you can’t afford to lose first.
Step 6: When you finally get to the Windows 10 desktop, allow a bit of time for Windows 10 search for drivers for your hardware. Initially on our test laptop, it seemed as though the graphics card drivers hadn’t been found and installed. However, after a few minutes this was all done in the background and the correct resolution set.
If you want to do a clean install, then scroll down to the next section.
Still, it’s worth heading to Device Manager and checking that all drivers are installed, especially for the system chipset. If you can’t find Windows 10 drivers from your motherboard manufacturer, Windows 7 or 8 drivers may work.
Step 7: Now read our Windows 10 in screenshots for a guide to how to use the new features.
How to install Windows 10: Clean install
You can’t clean install Windows 10 without going through the upgrade process above. That’s because you don’t have an product key as you do with Windows 7 or 8, so Windows 10 needs to activate automatically online after upgrading from an elibigle copy of Windows 7 or 8.1.
When Windows 10 is activated, Microsoft can identify your PC and associate it with an activated and valid Windows 10 licence. This means you can perform a clean install (even on a different hard drive, so it’s a good time to upgrade to an SSD if you have been running Windows on a traditional hard drive) and Windows 10 will activate without issue.
To check if Windows 10 has activated after upgrading, head to Control Panel > System and Security > System and look under Windows activation:
Only if you make “significant changes” to your PC will you have to call the Microsoft activation helpline.
To do a clean install, you’ll need to return to Step 2 in the walkthough above, using the tool you downloaded to create a bootable USB drive or DVD. Once that’s done, turn off your computer, install and / or remove any hard drives and SSDs you want to swap around and then boot from your USB or DVD.
If your PC won’t boot from it, head into the BIOS settings (typically press Delete, F1 or one of the other F keys just after you turn your computer on) and make sure removable drives, or the DVD drive is set as the first boot device, and not a hard drive. We can’t be specific about the menus and settings, since each BIOS is different.
How to fix flashing screen after Windows 10 installation
It was drawn to our attention on our forums that many users are having issues with the screen flashing following the Windows 10 installation.
Fortunately it’s fixable. First, restart your computer. You can try pressing Alt-F4 and choosing restart if you can do it while the screen is blinking, but otherwise hold down the power button for up to 10 seconds until the computer turns off. Turn it on again, but instead of logging into Windows 10, click the on-screen power button and then hold the Shift key on your keyboard while clicking the Restart option.
Windows 10 won’t restart but will go to a screen with a troubleshooting option. Click this and then Advanced options. Now choose to restart and you will see options to go into Safe Mode. Any Safe Mode option will do. The PC will now start in Safe Mode.
Press the Windows key and R together to get the Run box. Now type msconfig and press Enter. Go to the Services Tab in the window that opens. Scroll down until you find two tasks that need to be stopped:
- Problem Reports and Solution Control Panel Support
- Windows Error Report Service
Disable these by unchecking them, then click Apply, Ok. Restart the computer. If that doesn’t fix it, reboot into Safe Mode again and right-click on the taskbar along the bottom of the screen. Choose Task Manager and then click on the tab for Startup programs. You can right-click on each one and disable it. This should stop the blinking screen, and you can then turn services back on in Task Manager one by one (a restart after each) to isolate which program is causing it.