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Windows 10: How to Be First in Line for the Upgrade (and Future Updates)

Okay, so what if you want Windows 10 first thing July 29? Well, then you have to join Windows Insider. Here's how that works.

Windows 10

Windows Insider: Getting With the Program

Okay, so what if you want Windows 10 first thing July 29? Well, then you have to join Windows Insider. Here’s how that works.

Open your browser to the Windows Insider Program page and click the Get Started button…


At the “Sign in” page, log in with a Microsoft account. Yes, you’ll need to have a Microsoft account to participate. If you don’t have one, click the link that says “Sign up now” to create one…


After you log in with your account, Microsoft displays a Register page…


Scroll down the page and click the check box to accept the terms of this agreement. (You can also select your areas of interest.) Then click the Submit button…


A page pops up welcoming you to the Insider Program. Now that you’re part of the program, the next step is to download the Windows 10 software. Click the “PC” button to download the version for computers…


A “Before you install” page appears, explaining the ins and outs of the Insider Program and how to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview…


Scroll down the page and click the button to “Get the preview”…


Finally, at the Download Windows 10 Insider Preview page, you can either click the button to “Start upgrade now,” or click the link to download the ISO file instead…


The distinction here is important. If you click the “Start upgrade now” button, your current version of Windows 7 or 8.1 will upgrade to the Windows 10 Technical Preview, which you may or may not want to do. Why is that?

What if You Choose the Windows 10 Upgrade?

Remember that the current Technical Preview of Windows 10 is still a beta product, still undergoing testing and still likely to have certain bugs, flaws, or other issues. If you have only one computer on hand, or you upgrade to Windows 10 on your main production computer, you’ll wipe out your working version of Windows 7 or 8.1 with a beta product. If you run into any troubles, that could affect your ability to continue to work and run all of your existing applications, at least until you’ve upgraded to the final release of Windows 10 on July 29.

What if You Choose the ISO File?

Instead, you may want to download the ISO file, a file that you can store on a flash drive or write to a DVD. You can then install the Windows 10 ISO file from that drive or DVD on a different computer, perhaps an older one that you use for testing purposes, or on a free partition on your main computer.

However, Microsoft has not yet explained the ramifications or details of the current upgrade process if you do a clean install of Windows 10 Technical Preview using the current (pre-July 29) ISO file. Will you still be eligible for the free upgrade to the final version? That’s a good, unanswered question. We’ve reached out to Microsoft for clarification and will update the story if we hear back. But for the purposes of this article, let’s use the ISO option just to illustrate one way of installing Windows 10.

So, let’s click the option to download the ISO…


A page to Download Windows 10 Insider Preview ISO Update appears, like so…


Scroll down this page and click the link for your language. Also make note of the product key (here, blacked out), since you’ll need that to install the Windows 10 Preview…


Then, click the link for either the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 10.


Choose the option to save the file on your computer. By default, it will be saved to your Downloads folder.


After the ISO file has downloaded, you can copy it to a flash drive or burn it onto a DVD. A good tool for executing either option is the free Windows USB/DVD Download Tool, which you would install onto your computer and then use to render the ISO file onto a flash drive or DVD in bootable form.


From your USB drive or DVD, you can then install Windows 10 onto any computer.

Update Windows 10 With the Latest Builds

After you’ve installed Windows 10, you’ll periodically receive new builds of the operating system as Microsoft continues to fine-tune it. When you check for updates, the new builds will be installed automatically, along with any other updates.

To check for new builds in Windows 10, click the Start button and then select Settings.


In the Settings window, click the setting for Update & security.


When the Update & Security screen appears, Windows 10 automatically checks for new builds. You can also click the button to Check for Updates. Any available updates and builds will be downloaded and installed automatically.


Choose to Get Your Windows 10 Builds Fast or Slow

You can also elect to receive the builds on what Microsoft calls either a “Fast Ring” or a “Slow Ring.” In the Fast Ring, you’ll receive each new build sooner, but the builds may be buggier and less stable. In the Slow Ring, you’ll naturally receive each build more slowly, but the builds themselves will generally be more stable.

By default, Microsoft places new Windows Insiders in the Slow Ring. But what if you want your builds quicker? Here’s how to jump into the Fast Ring.

From the Update & Security screen, click the link for “Advanced options”…


In the Advanced Options window, scroll down until you see the section for “Get Insider” builds…


Under the option to “Choose how you get Insider builds,” change the setting from Slow to Fast…


You’ll now receive the builds on a faster basis. You can now close the Advanced Options window.


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