Did you know you can download a Windows 10 disc image free from Microsoft? This is seemingly little known, but yes you can download a complete legitimate Windows 10 ISO without registering or even having a product key, and you can install and run the entirety of Windows 10 using the image too.
Once you have the Windows 10 ISO downloaded to a computer, you can then use it to install into a virtual machine, create an installer drive, use it for Boot Camp, or install it onto a PC. What you do with the Windows 10 disc image after you download it is up to you, but there are no practical limitations on the file as it’s a full official release as a disc image, downloaded directly from Microsoft. Activation can be skipped and performed later.
How to Download Windows 10 Disc Image ISO Free from Microsoft
You can download the Windows 10 disc image using any web browser from just about any operating system, we’re showing this on a Mac but you can download it on another Windows PC or Linux machine too. The file arrives as a standard .iso disk image file. Here’s what you’ll want to do:
- Go to this microsoft.com official download page for Windows 10
- Choose the Windows 10 edition you want to download, then choose the language for which to download the Windows 10 ISO for and choose confirm
- Click the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 10 to download to start downloading the ISO file
The Windows 10 ISO 64 bit release is a little less than 5GB in size, so it may take a while to download to your computer. If you’re downloading Windows 10 onto a Mac, you will find the iso file in the downloads directory when it is complete.
After you have downloaded the operating system you’re able to use the ISO file to install Windows 10 into VirtualBox on a Mac (or PC), make a Windows 10 USB install drive from a Mac, make an installer DVD by burning the iso, install into Boot Camp on a Mac, or even use the ISO to update, reinstall, or install Windows 10 onto a PC. It’s compatible with anything that Windows would normally be compatible with.
Activating Windows 10, or not
As mentioned earlier, you do not need a product key to download Windows 10, nor do you need a product key or to activate Windows 10 just to install and use the OS, during the install process you can postpone product key entry and do it later. The disc image download is free, though obviously a product key is not.
It’s important to note that if you choose to not activate Windows 10, the release has limited usage, and certain features of the operating system will be unavailable until you do activate the release. Activating Windows 10 can be done after installing by entering a product key either obtained from the Microsoft ordering process or elsewhere.
You can activate Windows 10 from Settings > Activation, where you can buy a product key and enter it to activate the system.
Of course if you plan on using Windows 10 beyond a test run or want the full set of features, like the ability to continuously use it, change wallpaper, and personalize the system, you’ll want to buy the full release and a product key, which you can then enter into the already installed Windows 10 release.
Microsoft offering Windows 10 as a free download this way offers a great way to test out the Windows 10 experience before committing to buying it. It’s also helpful for developers or those who need to just run Windows 10 for a specific purpose, perhaps for testing a particular single game or particular application. Do note that web developers have another option available which is to run Microsoft Edge and Windows 10 in a dedicated virtual machine as described here, which is also an official download from Microsoft. That solution may be easier for some users if the primary intention of downloading Windows 10 is to run in a virtual machine anyway, since it arrives as pre-configured VM that only needs to be launched into VirtualBox or VMware.