How to clean install Windows 10 using Windows 7/8.1/8 Product Key

Windows 10 will be a free upgrade to Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 8 users until July 29, 2016. One of the methods typically used by several people is to use Windows update and upgrade to Windows 10. But this method is not always the best because Windows carries over files, user profile app data, settings, and even Windows folder to the new installation and this could bring in new problems because it’s not a clean install.

Windows 10 clean installation

Why clean install, and not upgrade?

In fact several people who upgraded to Windows 10, instead of clean install have reportedly faced frustrating problems of ‘Start menu, Action Center, and search box not working’ after the upgrade. This problem arises because of messed up system file permissions. Our test PC ran into the same problem after trying to delete the Windows.old folder which is created by Windows 10 after upgrade. Henceforth, we recommend clean install of Windows 10 after backing up personal data into a external storage media.

Clean install Windows 10 using Windows 7/8.1/8 Product Key

1 . Create a Windows 10 Installation DVD/USB

You need a USB flash drive of minimum 4 GB capacity or a blank DVD to create a Windows 10 installation media. Then download the Windows media creation tool for your PC.

Run the MediaCreationTool that you downloaded.

Media Creation tool

Select ‘Create installation media for another PC’ and click ‘Next’

Create installation media for another PC

Create installation media for another PC

Choose Language, Windows Edition,  and Architecture that you are eligible in case you have upgraded your current PC from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. If you are not sure which Edition you can are eligible for free upgrade, go to our article and find it out. Click Next.

Windows 10 Download

Windows 10 Download

Select the media type, you got two options: USB flash drive and ISO file. If your computer can boot from USB flash drive, then this method is best, else you can go with traditional DVD installation disc creation. In this case select ISO file and save it to your computer first, and then burn it to DVD.

Choose USB Flash drive or ISO file

Choose USB Flash drive or ISO file

Now the tool will download Windows 10 from Microsoft servers.


Downloading Windows 10

Downloading Windows 10

After download is complete, you can right away click on Open DVD burner and burn the ISO file to DVD.

Burn the ISO file to a DVD

Burn the ISO file to a DVD

You now have Windows 10 installation disc/USB.

2. Install Windows 10 using Windows 7/8.1/8 Product Key

Insert the USB/DVD installation media which you created in the part (1) of this guide and boot into it like any other Windows installation.

Windows 10 Installation Start

Windows 10 Installation Start

There are two possible scenarios:

  1. If you have never installed and activated Windows 10 on this computer before, you will see the activation screen. You have to enter the Windows 10/7/8/1/8 key here.
  2. If you have ever installed and activated Windows 10 on this computer before, click “skip” and proceed. Windows will automatically activate once it’s installed.
Windows 10 Product Key

Windows 10 Product Key

Accept terms and conditions and click ‘Next’.

Make sure to click ‘Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)’ for clean installation, else it will ‘Upgrade’ as default.

Custom Installation

Custom Installation

You will be asked where to install Windows. You can select the partition you want or simply use unallocated partition in case you have no partitions.

Windows Installation Partition Location

Windows Installation Partition Location

Proceed with the simple onscreen instructions and after a while you will land up into Windows 10 desktop. If your PC is connected to internet, you should see ‘Windows 10 on this device is activated with a digital entitlement’ message in Windows activation section.

Windows 10 Activated

Windows 10 Activated

That’s it. Do let us know how your installation went along and whether you were successfully able to activate Windows 10 or not?

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Kiran Kumar

Hi there! Kiran Kumar is an Engineer by profession, and loves blogging primarily on Microsoft Windows operating system and also enjoys reviewing software and products. Currently, he is exploring Windows 10 and you will see a lot of articles on know-how about it. When he is not writing for TWP, he enjoys time with his Family, listens to lot of music, enjoys Biking, and occasionally plays racing games on Xbox One.

  • Dacker

    I hope you can help me….

    I have an old PC which started life as a Vista box — yeah, it’s that old — a Core2 Duo. A Win7 Home Premium upgrade was eventually purchased and has been it’s primary OS since then. The PC has had a clean installation of Win7 several times over the years and is not sitting on top of an ancient Vista installation.

    Now I’m trying to install Win10 in a dual boot configuration so I can easily and slowly migrate from the Win7 setup to the Win10 setup and so I can get used to Win10 without totally confusing my family members.

    Win7 has been on a 120GB SSD which has perhaps 5GB of free space. I bought a new 250GB SSD and installed it alongside the old one. I created a Win10 installation USB thumbdrive and had it install on the new SSD. All went well except it rejected my Win7 Product key. I continued installation, which went flawlessly.

    After booting into Win10, I’ve tried my Win7 Product Key several more times. Win10 keeps telling me, “Error code: 0xC004C003” which is “The activation server determined the specified product key has been blocked.”
    I’ve poked around online and cannot find a solution which quite addresses my situation. I really don’t want to have to delete a bunch of files on the old SSD, perform an upgrade over Win7, and then reinstall Win10 on the new SSD. I just don’t have the time or inclination to do all that in one sitting nor do I want to prematurely force Win10 on my family, especially my Luddite wife, until I have experience and can give her informed answers to her questions.
    Thoughts???

    • Kaliaila

      What you might try is to do a complete image COPY of the 120GB SSD drive to the 250GB one without erasing the 120 GB one. My SSD drive included a method to do this when I got it last year.
      Then do an Upgrade from windows 7 on the 250GB to Windows 10 and allow it to activate itself online. Then follow that up by doing a clean install on the 250GB one, wiping all data on the 250GB one in the process (skip the product key step and it should auto activate itself after it starts up and connects to the net following upgrade.

      This should leave you with the 120GB installation of windows 7 that is activated, and the 250GB installation of windows 10 will also be activated while keeping the new 250GB drive free of duplicate files. It will take a couple of reinstallations, but you won’t have to go deleting files to do it.
      If the activation once again fails on the 250GB windows 10 upgrade, then it something else is the issue here.