How To: Upgrade to Windows 10 or do a clean installation

Windows 10

Welcome to our new series of Windows 10 guides which will show you everything you need to know about the latest version of the operating system. Today we will be taking an in-depth look at how you can install Windows 10 in your PC, either through an upgrade or a clean installation. Windows 10 does quite a few things differently than previous versions of the OS so many people feel confused about the process.

How to upgrade

This is, by far, the easiest way to get Windows 10 in your computer. But as in everything in life that comes easy, it may not be the best option for you. As you probably already know, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users can get the upgrade to Windows 10 completely free of charge. This is done via the “Get Windows 10” app that Microsoft will install in your PC and there is really no way to miss it as it will frequently bug you via the notifications tray at the bottom right of your screen. If you do not have that icon in your screen, make sure you install all the Windows Updates and then check again. When you do get the icon, reserve your upgrade, head over to Windows Update once again and you should see an option to download and install Windows 10.

Windows 10 Upgrade

Since the update is rolling out slowly for everyone, you might not be one of the first people in line to get it. If you do not want to wait anymore, go to Microsoft’s ‘Download Windows 10’ page and grab the 32-bit or 64-bit tool depending on your computer’s hardware. Once you download and run the tool, it should give you two options: Upgrade this PC now and Create installation media for another PC. The first option is what you want to do at this point. After the tool downloads Windows 10 you will be presented with three options: keep personal files and apps, keep personal files only or keep nothing. Choose wisely because the files deleted via this process cannot be recovered.

How to do a clean install

Another thing that has changed with Windows 10 is how Microsoft handles clean installations. Windows 10 may be provided free of charge but there are some limitations, one of which is that you cannot install the same version in multiple computers. What happens instead is that when you upgrade from a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 computer, Microsoft registers your computer in its servers. It does not create a license key like it did before and there is no way to insert a Windows 7/8.1 key in any Microsoft service in order to grab a Windows 10 license. Yes, this is quite a stupid thing to do but the company really wants people to upgrade to the latest version as soon as possible and this is a really good way to ensure that.

However, if you still want a clean installation, there are several ways to go about it. The most obvious one is to download the upgrade tool I mentioned above and select the “keep nothing” option. This is probably the easiest method thus far but it may not be viable for everyone. Another way to do it is to upgrade to Windows 10 like everyone else and then perform a reset. To do that, go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery and click on the “Get started” button underneath the “Reset this PC” menu. This will give you the option to remove everything and start Windows 10 anew. Do note that some users are reporting that this method does not fix system-wide problems though your mileage may vary.

Windows 10 Reset

Finally, if you want to install Windows 10 in a computer with no internet connection, you are in for a terrible joyride. First of all, the only way to do that is to ensure that the unconnected PC will have access to the internet right after the installation so that Microsoft can confirm the upgrade via its servers. That PC will also need to fit the free upgrade requirements, meaning it needs a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license. Of course, if you have actually purchased Windows 10, you can perform a traditional USB or DVD installation and insert your product key during the installation process. However, I see absolutely no reason why anyone would buy Windows 10 at this point since getting a free upgrade is so incredibly easy.

Initial setup

Regardless of the type of installation you have chosen, you will still need to perform an initial configuration of your new Windows 10 computer. First of all, there are two different paths you can take here: Express or Custom setup. I strongly recommend you follow the custom path, even if it will take a little longer to get through. Windows 10 is very strong on internet-connected features, meaning that privacy-minded individuals will definitely want to disable some of the features found here. A lot of the data Microsoft will request from you is so that Cortana can actually operate so keep in mind that if you disable personalization features, the virtual assistant will just stop working. Aside from that, the setup process is easier than never and Windows 10 will guide you every step of the way. As for what you will find inside the operating system, make sure to keep an eye out for our next guides later this week.