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)
  3. Aсtivate with the open source KMS_VL_ALL
    (Password is 2022, run .cmd file and choose #2)

Optional

  • Skip making a microsoft account by clicking Domain Join Instead during sеtup (workaround needed for Home edition)
  • Remove telemetry by running WPD.app and clicking Disable on the main page. 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 lets you upgrade directly or burn the installer onto a flashdrive:

Windows 10#

Windows 11#

Windows 11 is available as a free upgrade from 10, but its a bit half-assed at this point and still doesn't offer many new features. If you still want it, you can look for the upgrade under Check for Updates in Settings, or download a copy to install. The official requirements are an AMD 2xxx+ processor or Intel on mostly 8xxx+, UEFI Secure Boot, and TPM 2.0. Most newer motherboards already have TPM support built in, but you may need to enable it before Windows can detect it. If you're missing some of these requirements, you can still force an upgrade with this tool, or use Rufus to make an unblocked installer. If you have TPM 1.2 this registry setting also works. However microsoft has made it clear they don't want anyone doing this. They've claimed using unsupported hardware may be slow or unreliable, and threatened to block updates in the future. It's not clear how serious they are yet, or how older gear will hold up as the OS evolves. Eleven is expected to get an LTSC edition 3 years after launch. Windows 10 will continue getting updates through October 2025.

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.

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 Setup on the drive that appears
Then Activate

Other Downloads#

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)".



Enterprise#


Education#

Some useful settings in Windows 10/11 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 running KMS_VL_ALL, then 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, go to the About page in Settings and look under Edition.

See Ρrivaсy and Tweaks for useful Group Policy settings.

You can also choose Education when installing Windows, by selecting Windows Education when it asks you to pick an OS. Do NOT choose Pro Education or N editions, which are inferior to plain Edu. The installer may skip this question if it detects an existing license like Home. To force it to always let you choose, you can prepare a flashdrive as usual, then copy this into notepad, save it as ei.cfg (set Save as type to All Files), and put it in the drive's "Sources" folder.



LTSC#
  • 2021
    Torrent:            magnet:?xt=urn:btih:6d4033ae458858fa422fced1c82d53fadbea7aa8
    Sha-256 Checksum:   c90a6df8997bf49e56b9673982f3e80745058723a707aef8f22998ae6479597d
    

    Download[2] | All Languages | Source


  • 2021 IoT

    LTSC IoT is functionally the same as regular LTSC, but gets 10 years of updates instead of 5, and uses a different kind of activator (HWID). After you've installed regular LTSC, you can change it to IoT any time by going to Settings > Activation > Change Product Key, and using this transition key QPM6N-7J2WJ-P88HH-P3YRH-YY74H, then use WinActivate. You can also use this IoT disk to install it directly, but only if you're doing a clean install. For upgrades that disk will install regular LTSC, so you need to use the key anyway. To see which version you have installed, go to the About page in Settings and look for IoT under Edition.



LTSC is another sub-type of Enterprise. Its main purpose is to support limited use devices (like ATMs and kiosks) that need to stay exactly the same over time. It does this by freezing on one Windows release permanently, and leaving out various features like Windows Store/Apps, Cortana, and microsoft gaming. In return each version gets 5 years of security updates (10 on pre-2020 and IoT), but only minimal updates and partial bug fixes, leaving out any tweaks or performance gains other users get. This can sometimes lead to problems with newer drivers or software, especially since 2021 is expected to be the last LTSC for Windows 10. With Windows 11 out, the development on 10 has calmed down considerably, Feature Updates are much smaller, and they only come out once a year now. It may be worth using Education instead, which lets you turn unwanted features on/off easily, supports each release 2.5 years, and has the same telemetry control as LTSC (see Group Policy).




Install & Setup#

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


During setup Windows tries to make you log in with an online "Microsoft Account", which are tied to an email and collect more data. You can choose to skip this by clicking Domain Join Instead (Win 11 hides it under Sign-in Options).

Home editions (and 11 Pro) require a Microsoft Account to finish setup, but you can skip this by disabling your network adapter when you get to the Sign-In screen. Press Shift+F10, enter control netconnections, then right click the adapter and disable it. Close out of both windows then click the back arrow on the left. Remember to re-enable the adapter when you're done installing.

Windows also forces you to set up security questions, but you can skip this 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 if it asks.


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




Activation#


KMS_VL_ALL#

Download: KMS_VL_ALL

Activates Windows (8-11) and Office (2010-2021)
Sha-1 Checksum: ad6844d17d9c66c5235bd74d1545c4ca5c743654
Mirrors | Documentation | Source | Source Code

Extract with 7-Zip (password is 2022). AVs are usually told to report activators as malware even when they're safe, so you may need to allow the file in Settings > Virus & Threat Protection. Then run KMS_VL_ALL_AIO.cmd and select [2] Install Activation AutoRenewal

If using an antivirus other than Windows Defender, add an exclusion for C:\Windows\system32\SppExtComObjHook.dll

Activates all editions except LTSC IoT. Works by using microsoft's own process (that exists for handling subscription activations and has been reverse engineered) and telling your OS to send any requests to a passive local utility which confirms your status. This kind of activator has worked seamlessly since the days of Windows 8, while also sending zero information to microsoft. Do not search google for activators, even if you know the name of what you're looking for (see Safety Concerns).


WinActivate#

WinActivate (HWID) is an alternative that activates Windows by sending your hardware serial numbers to microsoft, which creates a Digital License that should be permanent and reactivate your PC automatically after clean installs. It is the only way to activate LTSC 2021 IoT, but can't activate Microsoft Office, Server, or regular LTSC 2021. Made by MDL developer Luzea.


Recovering a 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 your hardware ID (mainly the motherboard) has been paired with a permanent Digital License on microsoft's servers. You can also get a permanent license by using a Windows 7/8 key to activate Windows 10, by entering it under Settings > Update & Security > Aсtivation > Change product key. You can use the Activation Troubleshooter to restore a license if you lose it during a hardware change, or if you want to try moving one to a new PC.




Privacy and Tweaks#

First, there are a few good apps for disabling telemetry and unwanted features:


WPD.app eliminates Cortana and a wide range of telemetry services when you click Disable on the main page. You can find a few other things like Onedrive under Privacy > Advanced, but it's safer to leave most of these alone unless you know what they do. The Apps tab lets you quickly uninstall any apps that came with Windows, but be careful what you remove here. Some are useful for things like playing media correctly, and you'll want to keep the xbox set if there's any chance of gaming through the Store or Games Pass. If you don't want the Store at all, it's safer to disable than remove it.

O&O ShutUp10+ is a similar program that gives simple, color coded descriptions for a wide range of settings, with more info when you click into them. You can "Apply Recommended Settings" pretty safely, and then flip through anything else you'd like to change.

Both programs have been updated for Windows 11, and can be used together. You can also make many of these changes manually.



Next it's helpful to understand how modern Windows gets updates. New versions are now released once 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 may be risky to install a Feature Update when it's brand new, as they often have bugs left at launch, which is why it's usually a while before they're pushed to most systems. If you don't mind being a beta tester, you can download them manually when they appear under Check for Updates. If you want more control over when they show up, 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. (Windows 11 renames this to Allow Diagnostic Data - Diagnostic Data Off)


  • 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. Delay 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 then

Set the Target Version to match your current Feature Update number (such as 2004 or 21H2), 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 upgrade to a newer release any time by entering its number instead (then go to Check for Updates if you want it to start immediately). Enterprise/Edu users get an extra year of support (30 +2) on fall Feature Updates.

Enterprise only settings | More update options


ISO Mods#

There are tools that 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. The changes they make can often break software, games, or basic features you may use in the future, 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 downloading Windows is trusting what random users, torrents, and websites claim is safe. If you're not careful, you're more likely to end up with an infected copy 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 or hash. If you scan a file with a particular Hash Algorithm (SHA-1, SHA-256, etc), you will always get the same number, but if a single bit in the file is changed, it will give you a completely different output. Some older Algorithms like MD5 are weak and can potentially be faked, so it's not good to rely on them. As long as the file you download matches the strong 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:

Adguard SHA-1 Database
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
HashCheck - adds Checksums tab in file Properties
7-Zip -   adds CRC SHA options in right-click 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.

Edit
Pub: Dec 20 2020 08:54 UTC
Edit: May 01 2022 10:02 UTC
Views: 34386