Installing Windows#

This guide is to help you install and aсtivate a clean copy of Windows on any PC. Be very cautious of any copy you find unless you KNOW it hasn't been tampered with, and NEVER try to aсtivate using tools from google.

Fast Guide#

  1. Download a Windows 10 USB from Microsoft.com
  2. Get Еnterprisе features by selecting "Еducation edition" when installing (see Enterprise), or use your own key at any time
  3. Aсtivate with the open source KMS_VL_ALL
    (Password is "2021", run .cmd file and choose #2)

Optional

  • Make an offline user account by clicking "Domain Join Instead" during sеtup (Home users have to disconnect internet first)
  • Run WPD.app (Open "Ρrivaсy", set telemetry to "Security", and everything not in Advanced to off) For more options, see Ρrivaсy and Tweaks






Downloading Windows#

Microsoft makes it easy to download newer versions of Windows with their 'Media Creation Tool', which downloads and burns the installer directly to DVD or flashdrive:

Windows 10#


Windows 11

Windows 7 & 8#
  • 8 Only- Use generic sеtup key GCRJD-8NW9H-F2CDX-CCM8D-9D6T9 to install (does not aсtivate), and remember to fix updates/telemetry.
Alternate Download#

Rg-adugard is a link generating site that allows you to download Windows ISOs directly from microsoft. To access them go to
tb.rg-adguard.net, select your edition, click download, and it will start downloading from a temporary link at microsoft․com. To verify the download is coming from microsoft's domain, you can right click the started download and copy the link in Firefox, or click "Show All" in Chrome. Most ISOs are under "Windows(Final)".

Microsoft Office#

Download Office 2019 or 2021 from Microsoft․com
Other versions also available through tb.rg-adguard.net
To install, right click file and select "Mount", then run installer from "This PC".


Windows 11#

Windows 11 is available now as a free upgrade from 10, but it's still very new and Windows has an awful track record of bugs and bad UI when new releases drop, and the benefits are questionable at this point, so it's probably worth waiting at least a few months for things to smooth out. Microsoft themselves are pushing it out pretty slowly to PCs well into next year, but you can look for it on your "Check for Updates" settings page, or download a copy to install. The official requirements are Ryzen 2xxx+ or Intel (mostly) 8xxx+, UEFI Secure Boot, and TPM 2.0. Many newer motherboards already have TPM support built in, but this often needs to be enabled before Windows can detect it. If you don't meet some of these requirements, you can still force an upgrade with this registry setting (if you've got at least TPM 1.2), this mod script, or by preparing an ISO with the latest version of Rufus. However microsoft is actively trying to discourage people from doing this kind of bypass. They've claimed using unsupported hardware may be slow or unreliable, and threatened the possibility of blocking updates in the future. Older hardware may have more trouble as the OS evolves over time. 11 will have an LTSC edition, but not in its first year. Windows 10 will continue getting updates through October 2025.


Enterprise#

Some useful settings in Windows 10 are only available in Enterprise editions, like disabling the Store, and the option to send the smallest amount of telemetry. Education edition is an easy to get, full version of Enterprise with all these settings and features*. You can upgrade your existing Windows right now by going to Settings >Update & Security >Aсtivation >Change product key

Then enter this generic sеtup key: NW6C2-QMPVW-D7KKK-3GKT6-VCFB2

To check that it worked, ignore any error messages, go to System (in Control Panel) and make sure Windows edition says Education. Then see Activation.

You can also get Education directly while installing Windows, by selecting "Windows 10 Education" when it asks you to choose an OS. Do NOT choose "Pro Education" or "N" editions, which are inferior to plain Edu.

See Ρrivaсy and Tweaks for useful Group Policy settings.

*Education has the advantage (vs Enterprise) of disabling Windows Store advertising and is included in the sеtup of most Win10 installers. Otherwise the only difference is the buggy and limited ReFS filesystem, support for NVDIMM server ram, and DirectAccess/Remote Memory Access for use in corporate networks. Virtually no one needs these, and if you do, you probably already have a business paying for your license. If you still want Enterprise specifically, you can enter this key instead: NPPR9-FWDCX-D2C8J-H872K-2YT43

LTSC#
Torrent:            magnet:?xt=urn:btih:527ED958E7B901B78BC260DD0BB7364C71D7D403
Sha-1 Checksum:     615A77ECD40E82D5D69DC9DA5C6A6E1265F88E28

Download | Alt Downloads | Source
Latest Servicing Update (Install if updates don't work)

LTSC (previously LTSB) is an edition of Enterprise made for limited use devices like ATMs and kiosks that need consistency at all costs. It gets 10 years of security updates for each version (5 for future releases), but only minimal updates and partial bug fixes, leaving out new components and performance improvements all other users get, which may prevent some software/drivers from working correctly. Windows Store/Cortana/Apps are also removed from LTSC, as are various things like Game Pass support and Mixed Reality VR. Regular Enterprise/Education let you turn these on/off easily, and have the same level of telemetry control as LTSC. New core features get integrated into the next major release, but these only come out every 2-3 years and must be installed manually from a new ISO. All other editions of 10 provide upgrades every 6 months, and let you ignore them for a year by default now. Enterprise/Edu are supported 2.5 years on fall Feature Updates (see Group Policy). Windows 11 will have Feature Updates reduced to one per year, and will eventually have an LTSC edition, but not this year.


Install & Setup#

If you downloaded an ISO, use it to make an install disk:

To make an offline Windows 10 account (which are not tied to an email address), click "Domain Join Instead" during setup. If there isn't an option available (like on Home edition), disconnect your ethernet or wifi connection and start over. You can also skip the security questions they ask for by leaving your password blank until after setup.

If you need help actually installing Windows, here's a detailed newbie's guide. If you don't have a key, just skip when it asks.

Useful Software:
Old School Start Menu: Open-Shell
Clean and Instant Programs: Ninite.com


Activation#

You can easily activate Windows (8, 10, & 11) and Office (2019/2021) with KMS_VL_ALL:

Download: KMS_VL_ALL

Sha-1 Checksum: 75f2d4522f5f70beca3cf46d06f2bc538c7e4ec8
Alt Downloads | Documentation | Source

Disable any 3rd party antivirus, extract with 7-Zip (password is 2021), then run "KMS_VL_ALL_AIO.cmd" and select:

[2] Install Activation AutoRenewal

Works on all versions of Windows 8 and 10 (including Enterprise/Edu/LTSC). If using an antivirus other than Windows Defender, add an exclusion for "C:\Windows\system32\SppExtComObjHook.dll" before re-enabling. DO NOT SEARCH GOOGLE FOR ACTIVATORS, even if you know the name of what you're looking for (see Safety Concerns).

Existing License#

If your computer came with Windows 10/11 or you have ever used a key to activate it, you can reinstall Windows from scratch at any time and it will reactivate as soon as you connect to the internet, as the motherboard's ID is associated with a Digital License on microsoft's servers. You can also use a Windows 7/8 key to activate Windows 10 by entering it under Settings > Update & Security > Aсtivation > Change product key


Privacy and Tweaks#

There are some things you may want to change out of the box with Windows 10. First, there are a few commonly used apps that disable telemetry and unwanted features like Cortana or Onedrive cloud storage:

O&O ShutUp10
WPD.app

O&O Shutup10 applies a good set of defaults when you select Actions > "Apply only recommended settings", which work well and shouldn't break anything. You can also run WPD․app after that, and safely set everything in "Privacy" (not under Advanced) to off and Telemetry to "Security".

If you don't mind taking the time, many of these changes can be made manually.

Next it's helpful to understand how Windows 10 gets updates. New versions are released twice a year, known as "Feature Updates". These are where performance improvements and new features are added, and each one is supported for 18 months with regular patches. It's risky to install a Feature Update when it's brand new, as they often have bugs that haven't been worked out yet. Thankfully microsoft has improved the way they're offered. Now you can download new ones manually at any time by clicking them under "Check for Updates", but they should only get installed automatically when you're on a release that's over a year old. If you want to delay them even longer, you can manage that in the settings below.

Group Policy Settings#

Not available in Home Edition. Run "Group Policy Editor" and look under:

Computer Configuration >Administrative Templates >Windows Components>

  • Disable Telemetry

    Data Collection and Preview Builds >Allow Telemetry

    0 is the minimum telemetry setting, and only works in Enterprise (including Edu & LТSC). Pro will treat it as a 1. Be sure to ENABLE the "Allow Telemetry" policy before selecting a value. (Will be renamed to "Allow Diagnostic Data" / "Diagnostic Data Off" in future releases)

  • Disable Cortana

    Search >Allow Cortana

    Set to "Disabled"
  • Disable Web Results in Search (Enterprise/Edu only)

    Search >Don't search the web or display web results in Search

    Set to "Enabled"
  • Disable Windows Store and Apps (Enterprise/Edu only)

    Store >Disable all apps from Microsoft Store

    Set to "Disabled"
  • Disable OneDrive

    OneDrive >Prevent the usage of OneDrive for file storage

    Set to "Enabled"
  • Disable Automatic Updates

    Windows Update >Configure Automatic Updates

    Set to "Enabled" and #2 Notify

    • A. Enforce delaying Feature Updates

      Windows Update >Windows Update for Business >Select when Preview builds and Feature Updates are received

      Set to "Semi-Annual Channel" and up to 365 days

-OR-

    • B. Lock in your current Feature Update

      Windows Update >Windows Update for Business >Select the target Feature Update version

      Set to "Enabled"

Set the Target Version to match your current Feature Update number (such as 2004 or 20H2), and you will stay locked on that version until 20 months after it was released (18 with support + 2 without), then automatically upgrade to the latest one. You can also enter a newer release's number at any time to upgrade to it. Enterprise/Edu users get an extra year of support (30 +2) on the second Feature Update released each year.

Enterprise only settings | More update options

ISO Mods#

There are tools that try to remove major components from Windows before install (Telemetry Destroyer, Optimize-Offline, etc.). They may be useful if you're really hands on with your system and don't mind things breaking from time to time, but the benefit to most users is questionable. They may interfere with some software, games, or basic features you use in the future, and are often undone during major updates, so using an Enterprise edition of Windows and the right apps/settings is usually a better choice.

If you do want to mod your installer, MSMG Toolkit (of the the MDL forums) lets you add/remove almost any Windows component, and is another way to disrupt telemetry services. When taking Feature Updates be sure to use the tool on the latest ISO and upgrade using that.

Ghacks Guide


Safety Concerns#

The biggest mistake people make when installing Windows from the internet is trusting what random users, torrents, and websites claim is safe. Many people don't realize you're more likely to find an infected source than a good one. Luckily there are some easy ways to double check what you're getting.

The malware in most copies of Windows is almost impossible to detect. The only sure way to know you have a clean copy is to download from an official source, or confirm it's exactly the same as what microsoft released. This is actually very easy to do, using a short row of numbers called a checksum. As long as the file you download matches the SHA-1 checksum provided by a reliable source, you know what you have is identical to the original. Microsoft no longer releases these freely, but users with access to paid MSDN subscriptions still repost them:

Heidoc Hash Archive
MDL Forums Search

When you've found a checksum number, you can compare it easily with tools like these:

MD5 & SHA Checksum Utility
IgorWare Hasher
7-Zip (via the Windows context menu)

Similarly, most legit activators have been repackaged with malware, including most of the top google results. Your safest bet by far is to stick with the most reputable and community trusted sources, which have been hosted on the MyDigitalLife forums for several years. Checksums are provided here for convenience, but you should get into the habit now of verifying your software directly against its official source any time you have to download it somewhere else.


Reliability#

Well made KMS activators like KMS_VL_ALL have worked seamlessly for the life of Windows 8, 10 and 11, by running a local copy of the activator to wake up occasionally and change the end date. It is possible microsoft could do something in the future to disrupt this, but so far it has worked correctly as long as the activator is not removed. PCs upgraded from a valid copy of Windows 7/8 have a permanent license for the life of the computer.

Edit
Pub: Dec 20 2020 08:54 UTC
Edit: Oct 18 2021 02:05 UTC
Views: 11577