Windows 10

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Additional Windows 10 FAQ by Dell Community Rockstar Philip Yip

Before the Free Upgrade

Its recommended to carry out a few steps before performing an OS Upgrade. These mainly relate to a data backup and also the creation of OS Recovery Media. You will need an external Hard Drive for this and a few 16 GB USB Flash Drives:

The first thing you should do is copy anything important from Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Pictures and Videos that you cannot afford to use onto the external hard drive. You should do this regularly.

Next you will want to create Factory OS Installation Media using the latest version of Dell Backup and Recovery:

One may wish to also use Macrium Reflect to create an image of their Hard Drive which they can Restore from:

The first image is of Factory Install (how Dell shipped the system) and the second is of the current setup (all user installed updates, programs and files/folders).

Note when using a Macrium Reflect Image the Factory Restore may not work which is why I recommend carrying out both steps.

The Windows 10 Free Upgrade from Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

Windows 10 is available as a Free Upgrade for all Dell Systems sold with Windows 8.x OEM and Windows 10 OEM. To identify what version of Windows your system came look for the following stickers:



For stickers 1-5 the product key is embedded in the Dell UEFI BIOS and will automatically be input by Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media. The most important thing to note is the Free Windows 10 Upgrade is Edition specific. Installation Media of the Correct Edition will not ask for the Product Key as it'll automatically be picked up by installation media.



To Download and Prepare Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media see Download a Windows 10 TH2 OEM and Retail .iso.

The Windows 10 Free Upgrade from Windows 7

For a system shipped with Dell Windows 7 OEM. A Windows 7 COA with 25 digit product key will be affixed:

Windows 7 COA 

This may be found in the battery compartment of many laptops to prevent fading:

Laptop COA

Power off the system, remove the AC Adapter and Battery. Take a picture of your Windows 7 COA with your smartphone.

Note on the first installation of Windows 7, your systems hardware profile will be compiled and stored with a Microsoft Product Activation server meaning you will only ever need to enter the Product Key once for an initial clean installation and won't be prompted to enter the product key from an initial upgrade installation. Once the hardware profile of the system has been compiled and stored on a Microsoft Product Activation server, the system is a Windows 10 Edition Device and will automatically reactivate when online even if you skip product key during installation.

To Download and Prepare Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media see Download a Windows 10 TH2 OEM and Retail .iso.

Unified Extensive Firmware Interface (UEFI)

For optimal results the latest Dell UEFI BIOS should be installed before Windows 10 Clean Installation. Moreover one should Enable SecureBoot for optimal security. See:

Not all Windows 7 Systems have a UEFI BIOS as UEFI was implemented in Late 2011. You don't need UEFI and SecureBoot to install Windows 10 but if you have these features its recommended to utilise them.

Dell Driver Support vs Microsoft Driver Support

There has been much confusion here. Dell are an Original Equipment Manufacturer who make and design hardware and initial compile driver sets for their hardware. They support their hardware only for the duration of the warranty period (lifecycle of the product) however Dell Products normally survive for many years outwith their warranty period. See Dell Computers Tested for Windows 10 Upgrade.

Microsoft are a software company and want everyone running Windows 7 OEM or Windows 8.x OEM to Upgrade to Windows 10. Microsoft have decided they do not want to waste resources in supporting multiple Windows version and also want to have the biggest userbase possible for their Windows Store, Browser/Search Engine Marketshare and Online Cloud Storage OneDrive with Office 365. This gives them a continuous revenue so they can continue to support and develop their flagship products Windows and Office.

As the agenda of the two different companies is different many will be in the circumstance where Microsoft support the Upgrade but Dell doesn't. Luckily all these systems are over 4 years so the hardware is extremely well-established. As a consequence its extremely likely Microsoft have updated Windows 10 installation media to have inbuilt driver support for the components or will automatically obtain the system drivers automatically from Windows Update. An example is the OptiPlex 7010 shown below which obtains all its system drivers automatically via Windows Update 5 minutes after connecting online:


In my testing most systems obtain most the required drivers from Windows Update automatically. This includes relatively modern models which came preinstalled with Windows 8.1 to old models which came preinstalled with Windows Vista. I have tested the Inspiron 7347 (2014 model), Latitude 7350 (2014 model), OptiPlex 7010 (2012), OptiPlex 790 (2011), XPS 8300 (2011), OptiPlex 390 (2011), Latitude E5510 (2010), OptiPlex 760 (2008), OptiPlex 755 (2007) and Latitude D820 (2006).

For Intel systems (>2010) its recommended to install the latest version of Intel Management Engine Interface as the version Windows 10 obtains from Windows Update is an older version that leads to sleep issues. To install first extract the installer and then go to the ME_SW_MSI folder and then to the production subfolder. Then launch the .exe and install as normal.

There may however be a few rare cases where Windows Update doesn't install the driver automatically and one can use Windows 10, Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 drivers offered by Dell if necessary.

I've found Windows Update not very good at covering the following devices (not all systems have these devices):

* Often a Driver has to be forced installed via the Device Manager for complete functionality.

** Windows 10 Update covers these devices but newer drivers are commonly found which offer increased stability.

*** Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Drivers have to be used.

The Windows 10 Free Upgrade from Windows Vista or Windows XP (Unofficial)

Neither Microsoft (or Dell) support this Free Upgrade Path.

Microsoft do not allow direct clean installs of Windows 10 using Windows XP or Windows Vista licenses. They however allowed an Upgrade Install from the Insider Preview Build 10130 to Windows 10 Pro. The Insider Build 10130 uses a Generic Product Key for installation so anyone can install and activate it.

One can hence install Windows 10130 on a system shipped with Windows Vista and then utilise that a stepping stone for their Free Windows 10 Upgrade. Once the hardware profile of the system has been compiled and stored on a Microsoft Product Activation server, the system is a Windows 10 Pro Device and will automatically reactivate when online. If you later perform a clean installation skip entry of product key and opt to install Windows 10 Pro.

For more details see:

Note however as Windows XP was released in 2001. Early Windows XP systems have ridiculously weak hardware and won't be Windows 10 capable. If you have anything older than 10 years you will struggle with this upgrade path and its time for new hardware or second hand hardware such as an ex-business OptiPlex 780.

Download Windows 7 or 8.1 Installation Media (Semi-Official)

One can Download all the Editions of Windows 8.1 OEM with Update 2 from Microsoft except for the with Bing OEM Editions. For more details see:

Windows 7 Downloads can be accessed from the Techbench website however the Windows .iso Download Tool (semi-official) needs to be used to fix some issues with the Techbench website. Once one Downloads the Windows 7 .iso they can Apply Dell OEM System Locked Preinstallation using the ABR Program (unofficial). Newer systems may have a more updated Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation .iso Download. For more details see:

Dr Philip Yip
Tech Enthusiast and Author of the Unofficial Dell Windows Reinstallation Guide

Windows FAQs and OEM Downloads

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