When a new version of Windows 10 is released, Microsoft also releases new ISO disk images of the operating system to perform clean installs or create a bootable recovery environment. Using the steps in this article, you can download the ISO images directly, rather than being forced to use Microsoft‘s Media Creation Tool.
An ISO image is a sector-by-sector copy of the Windows DVD stored as a single ‘.iso’ file on your computer. You can then burn this ISO file onto another DVD, create a bootable USB drive, mount it as a drive letter in Windows, or extract its files using 7-Zip.
ISO images are handy as they allow you to create bootable media that can be used as a recovery environment for troubleshooting or performing clean installs of the latest Windows 10. You can also use them to make Windows 10 virtual machines using Hyper-V, VirtualBox, or VMware.
Microsoft tries to force users into using their Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to download the latest ISO image. This article will show you how to trick Microsoft‘s site into directly offering the ISO images instead.
How to download the latest Windows 10 ISO from Microsoft
However, it is possible to trick Microsoft‘s Windows 10 download page into offering an ISO image instead by changing the user agent of your browser to a non-Windows operating system.
To download the latest Windows 10 ISO image, please follow these steps:
- Go to the Windows 10 download page in any Chromium-based browser, such as Chrome or the new Microsoft Edge.
- Click on the Chrome menu, then More Tools, and then click on Developer tools, as shown below.
- Now press the Ctrl + Shift + M keyboard combination to open the Device toolbar. This toolbar lets you impersonate another device, such as a mobile phone or a tablet. When switching to another device, it also changes the browser’s user agent, which the website uses to identify a visitor’s operating system.
Click on the menu that shows Responsive and select iPad or iPad Pro so that you can view the page better.
- When you first select one of these devices, the screen size will be set to 50%. Please change it to 100%, as shown below, so that you can see the web page better.
- Now press the F5 key on your keyboard to refresh the page, and Microsoft‘s site will now offer you the Windows 10 ISO instead of the Media Creation Tool.
Now click on the drop-down arrow under ‘Select edition’ and select the ‘Windows 10′ option under the name of the latest feature update. At the time of this article’s writing, the latest version is Windows 10 20H2, otherwise known as the Windows 10 October 2020 Update.
Once selected, click on the Confirm button.
- After a few seconds, Microsoft‘s site will now ask you to select your ISO’s product language.
Select your language and press the Confirm button again.
- Finally, you will be asked whether you want to download a 32-bit or 64-bit version of the Windows 10 ISO. Most people want to download the 64-bit version of Windows 10.
- When you click on the download button, you will be asked what folder you wish to save the ISO file, as shown below. After selecting the folder to save the ISO, click on the Save button to download it.
The current ISO image is 5.8 GB, so it may take some time to download depending on your Internet connection speed.
The ISO download link generated by Microsoft‘s site will remain valid for 24 hours and be shared with other people during that time frame. After 24 hours, the link will no longer work, and you will need to create a new one again using the above steps.
What should you do with the ISO?
Now that you have a copy of the latest Windows 10 ISO image, you may be wondering what you should do with it.
Many people download a Windows 10 ISO to create a bootable USB drive for performing a clean install of Windows 10. A clean install is when you completely reformat a PC and reinstall Windows 10, so you have a clean installation of the operating system without any additional software or drivers.
Another common use for Windows 10 ISOs is to create a bootable USB drive that can be used as a recovery environment for removing malware and troubleshooting Windows 10 crashes, bugs, and freezes.
For either purpose, you need a spare USB drive that can be used to create the bootable Windows 10 USB media.
If you do not have a spare USB drive, you can purchase a 32GB Sandisk drive for about $8.99 or a 5-pack of 64GB USB drives for $24 on Amazon.
To create the bootable USB drive, you can use free utilities tool Rufus or Universal USB Installer to copy the ISO image to a USB drive and configure it as a bootable drive.
If you are not performing a clean installation, BleepingComputer strongly recommends that every Windows user creates bootable Windows 10 USB media that can be used for troubleshooting.
We have used the Windows 10 Recovery Environment many times in the past to troubleshoot problems in Windows. Having the bootable USB Windows media available can save a lot of frustration when your PC is not working correctly.