Pro tip: Sock away a clean copy of Windows 10 (2004)


Downloading a clean copy of Windows 10 version 2004 is remarkably easy, doesn’t take very long (if you have a fast internet connection), and may well save your keester at some point. Don’t worry, it’s 100% legal and, at worst, will occupy about 8 GB on a convenient drive for a while.

Nothin’ to it.

Step 1. In Windows 10, use the Media Creation Tool

If you have a PC with a license for Windows 10, the easiest way to get version 2004 involves Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool. Go to the Download Windows 10 site and under “Create Windows 10 installation media,” click the link marked Download tool now. 

Your browser downloads a file called MediaCreationTool2004.exe. Double-click on the file to run it.

You see a notice that you’re opening MediaCreationTool2004.exe. Click Yes when asked if you want to allow permanent bodily harm to your PC (don’t worry, you won’t get 2004 installed). Blast your way through 10,000 pages of dense legalese on the Applicable notices and license terms box and click Accept. If you want to read the Applicable notices, by all means do so – and tell me what you find. 

The Windows 10 Setup routine hums and whirs and asks if you want to upgrade this PC now, or if you want to create installation media (see screenshot).

1909 create installation mediaMicrosoft

Choose Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC. Yes, you should choose that even if you never intend to use the clean copy of Win10 2004 on any other PC. Click Next. Choose the Language, architecture and edition – all of which should match what you’re currently running. Click Next.

When you’re asked to Choose which media to use, choose ISO file. Ignore the part about “You’ll need to burn the ISO file to a DVD later” – it’s old advice, rarely necessary these days. Click Next.

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