How to legally download every version of Windows

Merry Christmas!

Is it snowing where you live?  Any gifts under the tree?  Regardless of your circumstances, today  I want to give you the gift of software; specifically links to legally download the following versions of Windows:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10

The links are all directly from Microsoft’s webservers so they are 100% legit.  The catch, of course, is that you need a valid Windows license to use the software beyond the activation grace period which is usually 30 days.

I’m also going to show show you how to burn the images to DVDs or copy them to a bootable USB drive.

Here we go!

Before we start we need to grab 7-zip and ImgBurn.

ImgBurn is a free image burning tool that I’ve used to create bootable CDs.  You can grab the executable at imgburn.com and check out my mini-tutorial on how to use ImgBurn for details.

Windows XP

Image credit from Robert Pinter via Flickr

Despite being unsupported by Microsoft, Windows XP is still used by an appreciable sum of users. For example, according to November 2014 data from Netmarketshare.com, 13% of the desktop operating system market still uses Windows XP in some capacity.

I wrote an article a few months back on how to legally install Windows XP so you should check that out.

Windows Vista Ultimate SP1

Windows Vista Installation Screen

 

Getting Windows Vista to work is a little more convoluted than XP, but if you stick with me we’ll have it working in no time.

Neither the 32bit nor 64bit versions of Vista come packaged as pretty little ISO’s.  Instead, we have three files that we’ll join into an ISO using ImgBurn.  W

First pick your version and download all three files.

Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 English (x86/32bit)

Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 English (x64/64bit)

Once you download the trio we’ll need to do some file renaming.

Change MicrosoftInstaller.exe to X14-63452.exe for the 32-bit version of Windows; conversely, if you picked the 64-bit version, rename MicrosoftInstaller.exe to X14-63453.exe

Rename MicrosoftInstaller.exe

Great now right click on the file you just renamed and extract the contents to a specific folder.

If you installed 7-zip correctly, you should a 7-Zip menu with an Extract to option.

Pick and sit.  It took my computer a while to get through the file extraction process.

Extracting files with 7-zip

The installer will create a Vista folder with subfolder called Sources.  install.wim and boot.wim should already be in there, if not just copy them over.

install and boot vim files for Vista

Next, we can use ImgBurn to burn the ISO or if you prefer a USB boot we do that do that.  Let me show you both cases.

In ImgBurn, click Create image file from files/folders.

Using ImgBurn to create an ISO from files

In the left pane under Source, browse to the Vista folder we created earlier.

Next, click the Advanced tab in the right pane and choose the Bootable Disc subtab so we can put a check in Make Image Bootable.

Making a bootable ISO in ImgBurn

Under that you’ll see options for Boot Image, Developer ID and bunch of other options.

We need to tell ImgBurn where the boot image actually lives so click the little folder with the magnifying glass icon and browse to your \Vista\boot folder so you can select this file:

etfsboot.com

Change the Developer ID to Microsoft Corporation

Next make sure your screen looks like mine:

Specifically:

  • Developer ID: Microsoft Corporation
  • Load Segment: 07C0
  • Sectors to Load: 4

Cool.

Now click the icon in the bottom left corner of the ImgBurn window that shows a folder with a blue arrow pointing to a CD.  This is your Build button.

Clicking this conjures up the Save As dialog so you can save and build your Vista iso.

Creating the Windows Vista ISO

And soon you’ll hit the finish line!

Creating the Windows Vista iso in ImgBurn

Tip: if you want to make a bootable USB drive because your computer doesn’t have DVD or CD ROM drive, download the Universal USB Installer.  There is literally zero setup and you’ll quickly see that it’s the easiest program in the world to use.  Everything is self explanatory.

Plugin your USB drive and then select your installer from the dropdown box.  Next, browse to the ISO we created earlier with ImgBurn and and choose your USB drive from the combo box.

You should also check the box to format the drive.

Universal USB Installer for Vista

Click Create and chill.

You’re done!

Windows 7 Pro

You can use both the ImgBurn and Universal USB Installer tricks to download and establish Windows 7 professional.  I posted the links to legally download Windows 7 Pro a few months ago so make sure you check that out.

Windows 8.1

The easiest way to get Windows 8.1 Pro is to download the Windows installation media creation tool and pick your language, edition and architecture from the drop down menus.

Windows Installation Media Creation Tool

When you click Next, Windows lets you create either a USB flash drive or ISO file.

There’s no need to use any auxiliary software to pull this off – thank you Microsoft!  If you use the USB flash drive option, just make sure it has 4 GB of space and make sure you don’t care about losing everything on it because the entire drive will get nuked during the installation process.

Windows Installation Media Creation Tool:  Save the installation file

Windows 10

Windows 10 is currently in a technical preview phase so you can only download the early release. However, if that’s your thing, then you can get all the Windows 10 ISOs at the Windows Technical Preview center.  You’ll see the product key, links to download the ISOs and more language to use than JellyBelly has jelly bean flavors.

The final release of Windows 10 is expected to drop in the Fall 0f 2015 but for now you can install the Windows 10 technical preview ISO in Virtualbox.

Download Windows 10 Technical Preview

The Bottom Line

Now you have everything you need to download and install Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8.1 and 10.

Merry Christmas again! I hope this helps you – if not just let me know in the comments below.  For example, sometimes the links for the Vista downloads timeout.  If that happens, you just have to keep trying until it works! Sorry.

Alright I’m out of here; peace.

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Posted in Windows, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Vista, Windows XP Tagged with: ,