In the interest of having a centrally maintained, quickly accessible and easily referred-to URL for obtaining various Windows and Microsoft product installation media (generally in the form of virtual machine hard disk images or installation media (DVD/USB) not-so-optical-anymore disc images (.ISO)) for future articles I am breaking off the following segment of Add Missing Hardware Support (Drivers) to Windows Install Media (DVDs, USB Sticks) to create this perma-resource:
...First we need to obtain our installation media. Depending on the version of Windows you wish to work with it may be available for download from the Microsoft website in the form of a direct .ISO image file download, a Media Creation Tool which will facilitate the downloading and installation of a bootable image to a USB stick or burnt to a DVD-R/RW and provide the option of downloading an .ISO image for later recording and/or intermediate modification.
NOTE: Always take special care to run the Media Creation Tool as Administrator! The tool alternates from crashing to working and back again seemingly with each version if you forget to run it as Admin from the top, but only after spending 20 minutes analyzing your existing system...
When Microsoft deep-sixes a product they really go out of their way to make finding it as obnoxious and difficult as possible, typically removing sources one at a time and leaving up many old pages and documents that contain dead links. This is, as far as I am able to determine, the case with Windows 7 which was EoL'd (End of Life'd) January 2020 and has more recently started happening to Windows 8 (though I'm sure everyone's feelings are less mixed here). I don't understand why they have to make such a point of it; they have sophisticated analytics and can tell where people are going on their sites. They know people are looking, they know the links are entirely unnecessarily dead, I don't think it's unfair to assume they are just being pushy dicks.
Perennial Windows USB flashing utility Rufus does the job you'll wish Windows Media Creation Tool did: it doesn't waste time trying to scope out your system regardless of whether you even want to install to that machine (nevermind without rebooting), save apps that you'd rather wipe clean (unless you're gross, I guess... :s) or fail after taking 5 minutes to set up because you forgot to Run as Administrator and it... forgot to be programmed to ask for that privilege... by engineers that designed the goddamned operating system whose security model revolves around that UAC feature... god damnit x.x It will also let you select versions of Windows all the way down to 7, download them direct from the horse's mouth (yup) and let you choose any of the official builds in each published Edition for every valid architecture. For bonus points you have the option of letting the integrated ISO downloader script do the magic or send the burden to your designated primary browser, which I appreciate for having the ability to use Firefox's resilient resume paused/failed download capability and visual progress indicator over Rufus' built in script which is essentially invisible until it succeeds (one hopes).
- Download Windows 8.1
- Download Windows 10
- Download Windows 11
- TechBench by WTZ @ https://tb.rg-adguard.net/
- Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool (Windows-ISO-Downloader.exe) @ HeiDoc.net
For suggestions as to what one might populate a fresh Windows installation with, please take a gander yonder: foxpa.ws/windows-software. Additionally, I have posted an AutoUnattend.xml answer file that automates the installation process and cuts install time down to under one half while eliminating all those silly questions asking if you'd like to enable Microsoft's spyware.