Last week I showed you how to get Windows 10 when it becomes available. You’ll remember, that assuming you’ve got the Get Windows 10 app available this is supposed to be relatively painless. (Microsoft Translation: ‘Relatively Painless’ – meaning you’ll pull only some of your hair out.) All you’ve go to do now is wait for the release date. But what if you’re not that patient and want to play with Windows 10 now? Well this week I’ll show you how. You can’t have the polished version just yet, but something pretty close to it; good enough to have a real play and determine if it’s for you.
The Insider Preview ISO
First you need to enroll in the Microsoft Insider Preview Program. You’ll need to sign up creating an account. This is free so don’t worry. Next log into the newly created account and download the Windows 10 Insider Preview. Though it’s weirdly named (seems Microsoft have problems in the sensible naming department) the Windows 10 Insider Preview is simply a pre-release of Windows 10. These are more correctly called beta releases. Microsoft and others release these to the wild specifically geek-centric subculture ‘as-is’ in the hope that any bugs or major software meltdowns can be found and fixed before the release date.
This downloaded file you might notice is a bit strange as you can’t just click it to make magic happen. It’s an ISO file (the acronym is taken from the ISO 9660 file system used with CD-ROM media, but that’s unimportant right now). ISO files need to be ‘translated’ onto removable media via an ISO burning program. My favorite free ISO burning program is ISO Recorder; a free version is available here. So before you do anything with the newly downloaded file, download and install ISO Recorder or similar.
So far then, in a nutshell here’s the procedure to get Windows 10 now for free:
- you enroll in the MS Insider Program.
- You download the Windows 10 Insider Preview iso file.
- You download and install an ISO burning program like ISO Recorder.
- You use the ISO burning program to burn the file to a DVD or such.
- You boot from the new DVD and follow the prompts to install Windows 10.
For the rest of the post I’ll show you in more detail step 4. We’ll use ISO Recorder in the example, but others work similarly. The assumption is that you’ve successfully completed steps 1-3.
Firstly ensure you’ve got a blank writable DVD installed in your DVD burner. (We’ll assume you’ve got a DVD burner as just about every PC now has one). By the way it needs to be a DVD not a CD as the file is too big for a CD. Right click on the Windows 10 Insider Preview ISO file and from the menu select ‘Copy image to CD/DVD‘.
In the accompanying window ensure the settings are similar to the screenshot below. The drive letter of your DVD could be different; just make sure it’s the right letter for your PC, click the Next button and the rest is automatic. At the end of the process, your PC should spit the DVD out and you’re ready to install Windows 10 either on this system or another one.
But what if you’re one of those want-your-cake-and-eat-it-too types? You might be keen to play with a new Windows, but don’t really want to stuff around with or loose your existing Windows installation. Fear not; we call that dual booting and it’s pretty simple to setup once we’ve partitioned our hard drive. This is a breeze with the right software (which is free too) so we’ll do that together in the next post.